Still, operating a business takes some serious willpower, funding, and support. It’s unsurprising, then, to learn that 84% of queer-owned companies operate within queer-inclusive cities such as Sydney (where Barisic Sprem lives), Chicago, and even cities without queer-supportive laws, like New Orleans.
But what about those transgender and nonbinary people living and building brands in less accepting places? Such is the case for Azrael Gabriel, a creator, musician, and fashion designer who lives in Soldotna, Alaska.
“It’s just exhaustive,” Gabriel admits of transitioning openly as an entrepreneur in their small town. They’ve experienced firsthand how ostracizing transitioning can be—and the impact increases when also trying to run a business. “It’s hard to get other people to see that pain and suffering,” they say. They’ve been able to make it through—personally and professionally—because of their dedication to self-discovery.
"When you’re not cis and you’re not heterosexual, you do a lot of deep self-learning and introspection—to degrees that other people in society never have to." And the depth of self-reflection demanded for any gender non-conforming person surely mirrors the self-discipline required for launching a startup.
Now, Gabriel reflects their self-discovery in their work. This has allowed them to tap into the right audience, and translated into thriving business pursuits. “Hopefully,” they say, “people find enough of themselves [in my work] for them to either want it, or pay attention to something else I want to make.” So far, that’s been the case.