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LGBTQ Maine AAmp’s Andrew Ashey discusses running an LGBTQ+ Business in Maine

As part of Pride month this June, Andrew joined 11 other LGBTQ+ owned businesses in Maine to discuss the challenges and opportunities it presents. Access the full feature here.

What’s it Like Owning and Marketing an LGBTQ-Owned Business?

By Rich Brooks

Running a business is never easy. Most days feel like you’re juggling plates. On a unicycle. That’s on fire.

You need to balance operations, finances, marketing, sales, quality control, human resources, legal, and a host of other issues competing for your attention.

But for owners that come from marginalized communities, there can be additional challenges, but also opportunities.

One such community is LGBTQ. These days, LGTBQ stories fill the news. On one hand, gay marriage has been legal in all 50 US states since 2015. On the other, Florida recently passed what’s known as the “don’t say gay” bill, greatly restricting what can be taught in schools regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, with many other states looking to follow. Similarly, Texas is trying to pass what many consider to be anti-transgender laws, again, with other states looking to create similar legislation.

Despite this environment, many members of the LGBTQ community are running businesses, hiring workers, and contributing to the US economy through entrepreneurship…truly embracing the “American Dream.”

According to the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, in 2021 there were 1.4 million LGBTQ-run companies in the US, accounting for 1.7 trillion a year in revenue. Still, stories of people tearing down Pride Flags and signs (or worse) from businesses are all too common.

To get a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities LGBTQ-owned businesses face, I reached out to several here in our home state of Maine for interviews. Not everyone was willing to talk, and some felt they didn’t have much to add because their identity wasn’t part of their business or who they served.

In the end, I collected interviews with twelve businesses, both via email and Zoom calls.