LGBTQ+ businesses across Michigan celebrate their pride

Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 7:18 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - As a month-long celebration of pride begins, some retailers are facing criticism for their support of the LGBTQ+ community, but local businesses that support those causes aren’t backing down.

Pride is stirring up controversy at a national level, with companies like Bud Light and Target facing boycotts over pride-themed merchandise and advertising campaigns, but LGBTQ+ businesses in Greater Lansing say it won’t sour their celebration.

“We don’t pay attention to any of that here. It has no bearing on how we treat the LGBTQ community,” said Old Town Commercial Association Executive Director Robert Doran-Brockway. “It has no bearing on our business owners.”

Doran-Brockway said Lansing’s Old Town has always been a neighborhood that supports the LGBTQ+ community, and it will once again be hosting a pride celebration on Saturday, June 17.

In recent months, some Lansing businesses faced threatening letters and vandalism in response to their support for the LGBTQ+ community. It isn’t stopping business owners like Kelsey Maccombs from showing their pride. Maccombs is adding a few extra pieces of pride merch to the Constellation Cat Cafe, but she said they won’t be hidden away at the end of June.

“This is always a queer business; we’re always here,” she said. “We always have pronoun pins. We don’t take that stuff down, even when we get harassed for it.”

Maccombs said her experience as an LGBTQ+ business owner in Lansing is a positive one, and backlash of any kind won’t change that. If people aren’t on board with the Constellation Cat Cafe message, she said they can move along.

“If you come to my cat cafe, and you’re offended that we have a pride flag, and a Black Lives Matter flag, then go somewhere else,” she said. “This is not for you. This is for us.”

Pride is an exciting time for staff at Old Town home decor shop Bradley’s HG. Like Maccombs, General Manager Lori Hurst said there’s no place for negativity during a month dedicated to acceptance.

“I hate that we live in a country where people feel like they need to persecute others for anything,” she said. “I’m proud to work here. I would be proud to work for an LGBT business.”

Some members of the LGBTQ+ community who spend their time, and money, in the Lansing area, believe more LGBTQ-friendly businesses make the community feel safer for people like them.

“A lot of artists are LGBTQ, I’m LGBTQ, so this place makes everyone feel love and welcome,” said Old Town shopper Liberty Yost. “Just all-around love around here.”

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