This year, the beginning of Pride Month has seen less in-person engagement as LGBTQ+ festivities pivot online. Local stores, which usually host a megathon of pride-themed events, have also made the online shift, with a virtual version Pride Month being the new way to support the LGBTQ+ community.
But supporting the local community is more than just hosting virtual events. It’s supporting the local LGBTQ+community every day of the year. Of course, there are some local Hoboken + Jersey City businesses that do so and go above and beyond each of the 365 days — read how businesses in Hoboken and Jersey City reformed who they are and what they do to be inclusive of LGBTQ+ identities.
Word Bookstore | 123 Newark Avenue, Jersey City
Word is a local bookstore that features rainbow and transgender flags hanging in the storefront windows 24/7. In the past few years, Word has ramped up its commitment to diversity and inclusion by putting on prominent display books about people with underrepresented identities, sending newsletters that advocate for social change, and creating an inclusive community through identity-focused programs. What’s most impressive about Word is that the bookstore has teen and children’s books on relevant topics, including Eda Kaben’s Pink Is For Boys and Rebecca Stead’s The List of Things That Will Not Change. One of Word’s most popular events, however, is its Drag Queen Story Hour, hosted by Harmonica Sunbeam which provides literary and creative programs for kids and teens.
Spesh | 932 Washington Street, Hoboken
Spesh, established in 2017, is a genderless barbershop and salon in uptown Hoboken. Steven Torres, the owner of Spesh, shared that the LGBTQ+-friendly shop made the transition to genderless services in honor of pride. “We feel gender should not define anyone, whether it’s hair, fashion, lifestyle, or culture,” he said in a post on Instagram. These LGTBQ+-friendly alternatives to traditional barbershops cut a person’s hair to suit their face shape and personal style rather than following traditional societal values as to what is masculine or feminine. “We owe it to our community to make Hoboken a place where everyone feels welcome,” Steven said.
Six26 | 128 Christopher Columbus Drive, Jersey City
Six26 is a local spot for brunch, lunch, dinner, and drinks that is the sister restaurant to The Ashford. Owner Kenneth Caulfield, however, is a straight man who founded his business after feeling inspired by the struggles of the LGBTQ+community. Caulfield learned how the LGBTQ+ community can become excluded from particular types of local businesses, so he opened Six26 to create a space for all identities — a place where anyone could feel welcomed, accepted, and included. Six26’s name is a reference to June 26th, 2015, the day in which the Supreme Court ruled same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage. Throughout the week, Six26 hosts events, when in-person events can happen, that celebrate LGBTQ+ culture, such as viewings of RuPaul’s Drag Race and brunches led by drag queens.
Hidden Grounds | 700 Garden Street, Hoboken + 148 1st Street Jersey City
Hidden Grounds is a local coffee staple that serves bagels, sandwiches, and coffee, with whole, skim, soy, almond, and oat milk options. In the past few years, however, Hidden Grounds has also positioned itself as a clear supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. The coffee shop has hired LGBTQ+ employees, attended local causes, and draped a vibrant rainbow flag in its window as a public demonstration of the alliance. At Hidden Grounds, conversations about diversity and inclusion happen every day, said Spoorthi Kumar, co-founder, and chief executive of Hidden Grounds. “We are always asking ourselves, ‘Are we doing enough? Can we do more? How can we do more?’” Kumar said putting a focus on diversity started with hiring. “When Hidden Grounds first began, a lot of the hiring process was based on what we needed, but in the past three to four years, we’ve thought deeper about who we are hiring, and why,” she said.
Sw3at Sauna | 172 Newark Ave 3rd Floor, Jersey City + 79 Hudson Street, Suite 104, Hoboken
Sw3at Sauna is an infrared sauna in downtown Jersey City. Owned by a married LGBTQ+ couple, Sw3at Sauna is not only supporting the local community but is a part of it. Alyza Brevard-Rodriguez, the owner of Sw3at, said, “It is a common past practice not to label your business as LGBTQ+ owned or put that information out publicly in fear of potential clients refusing to patronize, but that’s not a business practice we agree with. We openly support the queer community by being a representation of it and speaking to the importance of LGBTQ+ owned businesses.” Sw3at makes monetary contributions to LGBTQ+ organizations, attends parades/festivals, and is labeled on Yelp as LGBTQ+ owned. In celebration of Pride month, Sw3at offers discounts all month and even changed its water labels to feature rainbows. “We really just want to do our part in supporting our community and making Hudson County an inclusive place to raise our daughter,” Alyza said.
Nimbus Dance Works |165 Newark Avenue, Jersey City
Nimbus Dance Works is a dance company in Jersey City. It has live performances, a competitive school, and a touring group. Since it opened, Nimbus has been at the intersection of high-level dance, community engagement, and diverse audiences. The dance company performs work that comments on social and political issues, such as the Lynchtown, Memo, and Bloodlines. The programming also includes work on LGBTQ+ topics and themes. Nimbus has been involved in annual Hudson County pride festivities, featuring its “Offline Pride” event. In 2019, Nimbus hosted a vogue ball, an event in LGBTQ+ subculture in which people “walk” in different categories for trophies, prizes, and respect.
Tea NJ | 262 Newark Avenue, Jersey City
Tea NJ is a tea shop that offers bubble tea, almond chai, ginger soy lattes, matcha lattes, and soy lavender lattes, among much more. The shop is vegan and vegetarian-friendly. However, Tea NJ’s connection to the LGBTQ+ community is Elizabeth Schedl, aka chief operating officer of Hudson Pride, a local LGBTQ+ organization right here in Hudson County.
Anchor Therapy |80 River Street, Suite 306, Hoboken
Anchor Therapy is a mental health therapy practice in downtown Hoboken that specializes in LGBTQ+ care. Currently offering telehealth appointments, Anchor Therapy is also running an LGBTQ+ summer teen group with plans to continue that into the fall. The team offers assistance to LGBTQ+ clients of all ages.
UNJUMBOLD | 257 1st Street, Hoboken
This LGBTQ-owned business makes it a point to support the community by sourcing from LGBTQ-owned and Black-owned businesses. John and Michael stock everything from artwork, home furnishings, custom bedding, kitchenware, flatware, candles, skincare, and more – as well as sell brands such as Amante Marketplace, Beaba, Enchanted Home, Kana Goods, and Skin Gourmet. Organizational services were the original concept for the business, and how UNJUMBOLD got its name. It has since evolved into what it is today, a one-stop shop for all your home and lifestyle needs.
The Hive | 1000 Park Avenue, Hoboken
The Hive is a go-to for coffee, cookies, wellness products, and more, but it’s a proud ally of the LGBTQ+ community. “We’ve both been longtime allies of the LGBTQ+ community and continue to be committed to equality for all by educating ourselves and our children, standing up to hatred and prejudiced mindsets, and our acceptance of all,” the owners said. The Hive has chosen to support @lgbtcenternyc through sales of its most popular treat, The Hive’s Confetti Cookie. 100% of all sales will go toward this organization. When it comes to The Hive’s own mission, “We are here for you when you need the love and support, no matter who you are or who you love or what you’re going through. You can forever sip with u,” said the owners.