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LGBTQIA-Owned & Operated Businesses in Durham

Estimated Read Time:
3 min

Support these local LGBTQIA-owned businesses this month and the other eleven months of the year, too.

Designed by Gilbert Baker in 1978, the original Pride flag incorporated eight different colors to represent eight different aspects of the queer community. While the colors of the flag changed over time to incorporate more groups and to recognize the contributions of LGBTQIA people of color, the meaning of the rainbow flag is the same — it's a symbol of diversity, identity, and support for the LGBTQIA community. In Durham, we proudly wave and display our rainbow flags, cherish our queer community, and support our queer-owned businesses.

Our LGBTQIA-owned and operated businesses contribute something magical to our city, and we are excited to follow the magic and support them in real, tangible ways this month — and the other eleven months of the year, too. From hand-crafted meads with seasonal fruits to hand-crafted bouquets, Durham's queer community does it all. With input from our Instagram followers, here's a list of some favorite local LGBTQIA-owned businesses in Durham for you to visit.

If you know of an awesome LGBTQIA-owned business that should be included, please email us at blog@discoverdurham.com.

Arcana Bar & Lounge

This underground bar in downtown Durham supports local artists and musicians. Join them for cocktails, live performances, and frequent tarot readings. Not only do they offer delicious wines, craft beers, and modern cocktails, but they highlight the arcana (mysteries) of herbalism with a drink menu that uses herbs and an extensive collection of liqueurs.

Auroraflow

Auroraflow was founded by owners Castle Frame and Lauren McCullough to be an inclusive, safe space for the LGBTQIA and other marginalized communities to heal and relax. By making self-care and spa treatments like massage, facials, reiki and more approachable and accessible, the couple aims to help people in their communities live healthier, better lives.

Beer Tooth Taproom

Named after a song by Shelby Merchant, The Beer Tooth Taproom is a newly opened taproom in South Durham. They hope to "convert everyday beer drinkers into well-informed enthusiastic beer consumers through education and sensory experiences." With 36 taps of rotating craft beverages, they have something to quench every adult's thirst.

Everlou Coffee Co.

Relatively new to Durham's bustling coffee scene, Everlou has quickly become a safe space for all and a community hub. The oat milk-based shop on Mangum St. frequently hosts pop-ups for smaller, independently owned businesses and fundraisers for local causes. Check out their seasonal menus — with everything from lemon crisp lattes and sparkling strawberry acai lemonade to pumpkin pie and salted maple lattes — and follow their Instagram account to know which flavors are on the latest menu.

GRUB Durham

Craving delicious, Southern-inspired food? Head to an old gas station turned hip Southern eatery on Chapel Hill St. for some grub. With plenty of outdoor seating and a menu full of delicious options, GRUB Durham aims to cultivate community through food. They also love parties — their space is the perfect place to host private events in Durham. GRUB's sister restaurants under the same ownership group include Pipers in the Park and Nosh.

Honeygirl Meadery

For an experience of nature unlike any other, stop by Honeygirl Meadery for hand-crafted meads, wines made with honey, and ferment with added fruits, botanicals, and flowers. Looking for a wonderful way to spend an afternoon with friends? Visit their tasting room with expanded outdoor seating to enjoy a mead by the glass or a mead flight. All you mead is love!

Indulge Catering, LLC

Executive Chef Queen-Precious Jewel and Sous Chef Jay from Indulge Catering, LLC are taking healthy meal-making to a whole new level with their passion for cooking, love for good food, and signature Indulgent Essential Spices. Together, as business partners and a married couple, they have built a highly sought-after catering business, named 2023 Best of Durham Full Service Catering by Durham Magazine, by creating healthy and flavorful dishes – all while using fresh ingredients from local vendors.

Observable Universe

Observable Universe (OU) arrived quietly among a community of DIY art spaces just off North Roxboro in November 2021 when community organizer Heather Anne (fka Heather Cook) began cultivating a space for creatives and caregivers to explore the healing modalities of artistic practice in a safe, accessible environment. The storage-unit-turned-community-art-space hosts weekly Community Acupuncture Clinics, Queer Healing Circles, textile and printmaking workshops, monthly community collage nights and is available to rent for everything from rehearsals to rituals.

Art workshop at Observable Universe in Durham, NC

Observable Universe. Photo: Observable Universe / Discover Durham

perfect lovers

Another relative newcomer to the growing DIY arts community along N. Roxboro, perfect lovers is equal parts coffee shop, gallery and community event space. Check out the bright, intimate space for a quick beverage or follow the Instagram account to learn about upcoming events.

Pinhook

The Pinhook is an LGBTQIA-friendly and queer-owned bar and venue for music and creative events located in the heart of downtown Durham. They are "a safer space for queer and otherwise marginalized folks to express themselves and feel comfortable doing so." The House of Coxx never disappoints with drag performances, among many other affirming events held within the space on Main Street.

Pop Box Gallery

Pop Box Gallery brings zero-commission visual art exhibits and arts programming to unexpected places in an effort to connect local artists to resources, build a culture of arts patronage and raise the visibility of the Triangle arts community. Past pop-ups have appeared at Boxyard, Bright Black, perfect lovers and in Old East Durham. Check the Pop Box website and social media for current residencies.

Queeny's

When the pandemic and marital separation afforded her time for introspection, Michelle Vanderwalker, co-owner of Queeny's, began to acknowledge her bisexuality more directly, a shift that impacted the way she designed Queeny’s. Not only is the small bookshop in the back of the bar named “Rubyfruit” after the 1973 lesbian coming-of-age novel Rubyfruit Jungle and stocked the shelves with inclusive literature, but she also branded Queeny’s merchandise with rainbow-hued logos.

Rofhiwa Book Café

With a special focus on Black culture and literature, this café and bookstore hopes to enhance the sense of community and Black excellence that has long existed in the East Durham area. Stop by their space for good conversation, books by Black writers from across the globe, and a wide selection of coffee brews.

Soul Sanctuary

Soul Sanctuary is an event space and intentional community offering accessible housing, food security and supportive spaces for LGBTQIA Elders. Located northeast of downtown near Braggtown, the land is home to two farms working as a collective, Elijah's Farm and Kindred Micro Farms. The space also hosts community events and volunteer days.