Have you ever wondered how you and your family can support LGBTQ+-owned businesses while on vacation? How to find queer-friendly spaces while on the road? Or how you can take your kids to experience queer-owned businesses that open up near your home? Well now, there’s a map for that.
“I couldn’t find a resource for [a centralized directory of LGBTQ-owned businesses,]” 25-year-old Charlie Sprinkman told NBC. So, he made one.
In the summer of 2021, Sprinkman, who currently lives in Bend, Oregon, was working as a counselor at Brave Trails, a queer leadership camp for 12- to 18-year-olds outside Los Angeles, California.
That’s when he came up with “Everywhere is Queer,” a website that would include a map of LGBTQ-owned businesses across the world, and an Instagram page that shines a spotlight on some of the companies.
To date, Sprinkman’s map lists more than 500 companies owned by folks from the queer community, and in five months, it’s been viewed more than 100,000 times.
“I have had the honor to travel (sleep at least one night) in 41 of the 50 states here in the United States and my biggest takeaway is, Everywhere Is Queer!” he said. “Throughout all my travels, I kept finding myself googling "queer spots in ___". Maybe you relate to that.”
Most of the LGBTQ-owned businesses on the map are in the U.S., with only four states that don’t have an LGBTQ-owned business listed yet. There are also businesses listed in Mexico, Costa Rica, Germany, Spain, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.
As a queer kid growing up, Sprinkman said he didn’t have immediate access to queer spaces, and he guessed other members of the community didn’t either.
“I didn’t have any out cousins, aunts, uncles, anyone as like an influence, so I didn’t really have a space as a child to find queer spaces around my hometown,” he said.
“As I was building Everywhere Is Queer, I was thinking about youth, my hometown, trying to find and build spaces for them to just, even if they’re not out, just sit in a queer-owned coffee shop and just see queer people. You know, that subconscious layer of just like seeing queer people is what I hope Everywhere Is Queer will provide for so many.”