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'Everywhere is Queer' provides interactive map of queer-owned businesses around the world

Interactive map of Queer owned businesses
Interactive map of Queer owned businesses

Editor's Note: This story originally aired on June 12, 2023.

When you travel, chances are you’re using maps to find your way around. Charlie Sprinkman grew up in the Milwaukee-area and currently calls Portland, Oregon home. He’s visited 41 of the 50 United States and he’d often search for queer businesses and other safe places wherever he was traveling.

Charlie Sprinman
Kate behind @thewildwithus
Charlie Sprinman

That sparked the idea to create an interactive map to help people find queer-owned businesses that everyone can use. In January of 2022 he launched Everywhere Is Queer, which now has over 9,1000 registered queer-owned businesses around the world.

Everywhere is Queer logo
Everywhere is Queer
Everywhere is Queer logo

For Sprinkman, his main motivation to create the map was to help others find community though these spaces — no matter where "local" was for them.

"Outside of the community aspect, as someone that grew up outside of Milwaukee, I wish I had a resource like this when I was a kid... As a closeted queer kid, or high school kid, I would've loved to have been able to go sit and just see queer people exist — working, navigating through the world. I didn't have that," he says.

The map is not limited to brick-and-mortar establishments. There are 14 different categories that a queer-owned business can fall into, such as online stores, real estate, restaurants, gyms and wellness, among others. After launching the platform, the map has steadily grown in large part through word-of-mouth advertising and social media activity.

"I find that people hear 'Everywhere Is Queer' and then they post it on their social media and it's their community and it keeps going from there, which is kind of how it all started. I mean, I posted on Instagram and then it just kept rolling," says Sprinkman.

Since starting Everywhere Is Queer, Sprinkman says he's received many positive messages from map users. Some have told him the map has helped them feel like they can safely travel to a new place, or its helped others find a gender affirming healthcare provider in their city that they didn't even know existed. A therapist said new clients have found them thanks to the map.

As new businesses reach out to Sprinkman to be registered on the map, he says he's always inspired by the passion, creativity, and inclusivity he sees from these companies and fellow entrepreneurs.

Sprinkman notes that as Everywhere Is Queer continues to grow, it will always aim to provide resources for everyone. "Everyone can be seen in the picture, not just queer people. Queer people and allies ... no matter who you are or what your body looks like, there's so many brands out there that are ready to see you for you, no matter who you are. And I think that's just like such a beautiful thing," he says.

Any queer owned business that is interested in being added to the map is encouraged to fill out the application form.As of Feb. 20, 2024, Everywhere Is Queer is also available as an app for IOS and Android phones.

Copyright 2023 WUWM 89.7 FM - Milwaukee's NPR

Audrey is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Rob is All Things Considered Host and Digital Producer.
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