.Out in Force: Support Oakland Pride with mind, body and wallet

Pride is right around the corner in Oakland, and we’re ready to join in on this year’s virtual Pride on Sunday, Sept. 12, hosted by registered nonprofit Oakland Pride. 

Oakland Pride, formerly East Bay Pride, was founded in 2008 by City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, and others, with the goal of creating “a vibrant and viable organization worthy of the LGBTQ+ community in the East Bay,” specifically through the celebration of pride during the Oakland Pride parade and festival, which occurs every year on the Sunday after Labor Day weekend.

Due to pandemic-related safety concerns, Oakland Pride is virtual this year, a tough but necessary decision for the nonprofit to make. Nonetheless, Oakland Pride will be out in full force for its virtual pride celebration. Go to www.oaklandpride.org to digitally join the celebration.

To get ready to celebrate, shop the following queer-owned businesses that are making change in our community year-round:

1. Lion Dance Café

C.Y. Marie Chia founded Lion Dance Café, a plant-based Singaporean restaurant in Downtown Oakland, in 2020. The restaurant, which is open for walk-up ordering from 5–8:30pm, Wednesday through Saturday, is known for its menu that changes from week to week and for its “authentic, not traditional” cuisine.

Lion Dance Café has received rave reviews from publications including the San Francisco Chronicle, East Bay Nosh, Tablehopper, The Infatuation and local radio station KQED. According to the SF Chronicle, the cafe is said to have the “best sandwich in the Bay,” while Eater SF called the cafe’s sandwiches “iconic.”

When it comes to the cafe’s customers, however, its tofu nuggets and Maitake Goreng are known to hit the spot.

Lion Dance Café is located at 380 17th St., Oakland. Visit liondancecafe.com for more information.

2. Brown Sugar Botanicals 

A company that sells a variety of hemp-based products, Brown Sugar Botanicals was founded by Chris Wakefield and KaliMa Amilak as a way to “blend traditional herbal applications with high-quality hemp” while creating a business that values supply chain inclusivity. In fact, all of BSB’s plant material is “sourced from LGBTQ, BIPOC, or women-owned farms and gardens,” according to the company’s website.

The company values full transparency when it comes to every ingredient in the products it sells, and is known for its CBD and lavender herbal pre-rolls, CBD salves and CBD tinctures. All products are handcrafted in California and are cruelty-free, vegan and free of synthetic materials and preservatives.

Brown Sugar Botanicals is currently online-only and offers deliveries every Friday and Saturday within the Bay Area. Customers outside the Bay Area should check the company’s Order FAQs page to see if they’re within BSB’s range of shipping. 

3. Diving Swallow Tattoo

Founded in 2004 as a collective for women, non-binary and queer tattoo artists in Downtown Oakland, Diving Swallow Tattoo’s mission is to “align its values with its actions” and is known for its celebration of tattooing as expression of identity and personality.

The collective is co-owned by tattoo artists Cedre Csilliagi and Rocio Arteaga and is home to six resident artists, all with a variety of styles. Unlike many studios, Diving Swallow’s emphasis on expression and queerness allows for customers that may not otherwise feel comfortable being vulnerable enough to explore tattooing do so in a safe and accepting environment.

Diving Swallow is located at 264 14th St. in Oakland. Check out the shop’s Instagram for more info about their artists and range of styles.

4. Beauty Botanica

Colorist Olivia Bianco-Chaidez founded Beauty Botanica, a queer-owned-and-operated hair salon located on 15th St. in Oakland, specifically to support the hair needs of the queer community.

The shop offers premier hair services, including cut, color, extensions and much more, and takes pride in its ability to serve a wide range of clientele.

Beauty Botanica is located at 304 15th St. in Downtown Oakland. Appointments can be made in advance on the shop’s website.

5. Feelmore Adult 

Known for its variety of sexual wellness products, its customer service and its unique branding, Feelmore Adult is an adult store located on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland, with an additional location on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley.

Sexual wellness activist Nenna Joiner founded Feelmore’s Oakland location in 2011, after they started selling sex toys out of their car in 2009. The Berkeley store opened in early 2020, before the start of the pandemic.

Joiner, who uses their platform as a local shop owner to educate the community on sexual health, and advocates for local policy changes, is an award-winning entrepreneur that has been featured on radio station KQED and podcasts including Making it Work Radio. Additionally, former Oaklander adrienne maree brown interviewed Joiner about their experience opening Feelmore in a chapter of Pleasure Activism.

Feelmore’s Oakland store is located at 1703 Telegraph Ave. and its Berkeley location is at 2270 Shattuck Ave. Both shops are open from 11–5pm most days. Feelmore is also available for delivery via UberEats.

6. Super Juiced Oakland 

A juice bar founded in 2012 by two queer mamas of color from Oakland, Super Juiced opened to provide the community with access to nutritionally dense food and drinks that are meant to heal.

The shop started out with pop-ups in and around Lake Merritt, at the La Peña Cultural Center, and at various East Bay events. Now, Super Juiced has a brick-and-mortar location on 9th St. in Old Oakland, and collaborates with women-owned restaurants including Reem’s Kitchen and Mamacita’s Café.

Super Juiced prides itself on how far it has come, and continues to aspire to one day having multiple locations to further its dream of providing the community with nutritious food to enjoy on the go.

Located at ​​540 9th St., Oakland, Super Juiced is open for pickup Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10am to 3pm.

7. The Queer Gym 

Join Coach Nathalie Huerta for a virtual workout at The Queer Gym, the first gym in the nation dedicated towards providing the queer community with a safe and inclusive fitness space.

The gym, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, offers a full schedule of hour-long classes over Zoom—at the moment—including Yoga, Hella Abs and Arms, Oakland Booty and much more. Classes require no equipment and are open to up to 20 people. During non-pandemic times, the gym has a physical location on East 12th St. in Oakland, which features gender-neutral bathrooms, no mirrors and training plans specific to those preparing for gender-confirmation surgery.

The Queer Gym’s clientele has much to say about their experience in a space meant to provide safety, inclusivity and a sense of community. In an article for Men’s Health, Ryan Donahoo said, “Finding the right gym for yourself is so important. In the Queer Gym, I feel like no one is judging me. After the first month or two of classes four days a week, my body started to feel really light.”

In addition to fitness classes, The Queer Gym produces The Queer Gym Podcast, hosted by Coach Nat.

Virtual classes at The Queer Gym can be found online at www.thequeergym.com.

8. The Alchemy Collective 

A queer-worker owned cooperative on Alcatraz Avenue, The Alchemy Collective is a shop that sells, roasts and delivers its brand of coffee.

The collective is democratically run by its members, with the goal of freeing itself from the “exploitative grasp of capitalism in order to gain personal & financial sovereignty,” according to The Alchemy Collective’s website.

In the shop, The Alchemy Collective sells prepared coffees and teas, ranging from a “quick cup” to flat whites and mochas. Additionally, the shop sells its coffee beans, which are sustainably sourced from family-owned farms and cooperatives.

The Alchemy Collective is open Tuesdays from 7am to 5pm, and Wednesdays and Sundays from 7am to 3pm, and is located at 1741 Alcatraz Ave. in Berkeley.

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