queer

A Year In Review for Queer Chocolatier

Happy Birthday, Queer Chocolatier! 

Queer Chocolatier shares a birthday with my late grandmother who would be 88 years old today. I launched the business on this day to honor the person responsible for molding my early chocolate experiences. Today, one year after opening up and professionally working with chocolate, I am light years from where I thought I would be. 

And I couldn't be happier. Or more exhausted. Or more nervous. Or more determined. 

Basically, I'm more of everything. I'm turned to all the way to eleven.

As we approach the opening of the Queer Chocolatier Chocolate House in the next few of weeks, I am taking a few moments to reflect upon this past year of all the growth and shaping of Queer Chocolatier. 

Enjoy this video review of our first year of being #outandopenforbusiness
 



Cheri and I knew it would be important to start a business that we weren't finding as customers. We appreciate good quality products made my passionate folx, but we also wanted to become a business that would take those key components--quality and passion--and add them to our political mindset and be unapologetically transparent to those who engage with us.

We started as an online business and added farmers' markets as ways to meet people and sell our products as well as our vision. It was an incredibly endearing process to make new friends and to be bare about who we are and what we stand for. I used to study farmers' markets as a sociologist so being a vendor at one was a complement to another chapter in my life. But being a scrappy young business the first few weeks led to a quick spurt of growth by obtaining a retail store front, despite still renting a kitchen and having lots of office supplies still at home.

Having a retail space and weekly markets allowed me to add more truffle flavors to my offerings. In addition to my every day flavors, I incorporated monthly and seasonal flavors as well, along with the occasional fun flavors to play with. We started to receive a bit of press, first with the Ball State Daily News and, just before Christmas, Cheri and I were featured in the Wall St. Journal. What an extraordinary wrap up to the end of 2017!

We also started offering Guided Chocolate Tasting Events in our cozy retail space. We wanted to make the experience of eating chocolate to be intentional, enlightening, fun, and more thoroughly delicious. During these events, we were even more transparent about where our chocolate comes from, our philosophy regarding business, and we were able to deepen relationships with folx in and around Muncie. There are doubtlessly individuals with more expertise in chocolate than I have, but I am endlessly curious and passionate about chocolate and I want to share that with anyone who might be in arm's reach or shouting distance.

As such, my wife pushed me beyond my limitations and encouraged me to leap to the next branch in our business evolution: finding a brick and mortar space to build out my very own kitchen. A Chocolate House to call our own and to make everyone's. With a Chocolate House, we could expand our chocolate offerings, spread more knowledge about chocolate, and hold space for those who just want to be welcomed as they are. 

I loved the idea but I wasn't sure I had the confidence to accomplish this on my own. I was scared. I don't have any experience in opening a Very Serious Business and I don't have much in the way of mentors or all-important resources. But my wife believed in me enough to keep pushing and came up with our financing idea of opening our business up to microinvestors. We had eleven separate $1,000 investments plus an angel investor join us in our journey.

Excuses and feet-dragging were replaced with YouTube and asking questions and getting comfortable with being ignorant in a lot of areas of regulation, construction, and business-to-business relationships. I decided to be open about not knowing things and trusting professionals who are paid to know the things I don't. Granted, this leaves a person vulnerable, and I was and am vulnerable, but in most cases I ended up being helped by trustworthy individuals. Even when I run into challenges from other folks, it isn't necessarily because they aren't trustworthy, but maybe they are in their own journey of transparency and are vulnerable to being seen as not knowledgeable. It is frustrating, but I have grown in my ability to be persistent. I am proud to say we will be out and open for business within a few weeks. 

Going into my second year of business is not really much different than when I was about to launch. I still feel like I'm in over my head but I love chocolate and don't want to stop working with it. I also love people and want to cook for them and share with them my passion for food. I hope those things about myself never change. But this upcoming second year will be marvelous and I am eager to discover the ways in which I will be surprised in how Queer Chocolatier grows.

Small Business, LGBTQIA

Expanding my business has introduced me to Shadow Morgan

I feel like a walking shadow version of myself.

I think folx generally like to fancy themselves as good people, good friends, and good partners. Include me in that camp. But, deep down, we all know the few times we could have all been a better friend to someone (letting a call go to voicemail instead of answering) or a better person (I don't pick up every piece of litter I see, but I sure as hell take back my shopping cart to the space it belongs because I'm not a monster).

What I mean by Shadow Morgan, though, is I feel something different and shifted in addition to not feeling like a good friend or wife or person.

  • My energy is shifted. I feel less extroverted than what I usually feel.
  • My home-cooking is different and uninspired, mostly because of a lack of appetite.
  • My interest in anything new, unless it is complete escapism, has waned.

But I don't let calls go to voicemail anymore. Mostly because a lot of those calls have rightfully just stopped coming through.

Is it worth it?

I have this very question in my head that works like a nagging snooze alarm. It's nagging in the sense that it comes around way too often, but irregularly so. Usually at times when I am feeling particularly low.

Funny how I don't often ask this of myself when I have good moments and days.

It gets increasingly difficult to remember and focus on those good, solid wins and it isn't fair to make my wife the Keeper of Good Memories when I am the one who needs to have them in my back pocket. It also isn't fair for me to look externally for the answer of "Is it worth it?" when I am actually living out what I know is a dream.

The honest answer is a begrudging yes. Yes, sigh, it is worth it. Gosh!

What to do with Shadow Morgan?

I figure Shadow Morgan is not just a phase, and isn't just a contextual phenomenon that is tied to the expansion of the business. Yes, I'm sure stress is manifesting itself in some ways. I've certainly become grayer, but I actually like that (and it helps that Cheri likes it, too). But I think the truth might just be a bit beyond the stress of this stage of the business.

I think I may actually have depressive symptoms. 

And, purely speaking for myself as I do not care to speak for anyone else who experiences depression, I kinda think coming to this conclusion is a good and healthy step for me (although a confirmation rather than my amateur diagnosis would be wiser). I can explore more clearly my moods and thoughts as they come to me and I can practice a bit more reflection as to how I come to feel the way I do.

Do I intend to go on any steps to medicate myself or pursue therapy or eat nothing but turmeric for a month? 

Maybe.

I don't care for the mockery of those who rely on medicine to cope with their day-to-day lives. I also don't particularly care for the mockery of those who follow acolytes who peddle snake oil. 

I care for people. 

I know that lots of folx are hurting and experience that hurt in a myriad of ways. I know that a lot of people seek refuge in whatever way they can. To that end, I know that there are others who seek to take advantage of those who are seeking help.

Those manipulative assholes can go jump in a lake.

Depression in the LGBTQIA2+ community

Our community experiences significant mental health issues at a greater rate than the general population. Much of our mental health stems from society's treatment of queer and/or trans* folx. Yes, we can get married now, but that was never the main issue for the diverse queer and/or trans* community as much as it was for cis gay men. We still face stigma and discrimination, both on the micro and macro levels (see Oklahoma's new bill signed for "faith-based" agencies to discriminate against LGBTQIA2+ couples from adoption).

Major depression is one of the two mental health issues queer and/or trans* folx experience, along with generalized anxiety disorder. Which means it shouldn't really be too much of a stretch for me to come to understand that I may be experiencing depression that is just manifesting at a time that is also coincidentally stressful.

  • I've isolated myself more than I would care to, but I don't have the spoons for a lot of company either.
  • I find confirmation of my failures rather than my successes.
  • My overall self-esteem is lower than what I would call usual for myself (although, to confess, it was quite high to start).

But, ultimately, coming to see this for what it is will allow me to make adjustments in my life, to communicate these adjustments, and to better manage my own expectations of myself and others.

Shadow Morgan adds another dimension to Morgan, it doesn't replace me altogether, nor is it something to "cure" or "push through" to "get over." That language is fairly violent. It can cause a lot of self-harm to someone who hears those words as a constant message. 

Our happiness/comfortable-driven society can go jump in a lake, too, for all I care because we need to address mental health with the dignity and respect it deserves.

New expectations, but same end goal: Open a damn fabulous chocolate house

Opening the Queer Chocolatier Chocolate House is still worth it. I need to say it more emphatically, in all honesty. And the reasons are countless in number. One of them is pertaining to this post: I care for the well-being of myself and for our queer and/or trans* family. 

I'm no doctor, although on my way to becoming an entirely different sort of doctor (which I totally and thankfully bailed on), I learned over and over again the importance of communities, spaces, and places and our personal connections to them. Queer Chocolatier is more than just tasty, ethical chocolate. We are queer and we demand to have a space carved out for queer and/or trans* folx and for those who stand in solidarity with us. 

  • We will post access to resources, both in our chocolate house and on our website for the days you just can't quite leave your own home.
  • We will create a library for folx to hear stories that more closely reflect their own.
  • We will have Homo Decor pieces to warm your own spaces.
  • We will provide ways of connecting folx so that bonds can be created and strengthened.
  • And we will keep making damn fine chocolate along the way.

Reminding myself of the things Cheri and I plan to do with our chocolate house, and reminding myself that no one else is building what we are building, is a way for me to peek my head above the fog for a moment and keep in mind that, yes, this is all worth it. 

And even Shadow Morgan agrees. Albeit, begrudgingly. I'm okay with that.

LGBTQIA, Small Business

Cake, Christ, Court, and Country: A Series of Short, Open Letters by a Queer Chocolatier

Dear Charlie and Dave,

Congratulations on your wedding! What a beautiful occasion to celebrate your love with the most special human on earth! Your love must be incredibly enduring to hold your bond so fast, especially with such events that have lingered since your nuptials. 

Within the last two years, my wife and I got married as well! We went very cheap, simple, and small for our ceremony, but we intend to have a grander celebration in the coming years. We both love cake. And I will speak for both of us (and the larger LGBTQIA2+ community) and say "thank you" for helping us weed out bakers that we won't need to patron!

You see, we all deserve the best. I'm guessing that you visited Masterpiece Cakeshop under the impression that it was of high-quality. I'm sorry that instead of getting high-quality you got high court.

To me, as a queer woman who owns a small business, transparency has been paramount to my operations. My customers know who I am to the core. They know they will also receive an outstanding product. I truly wish that transparency was how everyone and every business operated, but I'm shouting at the wind with such a wish. Maybe my transparency model will catch on through example rather than wish.

But, to the point, no one deserves to be discriminated against, especially during a time of celebration and a moment that will imprint itself on your memory until twilight.  Your case not only represents many queer and/or trans* folk, but it represents a large percentage of the frayed and worn social fabric of our nation. At least the patches that are not square, white, male, cisgendered, heterosexual, and claim Christianity as their faith regardless of their misinterpretations of Christ's words and deeds. As Lourdes Rivera writes in her piece

"The Court cannot accept those arguments in the LGBT context without undermining hard-won gains in equality for women and other groups and inviting a regression to the dark parts of our past we thought we’d left behind: a world of segregated lunch counters, and women confined to the home."

This is all a rehashing of our value in society through the foggy lens of religion.

We are valuable. We are lovable. 

Remain courageous and remain unapologetically in love, Charlie and Dave.

In solidarity,
Morgan Roddy, Queer Chocolatier


Dear Jack,

I'm sure these are trying times for you as well. You hold a deeply-held belief and feel as though you are only defending your rights to creatively express yourself and maintain your religious freedom.

We actually have a few things in common. We are both passionate about our culinary creations. We are both white and cisgendered. We are both businesspersons, albeit you have certainly been in business much longer than I. And, on the face of your argument, I can imagine that I would not want to be compelled into doing something I do not believe.

But there is more than just the face of your argument. Its core, its roots, its bones are not only discriminatory but it is just really, really bad business, to the point that over 30 large businesses filed an amicus brief in support of the case's respondents. Not that you're without powerful, if not controversial, support of your own. You may contend that, even though the majority of America and the majority of small business owners find discrimination against queer folks to be utterly distasteful, we are in the wrong because we have been swayed while you remain resolute and firm in your beliefs.  

Fine. I'm not a Christian and, as a self-identified comfortable agnostic, I can say that I am not guided by a religion. You've got me there.

But I am often moved by the words and deeds of Christ and I am especially taken by those who preach the gospel through actions instead of words.

The message of Christ was neighborly love.

And I am thoroughly befuddled why a cakemaker--someone who makes a product that is nearly universally loved--who claims to be a follower of Christ can perform some monumentally unloving acts. Not only are you performing un-love, you and those defending your case in the highest court in the land are making a significant effort to codify your unloving, discriminatory business practices.

I know that my queer self will not discriminate in my business practices. I would even prepare a box of truffles for you, despite your "sincerely-held beliefs" that my marriage is an abomination. I consider myself lucky that you would simply not choose to do business with me since it is clear from the outset who I am and what my business is about.

It is about solidarity, fierce and unapologetic love, and chocolate. 

Jack, I hope your collective efforts prove to be a modern-day parallel of Sisyphus. 

Unapologetically yours,
Morgan Roddy, Queer Chocolatier


Dear Tony, 

(Wait, can I call you "Tony" or should I just stick with Justice Kennedy? I'm sorry for my fluster. You're the first Justice I've written, despite my deep and abiding love of RBG.)

You've got quite the hot seat on the bench! All eyes will be on you and your position on the Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Folks like me are not exactly comfortable with this arrangement, but we are hopeful all the same.

We watched you give Hobby Lobby--and conservative businesses and the religious right--a victory in taking away women's access to birth control through employer-sponsored health insurance coverage. But, a great many of us also celebrated your position in Obergefell: 

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

You tempest of the Court! How you pitch us to and fro!

All feelings aside (or as many as will be patient enough to sit for a brief minute without jumping back into the fray), you have quite the case in front of you. The questions of how corporations govern themselves, how government and businesses and individual customers engage with one another, and the friction between free speech (or religion or expression) and anti-discrimination are not easy ones to mull over, but you fully begin that process today.

I begrudgingly recognize the personhood of corporations that our nation seems to hold as true. That seems to be of a particular import in this case as Jack Phillips contends mightily that it is his beliefs that are under assault, his expression that is being coerced by the State of Colorado.

Is that the same as Masterpiece Cakeshop holding those positions? Can the corporate veil simultaneously protect Phillips while he also seeks to shed it? Can he possibly begin to, and please forgive me Justice Kennedy, have his cake and eat it, too?

I will be waiting anxiously until the coming year until you indulge us with your views on this case. As a businessperson, a queer person, and as an American. 

Respectfully yours,
Morgan Roddy, Queer Chocolatier


Dear America,

We are in a fit. And I am exhausted by it.

If you think queer men don't deserve a wedding cake, that they deserve to be discriminated against, that religion is above law regardless of the notion that religion can and is used by some as a thin veil to display power rather than a platform to display love, then how can we move on as a nation?

Perhaps we need to have a sit down chat over some chocolate to figure this out. Together. 

We must do better,
Morgan Roddy, Queer Chocolatier

LGBTQIA

Getting Ready for the Holigays!

Getting Ready for the Holigays!

It's the middle of November and I am now contractually obligated as a small business owner to talk about the holidays.

Or, holigays!

This time of year is a pressure cooker of emotions inside a frenzy of motion wrapped underneath a pretty paper wrapping and bow. Memories, both pleasant and decidedly not, flood us wave after wave in unrelenting fashion until we've turned the corner to January.

And this is for all of us.

Not just those of us in the LGBTQIA2+ community.

Our wedding announcement in December 2015.

Our wedding announcement in December 2015.

Holidays Since Marriage

For me, since marriage, holidays have meant something different. Throughout my 20s and most of my 30s, I'd spent holidays with my aunt or my family of choice (friends who I'd adopted, you see). I'd throw a big meal around Thanksgiving (before "Friendsgiving" as a term had legs) and I'd crash someone's home for Christmas.

No muss, no fuss.

But now I have in-laws and my idea of family has grown. I have a mother-in-law who loves to bake, a father-in-law who can make nearly anything by his hands, sisters-in-law who have brought me into the fold more quickly than I ever expected (to the point where I often can't keep up!), a delightfully charming 9-year-old nephew, and a beautiful bouncing baby niece who will be 6 months old on my and Cheri's second anniversary.

I love each of them. But our queerness has been the rainbow elephant in the room during our family get togethers.

I didn't have to deal with that in my 20s and 30s because I didn't have holidays with my own parents, having never known my father and having no relationship with my mother after my grandparents passed away. 

The very definition of privilege. I never had shouting matches or conflict or violence or eviction from my family over my sexuality or gender identity.

My wife's parents lean hard conservative in their social views, but I honestly believe they love me as an individual. That doesn't necessarily translate to a love of having me as a daughter-in-law by way of being married to their lesbian daughter, however. But, I'm still sheltered by my own privilege in that this is not something that I have to battle directly as a) it is Cheri's parents who have to come to their own reckoning and b) I've aged into adulthood and independence and have no threat of economic or emotional relationships being withdrawn or turning toxic.

In a week, though, we are northbound for Wisconsin for Thanksgiving and we are set for the holigays to commence, in their full tension-filled and passive-aggressive glory!

It's always warm and welcoming at Queer Chocolatier!

It's always warm and welcoming at Queer Chocolatier!

Queer Chocolatier Celebrates YOU during the Holigays!

I know that many other folx have more challenging times during this part of the year and I want to let you know that I am here for you.

I am here for the moments that memories overwhelm or nerves take hold.

I am here for the times you feel you have to steel yourself for going back into battle over dinner trimmings.

I am here for you when you don't feel validated in who you are or who you love by the people who you were surrounded by during your early years.

I am here for you.

Queer Chocolatier sells crafted chocolate truffles, yes. But we also stand in solidarity with those who need neighbors and friends and family but may be lacking during the moments we are most vulnerable. If you need a moment to chat, near or far, send me a message or visit our shop. The only darkness I want you to experience during these last couple of months of 2017 is the darkness of my chocolate confections.

23549983_10155203208438753_1379144958662209334_o.jpg

Show Someone That You Love Them Unapologetically

If you aren't queer and/or trans* (or even if you are), and you know someone who is and has a rough time during the holidays, let them know you love them. Reach out to those around you who may not have a great experience with going home to visit family or doesn't go home at all because of what has happened in the past.

This is the time of year that allies can actually do allyship work and not simply label themselves as allies.

Some things that you can do include making sure you hold yourself accountable to any microaggressions you might accidentally commit. During the holidays, the following microaggressions can be among the most common and the most painful:

  • If you misgender your friend, work through it to do better but don't turn the attention back to yourself on how hard it is to remember pronouns or names.
  • Stand up when someone deadnames a friend or relative. Let that person know that such an act is harmful and violent. 
  • Never, under any circumstances, out someone in front of others, including the family or friends of that individual. Your friend may trust you with that knowledge but may not be in a place in their life to be out fully and that is okay.

Let me help you in showing your friendship and love by providing gifts that can affirm or comfort those you adore. Consider a piece of art from our line of Homo Decor for their home or any one of our selection of truffles, in Classic or Vegan.

Let's all do a better job of taking care of each other during the holigays!

Love,
Morgan

 

 

LGBTQIA

Queer Finances: Should Queers Have Their Own Credit Union?

QUEER FINANCES: SHOULD QUEERS HAVE THEIR OWN CREDIT UNION?

Queer folk can face discrimination at banking institutions. Is it time for queers to have their own credit union?

Queer folk can face discrimination at banking institutions. Is it time for queers to have their own credit union?

If you subscribe to my monthly newsletter, you'll notice that I include a section that I adorably call "News Bites": a curated list of news and media pieces related to chocolate and/or the queer/trans* community. November's issue of the Cocoa Communiqué contained a piece from Forbes (though the original interview was a podcast episode from Queer Money(TM)) and it asked the question: "Should the queer community have its own credit union?"

Dozens of internal responses engaged immediately in a mental traffic jam, desperately trying to nudge their way past another to get out first.

Here's why:

  1. I'm queer and I have some thoughts about how I would like my personal and business finances handled.
  2. I used to be a stockbroker and have a certain amount of financial and economic professional knowledge.
  3. I have an advanced degree in sociology and tend to think about systemic issues, such as the economy and LGBTQIA2+ communities.

Hence, this blog post.

Do I think the queer community should have a credit union of its own? Yes. 

But.

The original interview between Phillip Endicott (who is attempting to launch a queer credit union: Equality Credit Union) and John and David, the hosts of Queer Money (TM), contained some references to data that were interesting and, on the face, very convincing:

  • “In 29 states, you can get married and be denied a home loan because of who you are, how you live and who you love,”
  • Endicott struggles with the notion that LGBTQ people are “considered wealthy and well-off when, in fact, we’re struggling financially.” He continues, “We’ve been adversely affected by all the years of fighting for equality and acceptance.”
  • Endicott says, “We’ve been fighting the HIV/AIDS crisis. We’ve been fighting for marriage equality and equality in general. We’ve been fighting for our rights for so many years.

However, I think there were elements of homogenizing the homos to make a point.

It is true that there have long been battles that the queer community has waged, but some of those battles have been labeled as "LGBTQ issues" instead of what they might have been more accurately described as "cis white gay men" issues. And that's problematic.

Demographics of Wealth and Homeownership

Discrimination of any sort is wrong, particularly when it leads to a barrier preventing financial betterment. In Endicott's reference of discrimination at the bank when applying for a home loan, the only folks who might be shocked or find themselves seeking pearls to clutch are white folks.

People of color (PoC) have long been denied home ownership, which has led to a staggering generational wealth discrepancy between white households and non-white households.

In 2009, a representative survey of American households revealed that the median wealth of white families was $113,149 compared with $6,325 for Latino families and $5,677 for black
families.
— Shapiro, Meschede, and Osoro. 2013. IASP Research and Policy Brief.

These figures are before any consideration is taken regarding sexual orientation, but we can cautiously extrapolate this to mean PoC who identify as LGBTQIA2+ are multiply marginalized and increasingly less likely to enter into homeownership due to discrimination and socioeconomic barriers and, thus, lose out on the biggest wealth generator in our economy. 

Discrimination was pervasive throughout the entire sample, yet the combination of anti-transgender bias and persistent, structural racism was especially devastating. People of color in general fare worse than white participants across the board, with African-American transgender respondents faring worse than all others in many areas examined
— Grant, Jaime M., Lisa A. Mottet, Justin Tanis, Jack Harrison, Jody L. Herman, and Mara Keisling. Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. Washington: National Center for Transgender Equality and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 2011.

Trans* folks were surveyed and found to have a homeownership rate of less than half of the general population (32% compared to 67%).

To layer on an additional challenge that is far too frequently ignored, our aging LGBTQIA2+ folx are being crushed by our nation's economic machinations. According to a 2014 report by SAGE, our queer/trans* elders are facing "adverse differential treatment against older same-sex couples seeking housing in senior living facilities" and "this report attests to the role that discrimination plays in worsening this housing instability among LGBT elders."

Housing instability affects millions of LGBT older people around the country, many of whom face severe financial hardship, challenges with employment and unequal treatment under the law.
— SAGE and ERC Documents Discrimination against Older Same-Sex Couples. 2014.

Sexual orientation and gender identity minorities face housing and banking discrimination, but PoC and the elderly are suffering disproportionately when compared with younger and white cis gay males.

As a small favor, I will begrudgingly leave out the rural/urban divide that can also be layered onto this verbal model I'm outlaying! You're welcome!

Queer Financial Struggles

It is also true that the queer community struggles with the duality of being stereotyped as having gobs of money to spend while also not actually having a strong financial situation or outlook. But this might be simply because of lumping folx together who have vastly different experiences and levels of privilege.

According to Experian's 2012 survey, married or partnered gay men have the best financial partnership out of any possible couplings. The average annual household income for such pairings is approximately $116k while married or partnered heterosexual men household earned nearly $22k less, on average.

When it comes to individual income, gay and straight men may earn roughly the same amount, but married or partnered gay men personally take home nearly $8,000 more, on average, than their straight counterparts.
— Experian. 2012. "Understanding Your Customer."

In a clumsy attempt to compare the venerable apples-to-apples, Experian's survey also referenced that lesbians--single or married/partnered--earn more than straight women, but all this does is muddy the waters surrounding the wage gap between men and women, regardless of sexual orientation. 

This is not to be dismissive of the financial challenges faced by straight, unmarried women but rather point out that the notion of a cis white gay man saying "we're struggling financially" while sitting atop the financial mountain falls flat.

Yay! Queers can get married! Now what? wait, where'd you go, gay guys???

When trans* PoC are being murdered at terrifying rates, with 2017 already surpassing the number of such murders in the previous year, planning nuptials isn't at the forefront of their minds for causes worthy of fighting. Whereas, cis white gay men have the majority of the same socioeconomic and political privileges as their straight counterparts, the main thing they lacked in terms of institutional access was in the ability to legally marry their partners. Thus, the cause célèbre of same-sex marriage was born.

This is not to say that other queer/trans* folx didn't benefit from being able to marry whomever they unapologetically loved, but consider that there has been a deafening silence from cis white gay men on a myriad of social justice and civil rights issues after they won their SCOTUS ruling. The amount of capital (social and financial) gay men initially had to invest in the cause of same-sex marriage had a tremendous return; but where are they now?

The backlash against queer/trans* being given a modicum of equality has led to a more focused attack on our community, particularly the trans* community, with a rash of so-called bathroom bills and preventative measures against enacting the passage of hate crime bills.

Gay cis white men need to use their access and privilege to help build a safer and more just environment for the most marginalized in our community before trying to win over our support for a new cause célèbre of wanting a credit union.

Do I think queers should have a credit union for our community? Yes. Credit unions serve communities and we are a community that has unique financial conditions. But a queer credit union does not need to be led by cis gay white men and it does not need to come into existence through the exploitation of the marginalized socio-economic and political contexts of those in the  LGBTQIA2+ community who do not share in such privileges.

LGBTQIA

October 11 is National Coming Out Day: What Does That Even Mean?

National Coming Out Day is Wednesday, October 11, 2017

What does National Coming Out Day mean?

What does National Coming Out Day mean?

Queer Chocolatier is #outandopenforbusiness and my wife and I are out as queer ciswomen (I am bisexual and Cheri identifies as a lesbian). But we both had extremely different experiences in coming out. And everyone's experience is extremely unique to them as identities are complex and context is important. Coming out as queer is not the same as coming out as trans* is not the same as coming out gender non-conforming is not the same as a POC coming out as any one of those identities or orientations. In many cases, it is a privilege to come out that many cannot afford due to being multiply marginalized.

This is all to say the following if you identify as LGBTQIA2+:

  • You don't owe anyone any explanation. Your life and lived experiences are your own and yours to control.
  • You should keep your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health at the forefront of any decision regarding the hows, whys, whos, whens, and wheres of coming out. If you don't feel safe, do not succumb to any sort of pressure to come out to the people or in the environments that you do not feel safe.
  • You are not less than anyone if you do not come out in a public sort of way.
  • You are not better than others if you do come out.
  • You do not have to come out to everyone in your life all at once in order to have "officially come out."
  • You may feel like you need approval by those to whom you come out, but your truth does not change in a manner that is contingent upon their approval (you are who you are regardless).
  • And if you never "officially come out," it doesn't make you any less queer. (Here is a wonderful article that will elaborate on that further.)

However, I do want to acknowledge the importance of visibility. With visibility, there is a space or a community that provides safety. There are role models from which others may learn. There are opportunities to rally around folx with similar experiences. I am in my mid (or late...) thirties and I learn from people who are out and who are older and younger than me every day.

Community inspires me like little else can.

We chose to make our business visible as a way to carve out space. If you want to share your story, visit with people who may have some shared perspectives and experiences, or if you just want a quiet place and moment to let the weight of the world come off your shoulders for a spell, please know that Cheri and I are here for you. 

We see you.

We care about you.

Tomorrow, please feel free to come over to our shop. Come out for yourself or come out for chocolate. Just know that we're happy to see you and be seen by you.

 

Small Business Shenanigan

Small Business Shenanigans: A Month of Chocolate-y Blur!

One Month Down!

Being a small business owner requires an extraordinary amount of reflection, at least from my perspective. So, here's a brief check-in and rundown of what's happened and what I've learned so far since launching Queer Chocolatier!

1. I believe in myself more than I ever imagined!

I am tremendously confident in selling my chocolates, talking about the quality of the ingredients, discussing my production of the truffles, and opening up to folx of all sorts who come to have conversations with me about Queer Chocolatier. Believing in myself doesn't lead to arrogance; I stay in my lane, learn from people every day, and connect in meaningful ways that genuinely impact me. 

2. Learning from people about what they want is the best source for ideas!

People know what they want. I don't have to come up with every idea from a blank slate. Occasionally, my ideas do resonate with others and that's wonderful! But, more often than not, I take the ideas and suggestions of others and run with it, newly inspired! Some of these ideas include:

Speaking of which...

3. I am opening a retail space for Queer Chocolatier!!

Whoa! I know! It's a big step! But this is such an exciting step. Sometimes it makes me picture how a kitten on a wooden floor will have its rear legs outrun its front legs. I am that kitten. I am a frenzy of motion.

I'll sleep when I'm sleepy. 

That's how the saying goes, right?

Anyway, there will be a Grand Opening event on Thursday, October 5th at our new space, 405 S. Walnut St. #204 in Muncie! You should totally be there! My wife and I are big fans of the Netflix series Stranger Things and I'll have Maple Eggo Waffle Truffles to sell for this one night only! For how much do you ask? Eleven dollars for a box of 4. Eleven.

the-stranger-things-actress-behind-eleven-doesnt-love-eating-tons-of-eggo-waffles.jpg

4. I was profiled in a Ball State Daily News series featuring local businesses!

Some of my experiences I've had in the last month of being open for business are things that I expected would happen if I put some muscle and effort into it. Other things, though, have come so easy and smoothly that it really does feel like luck. My wife and I were recently interviewed for the Ball State Daily News Muncie Origins series and I am thrilled with the article! I appreciate that it was evident what my goals for the business are because the interviewer, Kirsten, did a lovely job of highlighting the overall values of Queer Chocolatier. We are as much about community as we are about chocolate. We are unapologetic. We are passionate about what we create. And we love Muncie! 

5. I created an Etsy storefront to feature Homo Decor and my truffles!

If people are shopping for holiday gifts and they haven't already heard of Queer Chocolatier, they are probably not going to make it to my site. But, if they are shopping on Etsy for their loved ones, then they may make it across my storefront and be able to purchase my truffles as well as my Homo Decor offerings!

What's Homo Decor?

A peek in the studio!

A peek in the studio!

Homo Decor will consist of art pieces to warm the spaces of those who are not as frequently represented in off-the-shelf home decor items. Everyone and all consentual relationships should be celebrated!

Etsy will serve as another marketplace for my truffles and art pieces can reach more folx who are making purchases for themselves and those they love unapologetically! Homo Decor pieces will be up within a week for both my storefront on Queer Chocolatier and Etsy.

6. I really need to up my game to be ready for my second month and beyond!

Everything that has transpired so far has been wonderful. I've worked hard, I've been supported, I've had a stroke or three of luck. But I am ready to reach the next level of business and community. 

I'm one month down, but I'm just getting started!

LGBTQIA, Small Business

#HeyMuncie!: Queer Chocolatier Goes to Market!

#OutAndOpenForBusiness

Queer Chocolatier centers on the the tangible product of quality chocolate truffles but it also rests on the foundation of an identity that claims space. In some ways, this is nerve-wracking. But it also is refreshing and rewarding!

I am a queer, married ciswoman and I'm going to make you delicious chocolates.

And I am equally proud of my cocoa alchemy as I am of my queer identity.

However, I am acutely aware that not everyone will share my pride. We live and move in an increasingly balkanized society that pushes people to choose sides. By and large I support choosing sides. Furthermore, I believe in the idea of claiming your space first; if I am anchored and grounded in where I stand, others can use me as a landmark and decide whether to stand alongside me or not.

This past weekend of vending at two local farmers' markets was my first time staking my claim in a physical space, outside of the internet, and putting myself out there as the Queer Chocolatier.

And Muncie warmly welcomed me! 

The indomitable Moth Danner runs the Muncie Makers Market and was beyond welcoming me to her roster of vendors!

The indomitable Moth Danner runs the Muncie Makers Market and was beyond welcoming me to her roster of vendors!

It was just one weekend, but I have the sense that Queer Chocolatier taking space meant something to folx. In some cases, people simply wanted good chocolate and I'm not mad! I love talking to people about my chocolate, how I make it, where I buy my source chocolate, how I've come up with some flavors (including flavors inspired by my wife).

This is the price she pays for being my inspiration.

This is the price she pays for being my inspiration.

In other cases, folx came to my booth to talk about identity and business and community. Some came under my canopy to say "Thank you!" or "This is such a cool concept!" 

That matters. 

It matters because queer lives matter. Trans* lives matter. Solidarity matters.

Know that if you are queer, trans*, gender non-conforming, genderqueer or genderfluid, of if you fall anywhere in the spectrum of marginalized sexual and/or gender identity, I stand in solidarity with you. If you're in East Central Indiana, come visit me at Minnetrista's Farmers' Market or at the Muncie Makers' Market and indulge in truffles!

And be unapologetic about taking up the space that you do!