MINNEAPOLIS — On Thursday, Dec. 15 and Friday, Dec. 16 you can support local makers and The Aliveness Project while checking off your holiday shopping list. LUSH Lounge & Theater is hosting its first annual Queer Holiday Market from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
John Thompson, the creator and curator of the market and a business owner at Scout Handsome Gifts and Apparel, said he's excited to provide a platform for queer business owners to network with each other.
"As a queer-owned business, it can kind of feel like you’re the only one or you’re an island," Thompson said.
He also says this will be an opportunity for the Twin Cities at large to show up for the LGBTQ community.
"I think it is important to be visible during these times and know what we have to offer and who we are... to be ourselves and be unapologetically authentic and put ourselves out there to help people see that we’re not scary or anything to be concerned about," Thompson said. "We’re part of the community too."
Machin McHargue, woodworker and owner of M&M Custom Goods, will be one of the makers at the market. She crafts heirloom items made of high-quality materials, such as charcuterie boards and children's rattles. McHargue said she's looking forward to meeting friends.
"I really want to be part of this community," McHargue said. "My wife and I moved here about a year ago, so we're not really connected to the community because we're parents. So this is an excellent opportunity to network."
Nevaeh McClinton will be at the market offering products from her beauty line, Hannah's Paradise. From custom soaps to body butters, McClinton says she creates each product with her whole heart. The line is named after her daughter Hannah who passed away in 2019.
"She was an absolute diva, times ten, and she loved bath time," McClinton said. "All the love that I can't give to her because she's not here physically, I put into these products."
Other vendors include Homebody MN, a trans-owned candle company, Curlworks, which offers funky gift items, LasRanas Jewelry, which is inspired by astrology and tarot and designer Christopher Straub, who will have leather bags, plush toys and children's books.
Each creator will donate a portion of their proceeds to the housing initiatives through The Aliveness Project, a wellness center that offers free HIV tests to the public.
Shannon McGraw, the housing locator for Aliveness, said because the queer community is disproportionately affected by HIV, it's extra meaningful and this market will be helping meet the need.
"This is going to be a great opportunity to start some of these conversations and engage with the community," McGraw said.
At the market, there will also be a Christmas tree with ornaments bearing lists of household items. Attendees can shop for the items and drop them off at Aliveness, and they'll be given directly to community members entering permanent housing through the nonprofit's efforts.
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