Labeled by critics as the "don't say gay" bill, the legislation signed by Governor Ron DeSantis in March went into effect earlier this summer in Florida. Since then, lawmakers in at least a dozen more states have been trying to implement similar legislation that mirrors the "Parental Rights in Education" bill — legislation that sets out to ban gender-affirming medications for transgender children, prohibit early classroom instruction on sexual and gender identity, and permit parents to sue school districts that expose their children to material that they don't consider "age-appropriate."
In the shadow of these attacks, a sense of community is more essential than ever, which led Charlie Sprinkman to create a new online tool titled Everywhere Is Queer.
In the summer of 2021, on his return drive home as a counselor at a queer leadership camp, Sprinkman conceptualized creating a similar "euphoric" space he had experienced all summer-long for queer people to exist in everyday life. A couple of years prior, while traveling the U.S., Sprinkman realized that finding queer hangout spots could be quite difficult.
"I kept Googling "queer hangouts here" or "queer-owned businesses here" or "Where are the queer people in all of these towns," explains Sprinkman while traveling the U.S. in 2019 for a previous job. "Where should I go and eat and support and spend my money? I couldn't find anything. It was really hard for me, and I found myself going to the dating apps," he adds.
Outside hookup apps that don't always feel like a safe space for those looking for something other than sex, there didn't seem to be a resource for queer people to turn to easily. And on that long drive home from camp, like an epiphany, the phrase "Everywhere Is Queer" kept coming to mind.
Everywhere Is Queer consists of a website that stores a worldwide database in the form of a map of LGBTQ-owned businesses and an Instagram page highlighting some of these companies.
Seven months after the launch, with over 500,000 website views and 1,000+ worldwide businesses already added to the list, Everywhere Is Queer is set to become one of the largest online databases highlighting LGBTQ-owned enterprises. The Instagram page has also racked up over 12,000 followers, including celebrities like Tommy Dorfman.
Sprinkman acknowledges that the idea of Everywhere Is Queer is not an original concept. When asked by Out Traveler where the idea originated, he cited the inspiration behind the community resource, referencing Sadie Harrison's Hotel and Apartment Guide, published in 1930, The Green Book by Victor Hugo Green, published in 1936, and more recently in February 2021, the website and Instagram handle @blackownedeverything, founded and curated by Beyoncé's Award-winning costume designer Zerina Akers.
According to a 2020 report by First Insight, 73 percent of Gen Z shoppers surveyed were inclined to spend more on sustainable products than every other generation. While resources like Everywhere Is Queer are paramount in creating safe spaces and a sense of community, they also allow consumers to target spending and support businesses owned by women, the LGBTQ+ community, and other minorities. They can also help consumers find ethical, sustainable, and cruelty-free products and services.
With 1 in 6 Gen Z adults identifying as LGBTQ+, and with this number expected to grow, a source like Everywhere Is Queer is necessary. The last thing we want to do as LGBTQ+ consumers is buy a chicken sandwich with two pickles on a toasted butter bun only to discover that the fast food chain has a lengthy record of contributing to anti-LGBTQ+ organizations and causes.
While most businesses on everywhereisqueer.com are concentrated in the U.S., many are listed in Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Germany, Hong Kong, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Anyone can add a company to the map by going to Everywhere Is Queer's website and filling out an online form. Sprinkman says that while companies can opt to make a donation — which goes towards the operating costs of running the site and the time he dedicates to creating content to spread the word — contributions are not mandatory.
As for where he sees Everywhere Is Queer growing in the future — Sprinkman hopes to build an app to make the businesses even more accessible. Any donation that companies make goes towards the site's progression and eventual app development and maintenance.
Most importantly, Sprinkman wants everyone to know, "We are everywhere. It may take a second to find people, but I hope that Everywhere Is Queer can allow you to connect and meet queer folks to allow you to have a safer traveling experience or just a greater way to make connections."