June kicks off the month-long celebration of LBGTQ+ Pride, which coincides this year in NYC with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Beyond that 1969 uprising, New York City has played a pivotal role in the Gay Rights Movement over the last five decades, as an epicenter of gay arts and culture in the US, the community most devastated by the AIDS epidemic, and the home of many LGBTQ+ owned businesses and establishments. It is both NYC’s queer past and present that come together in this 30-day event, but you don’t have to wait until Pride to support NYC’s vibrant queer community. Here are 6 queer-owned businesses in and around Brooklyn to frequent year round.
Cult Party, Bushwick
This Bushwick-based shop is one of the most inclusive and quirky spots you’ll find in the five boroughs. It’s a collective-owned queer storefront that boasts a number of queer, feminist, and witchcraft essentials for all your eclectic shopping needs. The shop is run by women and also doubles as a gallery, event space and community center. Whether you’re after a funky t-shirt, unique jewelry, an Audre Lorde tote bag or a cool local queer event, this boutique has you covered. Be sure to check out the huge rainbow painting on the back wall when you visit.
Babeland, Soho and Park Slope
Founded over two decades ago by Claire Cavanah and Rachel Venning who saw a surprising lack of sex toys for women and the LBGTQ+ community, Babeland has become a NYC institution. With two locations in Park Slope and Soho, the shop offers well-made luxury pleasure items made ethically and by folks who have women and the LBGTQ+ crowd in mind. Their staff is super knowledgeable and they also host informational sessions and events in both spaces.
MeMe’s Diner, Prospect Heights
This diner brings together the best aspects of the queer world and comfort food. Located in Prospect Heights, MeMe’s owners Bill Clark and Libby Willis have described it as being “very, very gay” in that it’s an inclusive space for both staff and customers. Their menu reimagines classic dishes and reworks them into new takes, like the Milk and Cereal, which mixes panna conna with Corn Pops. As one reviewer noted, “It’s food meant not to impress you, only to bring you joy. The best part is, it does both.”
Housingworks, over a dozen locations in NYC
With locations all over the city, including Brooklyn, Housingworks does a lot of good within the NYC community. Their thrift stores offer a wide range of items from clothing to furniture to books, and are chock full of great finds. Best of all, all the money earned through these ventures goes to support individuals living with HIV/AIDS, so when you shop here you know your money is going to a great cause.
Bluestockings, Lower East Side
Bluestockings has been a beacon of queer activity for the last several decades. With an impressive number of queer and feminist authors, this bookstore and cafe also feature an ambitious program of authors, performers, and academics who regularly speak and perform here. It is a collectively owned radical space that offers a lot to its community and beyond.
Herstory, Park Slope
Founded in 1975, this community-run archive offers the largest collection of materials by and about lesbians and their allies. With a wide-reaching number of workshops and internships, as well as general research opportunities and tours, this grassroots library offers a wealth of information for lesbian research.