A New Business Order
Everywhere is Queer
Everywhere Is Queer: Mapping LGBTQ-Owned Businesses Around the World
By Ryann Brooks
Three years ago, Charlie Sprinkman (he/they) was traveling the United States for a job with a large organic beverage company, searching for queer hangouts in the 42 states he visited. The results were often nonexistent. In January, Sprinkman took matters into his own hands with the launch of “Everywhere is Queer” — an online directory of LGBTQ+-owned businesses around the world.
“Last summer, in July ‘21, I went and volunteered at Camp Brave Trails, a queer leadership camp for 12-18 year olds,” Sprinkman told BEQ Pride this month. “I left that space, … and I was like, ‘Wow, that was so amazing.’ No one made any comments about my voice and I’d never felt so comfortable.”
For Sprinkman, the camp was a bastion of inclusion. The type of space that many long for, and brought with it the sense of belonging that he never had growing up in Wisconsin.
“I truly did not have any other queer people or … adult influences in my life,” he said. “What I hope and what this means to me is giving spaces for people that aren’t even out. I think a lot about our youth, but also adults who just maybe will find a queer-owned sandwich spot or coffee shop where they can sit and just see queer people driving, working, having a career.”
Maybe, he said, he can help someone see other queer people existing.
Sprinkman wanted to recreate that feeling of camp, everyday. All around the world. Driving back to Colorado, the name “Everywhere is Queer” popped into his head.
“I pulled over and I was just Googling and trying to find something on my phone, going through all of the Google pages just to find this idea of a worldwide map of queer spaces,” he said. “I couldn’t find anything. All I could find was articles to ‘support these eight queer-owned businesses.’”
Sprinkman continued the search from home, hoping it would be easier to locate something from a computer. Still, a database or list didn’t exist.
“I said, ‘I’m gonna try to build something,’” Sprinkman said. “I just came up with exactly what Everywhere is Queer is today.”
Launched on January 2, Everywhere is Queer has already grown to include 900 queer-owned businesses all over the world, including Hong Kong, Istanbul and Uganda. Most importantly, each business has been added by the business owner.
“I want them to have that consent factor,” Sprinkman said. “I haven’t added a single business that hasn’t requested to be added themselves.”
When a business requests to join the database, Sprinkman receives an email. He then checks out the business’s social media presence and web site.
“It’s a little bit of a process,” he said, adding that he does not add anything that hasn’t been specifically requested by the business owner. “I have people tell me all the time, ‘Hey, you should add this business.’ I probably respond like, ‘We don’t add any of the businesses, but you should send that business our page,’ or I’ll reach out to them.”
Everywhere is Queer’s Instagram page has gained more than 11,900 followers in four months — all organic follows.
“We’ve never paid $1 toward our Instagram,” Sprinkman said.
If that wasn’t enough, the site has generated more than 453,000 clicks since its launch four and a half months ago. Sprinkman fully expects to hit more than 1 million views within the next few months, though he continues to feel humbled by the response to the site.
“It just goes up by the tens of thousands every single day,” Sprinkman said. “I’ve literally cried over this just because of the emails and the DMs I’ve received of people just genuinely saying thank you. It’s not only, ‘thank you for creating this,’ but things like ‘I’m so excited to travel’ and ‘I feel safer traveling now.’ It’s been beautiful.”
And this is just the beginning.
Sprinkman is the first to agree that Everywhere is Queer isn’t perfect, and he doesn’t expect it to be.
“I created all of this by myself,” he said, noting that he’s partially colorblind. “Literally every single thing has been created by myself and I just kinda did it. I figured it out.”
Sprinkman operates Everywhere is Queer on his off-time from a full-time job and hasn’t made any money from the database yet.
“It’s really beautiful to see all this traction that it’s getting, because it deserves it,” he said. “It’s a community resource that’s needed.”
Looking ahead, Sprinkman would love to make Everywhere is Queer a full-time job and grow it into a larger business and employ more queer folks to work alongside him.
“We are totally going to make that happen,” Sprinkman said. “It’s my dream. We have some really exciting collaborations and some big projects in the works right now. And they’re not just for Pride month, because we’re queer 365 days of the year, not just in June. Hopefully we can take Everywhere is Queer to the next level. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.”
You can connect with Everywhere is Queer by following @everywhereisqueer on Instagram, or visit https://www.everywhereisqueer.com.
Ryann Brooks is an experienced news reporter with a demonstrated history of working in the newspaper industry. Skilled in Archival Research, Microsoft Word, Journalism, Archival Management, and Web Design. Strong media and communication professional.
For anyone feeling they do not “have any other queer people or … adult influences” in their lives, the BEQ Pride Editorial team offers our LGBTQ Leaders List full of accomplished young Queer and Trans Individuals in government, small business, corporate, academia and nonprofit.