genderqueer

12th Kentucky city adopts LGBTQ+ Fairness Ordinance!

DAYTON — With a unanimous vote of 5-0 tonight, the Northern Kentucky town of Dayton, population 5,338, became the twelfth city in the Commonwealth with a Fairness Ordinance prohibiting LGBTQ discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

“Dayton is extremely excited to be able to join the other eleven cities, out of 419 in the Commonwealth, to continue to be the welcoming community we know and love,” said Dayton Mayor Ben Baker upon the ordinance’s passage. “If any other river cities need help in embracing the Fairness Ordinance, please reach out. We urge our state leaders to adopt these protections—in Kentucky, y’all means all.”

Dayton City Councilman Joe Neary added, “I genuinely hope this carries up to the state level so cities don’t have to deal by this city by city. I can’t believe we’ll only be the twelfth in the Commonwealth.”

“We expect Dayton will be the first in a series of Northern Kentucky cities to adopt Fairness Ordinances,” shared Northern Kentucky Fairness leader Bonnie Meyer, who also helps run the Northern Kentucky Pride Festival. “We were proud to see Covington challenge its peer cities to follow their lead on LGBTQ rights.”

Eleven other Kentucky cities have adopted local Fairness Ordinances, covering just over a quarter of the state’s population—Louisville (1999), Lexington (1999), Covington (2003), Vicco (2013), Frankfort (2013), Morehead (2013), Danville (2014), Midway (2015), Paducah (2018), Maysville (2018), and Henderson (2019). 2020 will mark the 20th anniversary of the introduction of a Statewide Fairness Law, which has only ever received two informational hearings in the Kentucky General Assembly. This year, nearly a quarter of state legislators co-sponsored the measure.

Lesbian Heaven existed, and it was located in Germantown

By Sarah Gardiner, Nanny Goat Books

Photo by: Camilla Jasis-Wallace

The first time I walked into Purrswaytions was on New Years Eve 2015. 

I was supposed to be on my way to New York, but the flight was canceled and I was desperate for any sort of lesbian energy. Pulling out my phone, I googled the nearest queer bar, saw the word “dive” in the description, and knew I’d found my home for the night. 

Stepping over the threshold was like stepping into a different Louisville than the one where I grew up. This Louisville was loud and glittery and very, very full of lesbians. Femmes and dykes, studs and chapsticks, queer women of every kind milled around the bar. Even more people gathered around pool tables in a room off to the side, and I could hear the unmistakable thump of a dance floor in the back. 

Lesbian Heaven existed, and it was located in Germantown. 

Since that night, Purrswaytions has become something of a home base for me and my queer life in Louisville. Some of my best friends have been made over beers at the rainbow lit bar, and I’ve had the joy of getting to know the lovely owners, Matt and Tina, who care more about their community than any other bar owners I’ve ever met. Over the 7+ years they have owned Purr, they’ve truly created a family of regulars who support one another and take care of each other in times of need. If someone is sick or in need of a little help, they have time and time again hosted fundraisers and benefits to bring the community together and lend whatever support they could spare. 

I’ve traveled a lot, lived in major cities with queer scenes bigger than my younger, Kentucky-bred lesbian self could dream of. But none of these bars and none of these places have ever felt as welcoming as walking through the doors of Purrswaytions and being greeted on a first-name basis. 

There are awesome people everywhere, and Louisville is lucky enough to have an abundance of queer-owned and queer-friendly spaces, but to make a community into a family you need to have a home. Purrswaytions is an underrated home in the Louisville queer community. Give it a chance—hell, give it a few—you just never know who you’re going to meet at such a queer staple. And, in the mean time, you’ll have the chance to support your local lesbian bar and hang around some truly lovely people. 

Kentucky’s Gender inclusive apparel brand gives back

What is BLoFISH?

We are a clothing company based in Louisville, KY. Known for our amazingly soft fabrics, All 4 All message, being gender neutral, and our 10% giveback program. We were founded in 2014 and opened our first store in Louisville in 2016. We are still small, but have a solid online presence and have sold to 20 cites, all 50 states, and 7 countries.

What is your mission?

Our mission is to ensure everyone has the same opportunities in life. Whether that be in traditional economic opportunities, education, racial equality, gender equality, or anything else. We believe in our “All 4 All” mission. No matter one’s sex, race, religion, sexual orientation or abilities everyone should have the same opportunities centered around equality. The message is deeply ingrained into our company’s culture and customers, with 10% of every sale going directly to social justice issues.

How do you financially give back to communities? How do you give back differently than larger corporations?

We believe in the power of grassroots organizations, particularly those who are on the ground doing the non-profit work that has a direct visible impact on the communities they are located in. We do give to national organizations, but we prefer to give to causes that support the communities we know our money will make the most impact.

Our business model is revolutionary and much different than what corporations are doing now, particularly in our industry. To put it simply for every $100 in sales we donate $10 to organizations we believe have an impact on the world. While 10% may not sound like a lot, it is exponentially higher than most corporations. Effectively, we created the ultimate Public Benefit Corporation before it was even a thing. How can we do this? We treat our accounting as if the 10% never existed, we work 10% harder, keep lower inventory counts, don’t take (and never will take) crazy bonuses or salaries, and don’t (and never will) have multi-million dollar campuses costing even more millions to maintain.

Here are some numbers:

  • At $100k in sales, we donated $10k to organizations.
  • At $1 million in sales, we will donate $100k to organizations.
  • At $100 million in sales, we will donate $10 million to organizations.
  • As a $1 billion dollar company (knock on wood) we will donate $100 million to organizations.

To put that into comparison, a company in the same industry (and pays their top 6 positions $21 million dollars a year) did $3.8 billion last year. They haven’t released a charitable report online since 2016, but on it they show their foundation has only given on average $400K a year. With our model, alone in 2018 we would have give $380 million to charity. https://www.aeo-inc.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/AEO_CSR.pdf (page 9)

Another question we get often with this model and the look of our stores is “how expensive is it?” Our prices are in-line with all the major players, including Nike, American Eagle, Abercrombie, and less expensive than the likes of Lululemon and Bonobos while still using fabrics that are fantastic. I can’t tell you the amount of people who walk by and are surprised when they find out our prices despite the clean, expensive look of our stores.

Going a little off topic. I think one thing average Americans struggle with in terms to the wealthy in this country is just how big those numbers are. While it may seem like a company donating $400k a year, it’s all relative. Here’s what that looks like next to their 2018 profit.

$1,370,000,000

$400,000        

Try and type that top number in your phone calculator. Unless you turn it sideways it’s not even possible. That is 1,370 MILLIONS. No wonder we have a hard time comprehending just how rich the uber wealthy are.

How are your employees paid and how are you paid?

We are still a small company, but we’ve tried to build a culture here where we pay everyone a decent wage, but still work hard. Everyone we’ve brought on full-time has been paid the same, which makes for a cool work-place. Hopefully we can keep it up as we grow. One thing I really believe in is people taking responsibility for themselves, which includes taking as much time off as long as they can find someone to pick up on their responsibilities. It makes it tough being small, but so far we’ve been able to pull it off and should only get easier as we have more resources.

As for myself, I still haven’t taken a dime out of BLoFISH. Luckily I’ve been able to support myself enough in other ways. I don’t plan on taking anything out of BLoFISH so long as I see new products and expansion that needs to be done, which won’t be for a while. There are tons of designs and tons of people who haven’t been touched by BLoFISH, and until that’s done or we have enough resources I can’t see myself taking money out of the company.

What other communities would you like to reach out to?

We’ve hit on a lot of different communities, so there’s not one specific we feel like we need to reach out to. We obviously want to expand, and with that we will be able to copy some of the grassroots giving we’ve been able to do here in Louisville and extend our reach to other communities.

The LGBTQ+ community, the sexual assault awareness community, the trans community, the animal rescue community, human trafficking community, the veteran community, and many others have all been great to work with. It’s nice to be able to connect different types of people who may not otherwise meet. Many of these communities have goals that overlap, and it’s our job to not only give these communities the resources they need, but to connect them so there is an even bigger coalition to go forward and make changes the world needs, many of which aren’t that far out of reach or don’t require extreme resources.

Do you plan to bring your business to areas such as Appalachia, western Ky, etc.?

Yes. We want BLoFISH in as many places as possible, particularly in places that may not have the access to resources or support like many people here in Louisville have, and we know the power that one of our locations can have on a community. With that being said, we are limited in resources, and that’s where social media is amazing. We are able to reach people all over the country.

We recently did a podcast with a transgender veteran from Eastern Tennessee. He talked a lot about how he was surprised how many people were actually supportive of him when they found out about the transition, and while everyone was not supportive, many more than he thought were. So getting our message out in these places is so important to us, and until we can get the resources for physical locations we will do our best to reach out through social media.

What have some of the positive reactions been to your company? What have some of the negative reactions been?

The positive reactions have far overwhelmed the negative for sure. We’ve had people talk about how they wanted a place to feel welcomed, a place that is actually genuine, and some of the most emotional moments have taken place at our community events. The reaction to our products and fabrics have also been positive, which is important, because ultimately that’s the core and the reason we are able to give back so much. I would encourage people to check out our BLoFISH Speakeasy Podcast to hear some stories and see how we interact with the community.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-blofish-speakeasy/id1272938560?mt=2

As a company centered around social justice we’ve had our fair share of negative comments you might expect, but surprisingly we have had a little bit of push back from some people in the LBGTQ+ community saying our stuff isn’t gender neutral enough. Most of those people haven’t been in the store, but some are right we need to keep pushing boundaries. The key I have to balance is still making things accessible to everyone, while still being profitable on those products.  Being small is tough, and all the new designs are capital intensive, meaning we have to charge more for the products. Some of the same people complaining haven’t been in to test our more “fashion-oriented” designs so it makes it tough in this market to keep producing them. It’s still just my money so far, so we don’t have a multi-million dollar (or anywhere close) resource to tap in to. We’ve had a few people complain about price, but we try and stay in-line with the bigger brands like Nike, AE, and Gap. We will never be as cheap as somewhere like Aeropostale because of the quality of fabrics and products we have, but $46 for our joggers and $25 for hats is right in-line with the brands I mentioned. We have also had some people talk about our sizing system and how we display it, and it’s something we are looking into along with everything else, trying to be as accessible and inclusive as possible.

Why is gender neutral so important, and why does a white cis male care?

When I first started the company the idea of having a place where everyone could come in and buy what they wanted regardless of who they were seemed like a crazy idea (and to many still is today). I think gender neutral is the best way to describe what we are doing, but I’m not sure the adjective fits the way it should. I see what we are doing as label-less, we don’t care how you identify, we just think everyone should have the same opportunity to shop and wear awesome things without worrying about people looking down on them because they are in the wrong section or in the wrong class to buy things. In the past few years gender neutral has almost taken on a moniker of its own and people think it should look one way or another. I push against that, and think people should be able to buy and wear whatever they want, whether they identify as “gender neutral” or male or female or gender fluid, and that’s the perspective I design from.

As a white cis male I believe, and have since I can remember, a responsibility to step up and speak up for those who don’t have the same privileges as me. And that goes beyond being just a cis white male, into a cis white male who grew up with everything I needed. I didn’t have to struggle for a ride to baseball practice or worry about how I was going to get to school. I think we have a tendency to use labels as a way to build walls, and if everyone would look at each other in a sense of their privileges and access as opposed to their race and gender the world would be better for it. I will continue to stand up for all those who didn’t and don’t have the same opportunities I had, and am extremely lucky to have a platform and a business like BLoFISH to help spread that message.  

Who are YOU? What is Logan about?

I’m a crazy 31 year old person who is crazy enough to think it’s possible to create a new business model and flip the entire retail industry on its head while spreading a great message and making a REAL difference in the communities we are in.

What makes BLoFISH stand out among other retail companies in the nation?

You mean besides having better products, people, community, and business model? Not too much.

Queer, challenging and free

What does the word queer mean to you? How do you identify?

Queer means I am brave enough to try, it means freedom, it means the ability to imagine a world without racism, without sexism, without transphobia, and homophobia and brave enough to practice unlearning to see it come to past. It means that I brave enough to exist. It means I am Trans- GNC. I am divine. It means keep going, motivation. It’s a challenge especially the being part.

Why? Or why don’t you identify as anything at all?

I identity with as many things as possible, and at the same none at all. I am a Chris. I am specific Chris type of Chris to my peoples. I am Black Chris-Anansi-Ellagua-Eshu-Slaughter Young-Duke-Butler- Thomas-Wilson. Years of information in my DNA. And so much more. To be Chris the being is hard, because we in society are attached to everything.

We are obsessed with body parts.

I am too because I live in this society, I make mistakes, then I correct myself. I correct myself when I am not around my gender-non-conforming friends and practice their pronouns. I practice correcting my thoughts, when I think about them in the wrong pronoun.

Where are you originally from and explain how was it growing up/living in Kentucky?

I am original from Florida. I lived in the Tampa Bay Area. I don’t know, I cannot speak for Black Queer Kentucky, because I am not from Black queer Kentucky. I can only speak on my experience, as an activist and organizer for Black lives Matter. If you want information about Black Queer Kentucky find them, If want information about artists, activist, poet, Chris than hear I am. I am want to find Black Queer Kentucky and build relationships with them. That is all, and do my advocacy work.

What would you say to any person struggling to come into their own identity?

Shit accepting yourself is hard. Be gentle with yourself. It has taken me 28 years to accept who I am, and I am still accepting. It’s Challenging. Some days it easy, some days it’s just fucking hard.

I try to carry myself according to my principles.  My principles allow me to sleep at night.

Do you feel excluded from the “mainstream” queer community? Why or why not?

Yes, there’s obviously not Trans-GNC in mainstream media.

Where do you feel “at your best” (safe, happy, fabulous, comfortable, etc)?

I don’t think I ever feel at my best, I think I am always improving… that is purpose of human evolution in my opinion. I think if I accomplish the goals I set out to do I am winning. Winning in some area may not be my best in life though.

I am at my best when I am accepting that I am both light and dark. The dark parts of me, my skin color, the innocent part.. remember we humans started in darkness and we come out towards a light… in the middle.

I am feel best when darkness is understood, not as something always evil.

Safe isn’t a real word for me, safety is an allusion. Nothing is fucking safe. Secure for me is a better word. When I feel most secure sometimes is when I am speaking to my elders on the phone, they keep reassuring me that I am on right path. I am most secure in the arms of my lovers. My partners.

A lot of things make me happy, Ice cream, you can always bribe me with cream soda and pizza, and good head. I do like my nails to get done, etc. I am bit of a fem boy at times.


A poem to express me

I am that breeze that blows across your face, on hot summers day 

You know the one you was prayed to the Goddess for, 

I am the words that enter your mouth, when you think you have nothing left to say, 

I am resistance, been resisting since my creation, 

breed to be nothing more than what I am, 

And I am light, 

I am darkness, 

I am light wrapped in dark skinned, 

With a dash a of glitter star stuff, 

I am made from star dust, 

I am star shinning bright in the sky to give hope,

I am the rage that demands change, 

I am reason Masha P. Johnson throw the shot glass, 

I am the reason why, Harriet Tubman was a war strategist, why Langston wrote poems, 

And Zora spent time watching God, as she rained and blew her breath in Florida, 

That same breath that was, the breeze that ran across your face on those hot summer days, 

When you prayed for me, 

I am prayers answers, 

I am the reason why, our ancestor died, and were reborn, to died again

To rebel just to died, 

Because they knew fighting for freedom was worth dying for, 

I am their freedom, 

I am their broken bones put back together, 

I am their sorrow turned into joy, 

I am their unbroken hands, 

I am their unbroken spirit,

I am their culture reborn, 

I am free, from chains that enslaved them, 

I am their wildest dreams, walking, living, breathing, surviving, 

I am their hope, their star, their dreams, their sun, so naturally there I go rising, 

I am love, loved

I am Black joy, magic 

I am powerful,

I am living resistance, 

I am everything I need to be, in this moment,

I am enough,

I am water, constantly adapting to change 

I am worthy of all the love, I am trying to give away, 

I am free, 

I am me, 

I am Chris Black trans/gnc human being     

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