Words by Tess Becker
Finding a community that makes you feel safe and connected is incredibly important, especially for queer people. After coming out as gay, trans, bi, or wherever you fall under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella, you’re at risk of losing friends and family.
A Pew Research study found that 2 in 5 queer people are rejected by friends or family in one way or another. This leads many queer people to create safe spaces where they can be themselves and around like-minded people.
One such community is offered by the social enterprise, pink House Alchemy, which was founded by Emily Lawson.
It was important to her to be able to have a business where she could fully be herself with the people she loved.
“I had to create a safe space for myself first and I think I've realized as I've grown older that that's really what it's always been about,” she tells Smiley News. “I have children, I needed to be in control of the narrative and the business and to be able to offer that space.”
For an income, her business produces farm-to-bottle simple syrups, bitters, and shrubs. But it also serves as a queer community hub.
“We put ourselves out there, we are loud, we are impactful,” Emily says. “We do a lot of youth organizing, and it's really important that people can see us as a beacon in the state of Arkansas and know that they can come here and just be here or reach out or participate and also be a success.”
Arkansas isn’t the most progressive state in the US and as a result, LGBTQ+ people have to work to carve out a space of their own - hence the community organizing. Through its work, pink House Alchemy has worked with local churches to host events, parades and organizations like the Trevor Project. They've sponsored a few curling leagues and will even be representing their region on a national platform.
“We're going to be representing the Ozarks at the on the National Mall at the Smithsonian at the end of June and into July, which is a huge, huge, huge thing,” Emily says.
At their core, they just want to show Arkansas in a good light while also trying to better its less accepting undercurrent.
“We face some political issues here and we're working all the time on that,” Emily says.
They have a whole host of events lined up for Pride Month and have even painted whole buildings pink in celebration.
“We participate in every single event that exists for private in Northwest Arkansas,” Emily says.
Emily takes her role in the community seriously because of her identity, wanting to fight for LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance while also selling her concoctions.
“I think that that's a battle that has been long fought and will continue to be long fought. It gives me a unique perspective on the world that I'm really grateful for and it's allowed me to be a better human,” she says.
At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.
Path Home. This organization helps families facing homelessness in Portland, Oregon. Find out more and support them here.
National Coalition for the Homeless. They aid homeless people around the country through their many branches. Support them here.
Hope South Florida. They help people affected by homelessness across the tri-county South Florida. Find out more.