While we commemorate events like Black History Month, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and Pride Month in June, it is vital to recognize and celebrate these diverse communities beyond just a single month.
As we repeatedly embrace these events and share individual stories for each, we are often reminded of the significance of not merely confining our appreciation and support to a single month of festivities but instead envisioning the profound impact that could transpire for us all if we consistently recognized and celebrated these diverse communities throughout the entire year.
Charis Books and Moreis one of the oldest queer-owned bookstores in the United States.
"We really try to have books on our shelves that you can see yourself in and that reflect the breadth of our community," Sara Look, co-owner of Charis Bookstore, tells Scripps News.
The thousands of books on the shelves represent 45 years of supporting a changing community.
"Back when there were no queer books, when there were no books for trans kids, there were no books for anybody sort of questioning their identity. We have had them and sought them out," said Look.
And now, decades later, this shop is buzzing with events nearly every night.
"We do over 250 programs," Look said. "Now that we have been able to do virtual programs, that means that people can find our programs worldwide."
The mission here is to make sure the messages of inclusion and acceptance celebrated during Pride last past the month of June.
"We also celebrate Pride year-round because we are a queer and feminist bookstore. So, that means this is what we do all the time, year-round," said Look.
The support given to communities during one month of celebration will make an even greater impact if it’s given year-round; this is something Look hopes people remember when celebrating in June.
A 2023 study from Wells Fargo found that states with higher LGBTQ+ populations are associated with higher economic prosperity.
Look says she’s seen economic prosperity grow in recent years—specifically for LGBTQ+ bookstores—and she says the prosperity is about much more than money.
"About 15 years ago, there were over 120 feminist and queer bookstores in North America. And about ten years ago, there were maybe ten left," said Look. "And now those numbers have doubled, and a lot of those stores are opening up in small towns and small towns in the south, which means that people are really being able to find community."
Community that is needed, especially now.
According to U.S. Census data from 2021, the LGBTQ+ community is the fastest-growing minority community in the United States, catching up to Latinos, African Americans, and AAPI groups.
So, as this community grows, so should support for all its members, Look says.
It’s a blossoming she’s hoping to see grow the way she’s seen Pride grow from a small symbol to a way of life.
"30 years ago, when I first got to Charis, there was only one rainbow flag and only one rainbow sticker, and it was $0.50," said Look. "But it was such a way for people to find each other. And now I feel like it has become almost everywhere. And it more means like sometimes being an ally or it's a queer-friendly place, which also feels important. But that also does bring me joy to just see sort of like that queer people and queer welcoming people are everywhere."
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