As concepts of queer identities evolve, Alyza Enriquez, a social producer at VICE, says finding well-made products that meet the needs of the queer community can sometimes be a balancing act.
While many brands have by now embraced rainbow flags, Enriquez says they are looking beyond just an outward display of support. “It really is about seeing yourself within the brand,” and not feeling isolated by it, while also feeling good about the product or service it is offering, they say.
Enriquez has spent years researching and trying brands that explicitly cater to LGBTQ customers, and those that don’t market to queer consumers but happen to make products that work well for the community. They say recommendations for inclusive brands can be challenging to come by, outside of casual conversations with friends and other members of the community.
“A lot of the resources out there right now feel very catered to an antiquated idea of queerness, or an arbitrary, binary idea of like, This is lesbian, this is gay, rainbow flags everywhere,” Enriquez says. “I really appreciate those who came before us, but there’s … so much more to it now. How do we, kind of in this backwards way, queer the rest of the world?”
With their column, Queer Reviews, Enriquez says they want to create a resource and platform for others in the queer community who are seeking honest recommendations for quality products or experiences that “maybe aren’t necessarily queer, but fit us really well, have good ethos, and don't want to splash a rainbow flag on everything.” They look for brands that work well for an array of bodies and identities—regardless of how they’re typically marketed—and will often include reviews from others in the community as well.
Though it’s impossible for the recommendations of a select number of people to be encompassing of all perspectives, Enriquez says they hope their reviews can be done through a more representative lens. To kick off their column, Enriquez and four friends who are a part of the queer community share recommendations for last-minute gifts.
Body Language Shop
“This holiday season, I’ve mainly been buying plants for my loved ones, because it’s something I know about and something that I myself would love to receive,” Nik Muka, a bartender and plant enthusiast, says. “Combining the two would make for a really beautiful and thoughtful present. Also, supporting local queer artists feels like the best place to put one’s money.”
Muka says they first spotted the hanging baskets at Pokito in Williamsburg and found the baskets to be “soothing” to the touch.
Arsenal Pulp Press
“Arsenal Pulp Press is a Vancouver-based imprint that has almost singlehandedly defined the Canadian queer and trans literary scene by introducing us to important trans voices for this moment of cultural visibility,” Jules Gill-Peterson, a self-described “highly estrogenated” professor at the University of Pittsburgh, says. “As someone who teaches transgender studies—and finds my political energy and feels replenished in reading—you might get a copy of Kai Cheng Thom’s I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl’s Notes from the End of the World, or Casey Plett’s Little Fish, for someone in your life who feels similarly.”
S*an D. Henry-Smith
“Buying from queer creatives is one of the best ways to support our community and also treat yourself or your friends to something nice that you'll know was made thoughtfully,” Shakira Evans, a post coordinator for VICE’s marketing team, says. “This season, I’m purchasing a print from a good friend and popular queer artist, S*an D. Henry-Smith.”
Enriquez, who is also a photographer, says that shooting photos on film rather than a smartphone helps people slow down and think about what they’re taking a photo of. “Giving a cheap point-and-shoot film camera is a great gift. It won’t break the bank but feels like an intimate gift because you’re giving someone a tool with which to express themselves,” they say.
“As someone who likes to share with my friends creatively and has many queer friends, I am always interested in understanding how my friends see and encouraging them to archive their own existence,” they said. “It also feels like a collaborative process because my friends tend to take photos of their friends and it becomes a form of documenting the (queer) world around them.”
“While I’m not exactly ‘cheffing’ it out here, I’m big on hosting dinners [and] cooking for my friends,” G. Borbajo, a Brooklyn-based retail expert, says. “There’s something hugely comforting about making food for the people you hold space for and that look out for you—and usually the best experiences come from that.”
The 10-inch diameter, 2.7-inch depth, and 2.6-quart capacity pan, which features a non-stick ceramic-coating, offers an unusual size that suits a variety of cooking needs. The pan also comes with a nesting spatula and steamer basket for added functionality.
VICE Media may make a small commission on products linked in this article.