Reposted from LinkedIn: May 18, 2023

Bakeries that are both gluten-free and vegan are not a new concept, but they are new to Iowa. When Marti Payseur was in the early stages of opening a brick-and-mortar location of her bakery, Thistle’s Summit, she was met with pushback. Some insisted that being gluten-free or vegan was a trend.

But that is not the only barrier in Payseur’s way. An integral part of her business is weaving in her queer identity. Payseur identifies as queer and uses she/her/hers pronouns.

“It’s a real priority of mine, being queer, that people can all literally come to the table and eat,” Payseur said. “I think that there’s a lot that can happen in that space that can create some magic and some connections, and you can’t be inclusive if people can’t actually eat.”

One of the things Payseur prioritizes is the use of queer language across all her platforms. Thistle’s Summit’s Instagram bio reads, “queer all year,” joined with the rainbow emoji. Their blog promises queer and food content. Displayed outside the store is a take on the Des Moines flag with rainbow pride colors, underneath their sidewalk sign reads “queer owned.”

The other 5%? Payseur described hateful language directed towards her and the business. And that pride flag outside? It has been ripped off the building. But Payseur said the good outweighs the bad.

“My favorite part about this is that I get to be a small part of what allows people of any age to know that they are loved and okay exactly as they are and not just tolerated but accepted.”

Not every queer business owner can incorporate their identity in their business like Payseur.

Payseur recognized why other business owners who are already marginalized might not want to be so loud. Queer people of color and trans business owners may have more to risk.

But according to Payseur, Instagram becomes that place where queer business owners can organize. Through social media, queer businesses can connect and send customers each other’s way.

And that is one advantage queer business owners have: community. Payseur thinks that there is an additional emotional attachment when it comes to supporting queer-owned businesses. When Payseur’s current downtown Des Moines location became available, she had to raise almost $15,000 overnight. Thistle’s Summit’s following raised close to $7,000.

Payseur said funding is another barrier that exists for queer people. Payseur remembered meetings with granters who were old white men who had no interest in funding her because of who she is.

For young queer people who want to follow Payseur’s footsteps and open their own businesses, she offered some words of advice.