Looking for Things Queer Near You? Try 'Everywhere Is Queer'

Thursday April 28, 2022
Originally published on April 18, 2022

When Charlie Sprinkman traveled 42 of the 50 states for his job as a representative of an organic beverage company in 2019, he often Googled "queer hangouts here"and came up empty.

"I couldn't find a resource for it," Sprinkman, 25, told AOL of his searches for a centralized directory of LGBTQ-owned businesses.

But when in the summer of 2021, Sprinkman found himself as counselor at a queer leadership camp for 12- to 18-year-olds outside Los Angeles, and he said being surrounded by 100 LGBTQ people for 11 days was "euphoric."

"I was like, 'How do I create this space?' Maybe not as grand as a camp, but like a space where people can feel this energy and not be judged for who they are," said Sprinkman, who currently lives in Bend, Oregon, and works in customer service.

He came up with the name "Everywhere is Queer" came to his mind. A few months later, in January of this year, it became the name of his LLC.

"'Everywhere Is Queer'consists of both a website that houses a worldwide map of LGBTQ-owned businesses and an Instagram page that shines a spotlight on some of these companies. Three months after the launch,the maphas more than 500 businesses listed, andthe Instagram pagehas nearly 5,000 followers," adds AOL.

"Sprinkman said the project is personal for him, not just as a queer traveler but as someone who didn't know of any LGBTQ-friendly spaces in his small suburban hometown about 30 miles west of Milwaukee."

"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."

Sprinkman says that most of the LGBTQ-owned businesses on the map are concentrated in the U.S. with only four states with none listed yet. He said there are also businesses listed in Germany, Spain, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Costa Rica and Mexico.

Anyone can add a business to the map by going toEverywhere Is Queer's websiteand filling out an online form.

"One business owner listed on the map said she has seen more queer people come into her restaurants.," writes AOL.

"Mel McMillan is the owner ofSammichin Oregon, which sells sandwiches made with house-smoked meats. Both of her Sammich locations, in Portland and Ashland, are listed on the map, as is her food truck, also in Portland."

"If you Google 'lesbian meat maker,' you'll get a real touch of what's going on with me," McMillan said. (It's true:An article about heris the first thing that comes up in the search results for that phrase.)

"Sprinkman said he's also building a job board that allows businesses that are on the map to share job opportunities," adds AOL.

"I also have been searching for a queer-owned business job board, and I cannot find one, so we're building one," he said.

"In the future, he said, he hopes to build an app to house the map and travel around to visit many of the LGBTQ-owned places listed."

"I would love to hit the road and visit and really hear the authentic stories of these queer-owned businesses," he said, adding that "uplifting" the voices of queer business owners is a dream of his.