With the Akron Pride Festival coming up on August 27, we thought it would be helpful to put together a guide for businesses on how they can show up for the LGBTQ community in Akron. Read on for our suggestions:
Above: An Instagram post by Baxter's Bar that depicts a rainbow of cocktails. Baxter's recently introduced the idea of allowing festival food inside their establishment during early August's Taste of Italia.
1. Be welcoming
Pride, like many other street festivals, is a great opportunity to open your doors and celebrate with the community. Maybe you consider allowing festival food inside your establishment (as long as visitors purchase beverages or other snacks from you), or offering Pride-specific specials to customers. Above all, it’s a great time to be a little flexible, lean into the excitement, and show your support.
Above: An Instagram post from Sweet Mary's Bakery that shows sugar cookies decorated in support of the LGBTQ community, as well as a caption vocalizing support.
2. Publicly voice your support
Let the community know your business is welcoming to everyone. You never want to be merely performative, but visibly showing your support of the LGBTQ community tells customers you strive to be inclusive and can make individuals in the LGBTQ community feel welcome. So go ahead and fly your pride flag—and always back it up with meaningful business policies and procedures. Which leads us to...
Above: An Instagram post from Lepley & Co., an LGBTQ-owned business that prides itself on being a safe space for everyone.
3. Implement nondiscrimination policies
There should be zero tolerance for discrimination or harassment based on gender identity or sexual orientation, by and toward other employees and customers. As a downtown business owner, you have the opportunity to use your platform to offer support to the LGBTQ community and stand up for equality for all.
Above: An Instagram post from Rubber City Tattoo Invitational that exemplifies gender inclusivity.
4. Practice being gender inclusive & using gender-neutral language
The notion of a gender binary is so last century. It’s important to give our transgender and nonbinary friends the space and support to fully show up and be accepted as they are. On a related note:
Above: A snapshot from Lepley & Co.'s website that shows how staff can effortlessly share their pronouns to convey that others are welcome to share theirs, too.
5. Respect LGBTQ customers’ preferred names and pronouns
Something that can be helpful is to share your pronouns first, perhaps on a name tag or staff webpage, and to encourage your employees to do the same. This can make your customers feel more comfortable to share theirs. And as always, regarding respecting pronouns, just do it, and if you slip up, apologize and keep practicing until you get it right.