Gay-owned businesses in Los Angeles must shop now
Viktor Pelayo has to thank the LA Gay Dodgeball League for becoming one of the city’s LGBTQIA small business owners. His company, Hunters, has been selling shirts, mugs, tote bags and more since 2014, all because Pelayo wanted to make sure his new teammates looked great while dodging bullets at high speed.
“I had started playing dodge ball to meet people, and my team needed a t-shirt. I’m a graphic designer by trade, so I volunteered to design the logo, ”he says. “I designed it in color, but they were like, ‘Oh, can we refuse it? Screen printing does not allow so many colors. ‘ I remember thinking, ‘We can have a computer in our pockets, but we can’t print more than three colors on a shirt?’ “
Realizing he could help create uniforms for more than his own gay dodgeball team, Pelayo bought a digital printer that could be used to create full-color t-shirts, and the rest is history. Best of all, aside from Huntees itself being an LGBTQIA-owned company, the Pelayo brand works with many other local queer artists, offering their designs for purchase on clothing and home goods. These days you can find Los Angeles based Huntees merch online and in LGBTQIA-owned stores across the country, from New York to Miami to Palm Springs.
Pelayo thinks it’s more than important to support other local queer businesses: “We’ve spent so much time as a community creating neighborhoods with cool bars and great restaurants and shops, places where we can. spending time and feeling safe. Then they become popular outside of our community, and if we stop supporting them, we eliminate ourselves from the areas we have built. Continuing this support, especially for small businesses trying to do so, helps us as a community to stay strong and united. “
But – and this is important – that doesn’t mean we should view Pride Month as the only time to support and spend money with LGBTQIA businesses in our cities. Brands run by and for the queer community and comprised of LGBTQIA people should be on our radar all year round.
“We’re not just open in June,” Pelayo says.
Thrillist therefore asked the founder of Huntees to bring his own favorite LGBTQIA retailers in the Los Angeles area, from other clothing brands to suppliers of adult toys, pet products and baked goods. This pride month, as so many companies are finally getting back to their basics after the pandemic, invest money in these worthwhile directions.