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Absolut Vodka at vanguard of LGBTQ engagement

Iconic brand among first to embrace its queer customers



Absolut Vodka has spent decades sending a message of solidarity as clear and potent as its product.

Pride parade-goers given to grouse about the sheer volume of corporate floats, logos, and swag may well have a point about over-saturation. Yet as the year of Stonewall 50 winds down, it’s worth noting that for the longest time, mainstream brands wouldn’t be seen in public, even in June, with the community they now unabashedly woo.

Notable exceptions exist. American Airlines, IBM, and Wells Fargo have long been present, year-round, in LGBTQ-specific media—but beyond paying Pride month lip service, most high-profile players have yet to establish a presence. Apple and Starbucks, for example, cannot claim so much as a single tear sheet from the gay press, or a mainstream ad featuring LGBTQ content.

Absolut Vodka, however, has spent decades sending a message of solidarity as clear and potent as its product.

To date, the progressive Swedish company has spent $31 million+ on LGBTQ marketing, and donated $40 million+ to LGBTQ charities. It launched a campaign with Equality California, joined others in suing the Trump administration for rollbacks to transgender rights, and have been partnering with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation since 1989, when it became a founding sponsor of the GLAAD Media Awards.

Absolut’s direct marketing to the community began in 1981, the company’s timeline notes, with full-page back cover ads in The Advocate and After Dark magazines. Although the first spirit maker to do so, other recognizable names were engaging at the time, says Mike Wilke, a former journalist and founder of

In his capacity as an LGBTQ ad historian, Wilke notes the pre-Absolut presence of Casablanca Records, Yves Saint Laurent, Jägermeister, Coors, and Pernod Ricard in After Dark—the 1968-1983 soft-pornish entertainment magazine whose shirtless cover boys flew off the shelf and under the bed of many a gay man coming into his own.

Even so, “These were all mainstream ads,” Wilke says, noting it would be years before anyone ventured outside the realm of coded content. Absolut imagery included a purple-laced corset worn by a gender-nonspecific individual, and a ruler with “8” at every inch marking.

“At the time, we called it ‘gay vague,’ ” recalls Todd Evans, of Rivendell Media, who places advertisements for the National LGBT Media Association (this publication is among its members). “It was ‘gay’ to you and me, but the mainstream world might not know it.”

Wrote Stuart Elliott, in an October 2011 New York Times article charting Absolut’s 30-year track record, the company “ran its regular ads in the L.G.B.T. media; the 1981 placements were ‘Absolut Perfection,’ with a halo hovering over the bottle. More recently, the brand has sponsored ads that are tailored for the market.”

Still, says Wilke of the early 1980s, associating one’s mainstream product with the gay community “was risky.” (This was less than a decade since the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.)

That lingering stigma was about to have company. As Absolut entered the fray, Wilke recalls, other major advertisers “were actually starting to show interest in the gay market. Then AIDS happened, and everything pulled back.”

Rather than retreating, Absolut doubled down.

“They continued to advertise through the ’80s,” notes Evans, “buying every back page ad that was available in gay media,” as well as hosting special events at brick and mortar establishments.

“It was no secret,” says Evans, “that drinking was a big part of gay culture, so it made sense to have a consistently maintained presence [in print and at bars]. It was an inexpensive way to own the market, and it earned them the thankfulness of the community… Any national advertiser coming into our media, it’s a big deal, to this day. And if you’re over 50, chances are you’re still an Absolut patron, because you remember that time in our lives, of not having acceptance.”

As often happens when untapped markets reveal their profit potential, other spirit makers came pouring into the pages of LGBT (pre-“Q”) magazines and newspapers.

But by that time, says Wilke, Absolut had “maintained their presence for many years, building loyalty and name recognition. So I’d say they’ve been highly successful at being known as one of the most gay-friendly brands of all time, even when they had fierce competition for the gay dollar. A number of competitors were doing, in my opinion, a very good job at marketing. But they got there much later.”

With increased cultural visibility came gay-specific ad content. In 2000, an “Absolut GLAAD” ad sung the organization’s praises—and in 2008, the “In an Absolut World” ad had pumped-up baseball fans in the foreground, implying approval of the message on the scoreboard behind them (“Mark will you marry me?—Steve”). Absolut was also an early adopter of a little show called “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” becoming a presenting sponsor in 2011, while it was still airing on Logo.

“That was a real risk,” says Evans. “Either the show was going to take off, or it wasn’t. So it shows a level of willingness to keep moving forward.”

“In the early days,” says Wilke, “we were thrilled to be validated by a major advertiser… Speaking as a gay man who pays attention to this stuff, I feel more excited when I see a great ad that speaks to me, more than I do with a general market ad. I think it’s a natural reaction, and that’s why it’s done.”

John McCourt, GLAAD’s Senior Director of Business Development & Integrated Marketing, notes, “When brands authentically represent LGBTQ people and the issues that affect the community most in their marketing, then they can certainly expect to attract more LGBTQ consumers. Authenticity is key.”

But acknowledging our orientation is not enough, says McCourt, who notes companies “need to recognize the difference between supporting the LGBTQ community and marketing to them,” especially in a “a post-marriage-equality United States” where the community “expects more from brands than choosing to wrap a rainbow around their products.”

Aligning one’s ad campaign with LGBTQ nonprofits is “essential,” asserts McCourt, who cites Transgender Awareness Week and LGBTQ History Month among the “plethora of reasons to support LGBTQ people all year round,” as opposed to ghosting us once the last speck of June glitter has been cleared from the gutter.

“We believe that outreach, engagement, and support is an ongoing commitment that lasts well beyond June Pride Month,” says Absolut Vice President Regan Clarke, who cites the Absolut Pride Bottle as an example. Once designed in partnership with the late Gilbert Baker (the Pride flag designer), the Pride bottle, Clarke notes, “now has nationwide, yearlong distribution.”

“That shows you what level they’re at,” says Evans. “That’s what advertising is all about—reminding you, ‘We’re here, and we’re going to be here.’ And think about how that has helped the market. Stoli Vodka did a campaign this year [and previously], where they did a commemorative Pride bottle. So Absolut is encouraging more business in the gay market, because other companies are trying to do something different, or outdo them.”

Asked how they intend to maintain their foothold, Clarke said Absolut is committed to “provoking dialogue that leads to cultural change every day.”

To that end, Absolut’s multi-year commitment to GLAAD, McCourt notes, “has helped us to grow our media representation programs, such as the GLAAD Media Institute, our Transgender Media Program, and Spanish Language & Latinx Media Program.”

McCourt describes the Absolut team as “well aware of the nuances that come with marketing to a marginalized community,” noting they “welcomed GLAAD’s guidance” for Absolut’s David LaChapelle Stonewall-inspired Pride campaign and Celebrating Trans Acceptance film.

Of their LGBTQ-centric advertising, outreach, and philanthropy, Clarke says Absolut hopes other corporate entities “will listen, learn, and take action… We only celebrate when everyone is invited.”



Walt Disney company shareholders reject anti-trans policy

Anti-trans activist Chloe Cole, who opposes gender-affirming care for minors and supports bans on such care addressed shareholders



Partners is a 1993 copper statue by Blaine Gibson depicting Walt Disney holding the hand of the most popular character he created, Mickey Mouse. (Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney Company)

BURBANK, Calif. – The annual Walt Disney Company shareholders meeting took on a contentious environment Wednesday as far right anti-trans activists attempted to push through a measure that would force Disney to pay for services for transgender people who choose to detransition.

Anti-trans activist and California resident, 19-year-old Chloe Cole, who opposes gender-affirming care for minors and supports bans on such care following her own detransition, has traveled across the nation testifying in legislative hearings, addressed shareholders.

“Disney pays for gender transition interventions, but not detransitioning care,” Cole said.“ Therefore, the company discriminates based on gender identity, under [government] regulations.”

Los Angeles based journalist Lil Kalish reported that Cole spoke as an advocate for Do No Harm, a group of conservative medical professionals who are skeptical of gender-affirming care, and presented the proposal on behalf of the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative group that challenges what they see as abuse and corruption in government and business.

Kalish noted that lawmakers in Florida, which is home to the Walt Disney World Resort, recently failed to pass a bill that would force state insurance plans to cover “detransition treatments.” Other states have tried to pass laws that create a private cause of action for patients and families to sue medical facilities.

According to Kalish, the anti-transgender proposal was one of several advanced by far right conservatives. One shareholder proposal targeted the company’s contributions to politicians who support anti-abortion laws and former President Donald Trump’s stolen election claims. Another from the National Center for Public Policy Research, a Disney shareholder, urged the company to disclose its charitable contributions of $5,000 or more and criticized Disney for pursuing “radical gender ideology” by contributing to organizations that support the LGBTQ+ community, such as GLSEN and the Trevor Project.

Ultimately the board rejected these proposals.

During the course of the meeting, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger defeated hedge fund activist investor Nelson Peltz of Trian Partners. The New York Times reported Trian had spent $25 million to get shareholders to vote for its two board candidates. Iger’s victory ended the months-long fighting over the future direction of the entertainment giant.

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Out LA Dodgers executive & husband buy GYM Sportsbar & Grill

Eric Braverman, an openly gay executive, oversees the Dodgers’ PRIDE Business Resource Group & launched the club’s first Pride Night in 2013



GYM Sportsbar and Grill West Hollywood (Photo by Ed Uyelp)

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – Erik Braverman, the openly gay senior vice president of the Los Angeles Dodgers, his husband Jonathan Cottrell, and other investors under Bravecoot Ventures LLC, are on the verge of acquiring Gym Sportsbar and Grill in West Hollywood located at 8919 Santa Monica Blvd (also known as Gym Bar).

The purchase is currently pending approval according to the California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC).

Braverman is in his 14th year with the Dodgers and has had a major impact on the growth of the Dodger brand as it continues to expand beyond the world of baseball. In his role as Senior Vice President, Marketing, Communications and Broadcasting, Braverman manages the Dodgers’ local and national broadcast relationships and directs the club’s marketing and communications initiatives, helping drive ticket sales and place the club in a position to lead the Majors in attendance each of the last seven years.

He also oversees the club’s internal productions, creative efforts and the Dodgers’ social media, which has set the standard for fan engagement and grown to become one of the most followed teams in baseball across all platforms.

An openly gay executive, Braverman oversees the Dodgers’ PRIDE Business Resource Group and launched the club’s first Pride Night in 2013, which has helped foster the team’s strong year-round relationship with the LGBTQ community and grown into the most well-attended annual event of its kind in all of sports.

Braverman resides in West Hollywood with his husband, Jonathan Cottrell. They both exchanged vows in front of close friends and family at Dodgers Stadium on January 2022.

“Jonathan and I are excited to share this news publicly,” reads a post on Braverman’s instagram account regarding their purchase of Gym Sportsbar. “We would also like to take a moment to recognize and thank our incredible partners, without whom this would not be possible. They all share the same enthusiasm and passion that we do for GYM Sportsbar and Grill West Hollywood.”

In a joint statement, Braverman and Cottrell expressed their dedication to preserving and enhancing Gym Sportsbar’s legacy, envisioning it as a beacon of community, diversity, and excellence in West Hollywood. They emphasized their goal of creating an inclusive space that respects the past while embracing the future, fostering connections and camaraderie among patrons, according to OUTSPORTS.

Gym Sportsbar dates back to 2005 when it first opened as Gym Bar in NY. The WeHo location first opened in October 2, 2009 at 8737 Santa Monica Boulevard. It closed at that location shortly after celebrating 10 years in 2022. It reopened a few blocks away at its current location as Gym Sportsbar and Grill in 2021.

Rick Schmutzler, one of the founders of Gym Sportsbar, expressed confidence in Braverman and Cottrell, stating they are well-positioned to lead Gym Sportsbar into the future with new partnerships and opportunities, reports OUTSPORTS. With over a decade of operation in Los Angeles and a recent relocation to West Hollywood, Schmutzler is stepping away from the business, trusting Braverman and Cottrell to guide its trajectory.

Operating a bar entails significant effort, but Braverman and Cottrell affirm their readiness for the task ahead, supported by their entire investment team.


Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist.


The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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CBS News: Mitchell Gold’s furniture went bankrupt, here’s how

The company became an American success story until last month, when the company went bankrupt. Now, $50 million dollars have vanished



Furniture company co-founder Mitchell Gold being interviewed by CBS News correspondent Brook Silva-Braga. (Screenshot/YouTube CBS News)

TAYLORSVILLE, N.C. – In 1989, Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams founded a furniture store bearing their names. The company became an American success story until last month, when the company went bankrupt. Now, $50 million in customer deposits have vanished.

CBS Saturday Morning’s Brook Silva-Braga has the story.

“CBS Saturday Morning” co-hosts Jeff Glor, Michelle Miller and Dana Jacobson deliver two hours of original reporting and breaking news, as well as profiles of leading figures in culture and the arts. Watch “CBS Saturday Morning” at 7 a.m. ET on CBS and 8 a.m. ET on the CBS News app.

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Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture co. abruptly shuts down

The furniture manufacturing and retail company Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, named after the two gay businessmen who founded the firm



Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

TAYLORSVILLE, N.C. – The furniture manufacturing and retail company Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, named after the two gay businessmen who founded the firm in 1989 before selling it in 2015, announced last week that it is shutting down all its operations due to a sudden loss of financing.

During the years of Gold and Williams’s ownership, the company expanded its operations from a single furniture store in D.C. to the operation of 24 high-end furniture stores across the country and three furniture factories in North Carolina.

Gold couldn’t immediately be reached by the Washington Blade for comment.

The Washington Post reported that many of the company’s estimated 800 employees received word of the shutdown and their impending layoff over the past weekend through a letter posted at the company’s factories and stores by the Stephens Group, a Little Rock, Ark., equity firm that bought the company from Gold and Williams in 2015.

“Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams has recently and unexpectedly learned that we are unable to continue business operations,” the Post quotes the letter as saying. “As you may know, the current economic climate has presented significant challenges to the furniture industry… [The company] has recently and unexpectedly learned that we are unable to secure critical financing to continue business operations,” the letter states.

According to reports by the Post and the furniture industry publications Furniture Today and Business Of Home, Gold and Williams initially sold the company in 1998 to Rowe Furniture in an arrangement that allowed them to continue managing the company’s operations.

The Post report says the two men, who originally named the company Mitchell Gold, bought the company back in 2002 with a group of New York investors and renamed it Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. Williams and Gold sold the company once again in 2015 to the Stephens Group while remaining on the company’s board and in company management.

The media reports about the shutdown say Gold, 72, retired in 2019, and Williams, 61, retired in 2022. The Post reports that the two men still sit on the board as observers.

Furniture Today reports that Gold served as board chair emeritus after his 2019 retirement and “reengaged with the company” earlier this year to support company CEO Chris Moye.

“I was devastated and in shock. Both Bob and I are,” Gold told the Post in recounting his feelings upon learning of the shutdown. “And if I had to use one word, it’s heartbroken.”

An employee who answered the phone at the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams store in D.C. at 1526 14th Street, N.W., told the Blade on Wednesday that a liquidation sale of the store’s merchandise would take place Saturday, Sept. 2.

Often with Gold acting as host, the upscale D.C. store has opened its doors for LGBTQ events, including fundraising events for local and national LGBTQ organizations.

Gold and Williams have been credited with emerging as advocates for LGBTQ equality during their years living in North Carolina while operating the company’s main furniture factory in rural Taylorsville, N.C. In 2005, Gold founded the LGBTQ organization Faith in America with the mission of combating “religious-based bigotry” targeting the LGBTQ community.

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Outdoor retailer The North Face affirms commitment to inclusivity

The North Face released its new Pride month collection earlier this week, and included a video featuring drag queen Pattie Gonia



'Summer of Pride' advertising campaign. (Screenshot/YouTube)

DENVER, CO. – After a targeted campaign by far-right transphobic and homophobic groups and individuals on social media platforms aimed at American outdoor recreation products company The North Face, for its LGBTQ+ ‘Summer of Pride’ advertising, the Denver-based company responded affirming its commitment to LGBTQ+ and allied consumers.

“The North Face has always believed the outdoors should be a welcoming, equitable and safe place for all,” the company said in a statement, pointing out that the ‘Summer of Pride’ series is now in its second year and has helped “individuals from all backgrounds experience the outdoors.”

“Creating community and belonging in the outdoors is a core part of our values and is needed now more than ever. We stand with those who support our vision for a more inclusive outdoor industry.”

The North Face released its new Pride month collection earlier this week, and included a video featuring drag queen Pattie Gonia, whose appearance set off the firestorm of homophobia and anti-LGBTQ+ hate speech.

In a statement, LGBTQ+ media advocacy group GLAAD responded:

“Including LGBTQ people and holding true to your corporate values is good for business. The North Face is following hundreds of other businesses that include and stand with LGBTQ people and our allies. At a time when over 20% of Gen Z is LGBTQ and a supermajority of Americans support LGBTQ people, The North Face’s decision should be a signal to other companies that including LGBTQ people and allies is better for business than siding with a small number of violent extremists who want to keep LGBTQ consumers and employees invisible.”

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Comcast: NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell gone, cites improprieties

“Today is my last day […] I had an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company, which I deeply regret. I’m truly sorry”



Jeff Shell, former Chief Executive Officer of NBCUniversal (Los Angeles Blade graphic)

PHILADELPHIA- Global media and technology giant Comcast announced Sunday that the Company and Jeff Shell, Chief Executive Officer of NBCUniversal, have mutually agreed that he will depart effective immediately following the Company’s investigation led by outside counsel into a complaint of inappropriate conduct.

“Today is my last day as CEO of NBCUniversal. I had an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company, which I deeply regret. I’m truly sorry I let my Comcast and NBCUniversal colleagues down, they are the most talented people in the business and the opportunity to work with them the last 19 years has been a privilege,” Shell said in a statement.

Variety reported that a successor to Shell has not been named. Shell’s senior team will now report directly to Mike Cavanagh, president of Comcast Corporation.

In a memo that sent shockwaves through the company, Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts and Cavanagh wrote, “We are disappointed to share this news with you. We built this company on a culture of integrity. Nothing is more important than how we treat each other. You should count on your leaders to create a safe and respectful workplace. When our principles and policies are violated, we will always move quickly to take appropriate action, as we have done here.”

Comcast is a major employer in Southern California employing thousands with Xfinity/Comcast, as well as producing, distributing, and streaming entertainment, sports, and news through platforms including NBC, Telemundo, Universal, Peacock, and Sky.

The company also runs theme parks and attractions through Universal Destinations & Experiences including its Universal Studios Hollywood.

Shell was named Chief Executive Officer of NBCUniversal in January 2020.

In a bio posted the company website, the company also noted he had previously served as Chairman of NBCUniversal Film and Entertainment from 2013 to 2019. Over the course of his tenure, Universal celebrated four years of record profit, and the two most profitable years in the studio’s 107- year history with titles from some of its biggest franchises such as Fast & Furious, Jurassic World and Illumination’s Despicable Me. Additionally, the company acquired DreamWorks Animation in 2016.

Prior to joining UFEG, Shell served as Chairman of NBCUniversal International and previously served as President of Comcast Programming Group.

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Knott’s Berry Farm is planning to hire 2,500 seasonal employees 

The weeklong job fair will be held at Knott’s Berry Farm Feb. 18 until Feb. 24. Interviews will take place daily between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.



Courtesy of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

BUENA PARK, Calif. – As the new Spring and Summer seasonal events ready to launch, Knott’s Berry Farm announced that it is hiring 2,500 seasonal employees.

Parent company Cedar Fair Entertainment Company announced in a press release Monday that this is the largest hiring campaign for all of its parks as it plans to add approximately 35,000 seasonal associates to help staff its parks in 2023.

The company anticipates filling up to 80% of those roles – or 28,000 jobs – during a week-long hiring blitz to be held across all its parks in the United States and Canada Feb. 18-24. It promises to be the largest recruiting event in Cedar Fair’s history.

The weeklong job fair will be held at Knott’s Berry Farm from Feb. 18 until Feb. 24. Interviews will take place daily between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Courtesy of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

Knott’s Berry Farm will be hiring for a variety of positions, including:

  • Ride operators 
  • Food and Beverage
  • Lifeguards and Aquatics
  • Security
  • And many more roles.

The hourly pay ranges from $16 to $19 and those with prior experience can earn even more, according to a company news release.

“Our seasonal associates play an important role in our mission of delivering amazing experiences to all of our guests,” said Tim Fisher, Cedar Fair chief operating officer. “We’re proud to offer highly competitive wages and amazing perks, and a seasonal job at one of our parks can offer so much more than other workplaces. You can gain valuable experience, develop marketable skills for the future, and make new friends in a fun and unique environment while being part of something truly special. Our parks offer a job that’s fun for everyone, with a variety of shifts to meet the needs of those interested in full-time, part-time, seasonal and occasional work hours.”

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Black Joy, a fat body candle celebration for Black History Month

Morgan creates trans inclusive, gender-free candles that allow people to see their bodies, & the bodies of people they love in accessible art



Photo courtesy of Jodyann Morgan (Photo by McKenna Patterson)

MILWAUKEE – A Black, queer owned candle company based in Milwaukee, founded by Jodyann Morgan in November of 2021, has quickly become an internet sensation, with many prominent plus size, Black, and LGBTQ influencers sharing the candles on their social media platforms.

To celebrate Black History Month, the company’s founder launched the Black Joy collection. Trauma, death and sorrow are deeply intertwined with the Black lived experience, Morgan says but Black joy is critical to survival. Her Black Joy collection pays tribute to Black creativity, expression, excellence, and euphoria.

Her company, CTOAN, is best known for gender free body sculpture candles that are size fat, and also occasionally offers tealights, mini fat body wax melts and luxurious jarred candles. The company prides itself in giving back to the community with a portion of sales from every collection donated to various causes.

Morgan in a press release stated that she never dreamed of owning a small business. With over a decade of sport and entertainment security under her belt, she was simply in search of a hobby when she started making candles in early 2021.

By November 13th of that year she had a website, a business name, a kitchen full of candle making supplies, and an eager community celebrating her business launch with a flood of orders. In March of 2022, after celebrating her 35th birthday, she left her security job to be a full time business owner. 

Morgan creates lovingly hand poured, trans inclusive, gender-free candles (including 7 original designs!) that allow people to see their bodies, and the bodies of people they love, in accessible art.

Photo courtesy of Jodyann Morgan (Photo by McKenna Patterson)

This past November, her company celebrated one year of loudly and proudly creating art that makes a difference.

Her candles have been featured in national and local media, by celebrities like Gabrielle Union and Tess Holliday, and by dozens of the most popular influencers of all body types, genders, and backgrounds.

Morgan is married to Chaya Milchtein aka The Mechanic Shop Femme, a queer automotive influencer. Their wedding was featured in the New York Times.

The Black Joy collection will be available in two colorways:

  • The first is a layered candle in the colors of the pan african flag – green, yellow and red – evoking freedom from colonialism and tyranny. Being from Jamaica, this colorway was a familiar sight for Jodyann. 
  • Jodyann’s second design is pink, teal and yellow, in a hand painted floral print. The leopard print candle is a celebration of maximalism – an exaltation of Black trans women, cis women and femmes living loudly and proudly, consequences be damned.

The candles come in three complex scents:

  • Figs & Molasses
  • Floral Euphoria
  • Cocoa Butter Cashmere 

Each candle will cost $35. 

With a focus on giving back, last year Morgan donated over $4100 to mutual aid funds and non profits serving her communities. Her Black Joy collection continues the tradition, with $2 from every candle being donated to Roots & River Productions, which produces the work of queer and trans Black artists. 

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Frontier Airlines announces “all-you-can-fly” summer pass

Airline welcomed a new plane to its fleet, Hamber the California Condor, named after Jan Hamber, an American ornithologist & conservationist



Courtesy of Frontier Airlines

DENVER – Frontier Airlines announced a new “all-you-can-fly” summer pass this week.

It costs $399 and includes nearly unlimited flights between May and September. There are currently more than 100 destinations. Flights will cost 1 cent plus taxes and fees for pass-holders. This includes charges for seats or checked baggage.

Frontier also plans to add new non-stop services between multiple cities and Puerto Rico this summer. Flights will be available to book starting May 2.

The airline also unveiled its latest tribute aircraft- Hamber the California Condor.

The California condor is the largest flying bird in North America. Their wings stretch nearly 10 feet from tip to tip. Hamber is named after Jan Hamber, an American ornithologist and conservationist. While working at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History in the 1970s, she became involved in the effort to save the California condor. She played a significant role in the condor’s survival in the wild.

In a statement released on social media, the airlines said: “Frontier is committed to reducing our carbon footprint, protecting the environment, and bringing awareness to incredible animals, such as Hamber, who need our help.”

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Queer to Stay grants announced, four LA businesses are recipients

“The Los Angeles Blade is honored to be one of these four grant recipients and we thank Showtime & HRC,” said Troy Masters



Los Angeles Blade graphic

LOS ANGELES – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, and SHOWTIME announced Tuesday that four Los Angeles businesses, Detroit Vesey’sLos Angeles BladeSalon Benders and Urbody, as recipients of “Queer to Stay: An LGBTQ+ Business Preservation Initiative” to support and uplift small businesses that focus on LGBTQ+ people of color, women and the transgender community who continue to be impacted by economic setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year, on top of economic setbacks from COVID, we’ve seen a disturbing rise in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and attacks, including harm to some LGBTQ+ small businesses. That’s why it is critical to uphold affirming, welcoming spaces and services for our LGBTQ+ communities,” said Kelley Robinson, HRC President. “This initiative celebrates and supports our community by putting funds directly into the hands of multiply marginalized LGBTQ+ owned, and serving, small businesses around the country. We’re excited to partner with SHOWTIME once again to ensure that LGBTQ+ patrons, employees and business owners continue to occupy spaces freely and without exception as their authentic selves.”

The four Los Angeles businesses that will receive Queer to Stay grants are the following:

  • Detroit Vesey’s – Erin Detroit Vesey is the owner and chef of Detroit Vesey’s, a cafe designed with the intention of being a place for folks in LGBTQ+ and cycling communities.” Erin wanted to create a “daytime space” for LGBTQ+ people that did not focus on nightlife, and was inspired by the community that they witnessed during AIDS Lifecycle, a “bike ride from San Francisco to LA that raises funds to fight HIV/AIDS and the stigma, where everyone is welcome to participate and work towards a common goal.”
  • Los Angeles Blade – Troy Masters founded the Los Angeles Blade after realizing that LA was  “a city that – despite its importance – had no LGBT newspaper.” Masters had over two decades of LGBTQ+ journalism experience after founding Gay City News in New York during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Since its founding, the Los Angeles Blade has become one of the most well-respected sources for LGBTQ+ news.
  • Salon Benders – Jessie Santiago, co-owner and founder of Salon Benders, founded the salon to be a trauma-informed space for LGBTQ+ people after she had experienced working in a number of “toxic work environments that encouraged unhealthy habits” and took a toll on her physical and mental health. With encouragement from her partner and now co-owner of Salon Benders, Santiago created a salon “where people can come as they are and leave a better version of themselves.”
  • Urbody – Mere Abrams and Anna Graham co-founded Urbody to be a high-quality, gender affirming underwear and activewear brand that will display “positive, humanized representations of gender diversity.” Abrams and Graham wanted to create a “safe and affirming” shopping experience for all people that includes options for people across the gender spectrum, and they plan to use some of their grant money to continue designing pieces that accomplish that goal.

“The Los Angeles Blade is honored to be one of these four grant recipients and we thank Showtime & HRC,” said the Blade’s publisher Troy Masters.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the inaugural “Queer to Stay” initiative awarded funds to 10 LGBTQ+ businesses across the country. Since then, it’s been reported that LGBTQ+ businesses were less likely to receive COVID relief funds. At the same time, some LGBTQ+ small businesses have been the target of outrageous, extremist anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and attacks. With many LGBTQ+ businesses continuing to struggle in the economic aftermath of the global pandemic, HRC and SHOWTIME scaled up the initiative to include 25 businesses this year – five more than in 2021 – with a funding pool of $250,000. Watch a video about Queer to Stay here.

The additional awardees of “Queer to Stay: An LGBTQ+ Business Preservation Initiative” include:

Dorothy Downstairs (Chicago, IL), Three Palms Bar & Grill (New Orleans, LA), Stag PDX (Portland, OR), Bake Me Happy (Columbus, OH), Queer Therapy Network (Houston, TX), Celebrate Therapy (Provo, UT), M-Care (Witchita, KS), Queer Kid Stuff (Portland, ME), Harana Market (Woodstock, NY), Urbody (Los Angeles, CA), Peachy Births (Kansas City, MO), PTSFeminist (Atlanta, GA), As You Are (Washington, DC), Santé Bar (Portland, OR), Coffee Mafia (Auburn, AL), Goldspot Brewing Company (Denver, CO), Queer Chocolatier (Muncie, IN), Mountainsong Expeditions (Worcester, VT), Womencrafts (Provincetown, MA), Queer Dance Project (Lakewood, CO), Euphoria (Denver, CO), and Franny Lou’s Porch (Philadelphia, PA).

“I am so proud of SHOWTIME for extending its QUEER TO STAY campaign! Supporting LGBTQ+ businesses combined with all the LGBTQ+ representation in SHOWTIME programming, QUEER TO STAY has made a major impact all over the country,” said actor Jamie Clayton, star of THE L WORD®: GENERATION Q. “I’m honored to star on a show that depicts a vital LGBTQ+ small business on television. Playing Tess, who manages the inclusive, queer space, Dana’s Bar, on THE L WORD: GENERATION Q is such an exciting and vital thrill!”

HRC Foundation has published a research brief outlining the health and economic risks faced by the LGBTQ+ community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Key findings show that many LGBTQ+ people may lack the resources to effectively combat COVID-19; lack access to paid sick leave or live without health coverage; and are more likely to work in an industry that has been most affected by the pandemic, putting them in greater economic jeopardy or increasing their exposure to the virus. HRC Foundation research has also shown that LGBTQ+ people are more likely to be unemployed and to have lost work hours compared to the general population, with transgender people and people of color most at risk.

Season three of THE L WORD: GENERATION Q, the returning series based on the groundbreaking drama series THE L WORD®, is currently airing Friday nights on SHOWTIME. Packed with jaw-dropping surprises and guest stars, this season continues to follow the cast of characters as they struggle with secrets, old scars and new flames on their search for “The One.”

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