If you’ve made it here, you probably already know that we’re the QU – we are a trans-founded, queer-led platform for accessing the LGBTQ+ community. But who are we, really? What is our mission? What is our vision? And why are we here? Well, we’ll tell you.
How We Started
Kai Walsh (they/them) founded the Queer Umbrella in 2020 after their own experience being non-binary trans masculine and trying to find community. After graduating from the University of Denver, their mission has been to find and create LGBTQIA+ community locally and globally — whether that be through conversation, grassroots action, or supporting national legislation — and to ultimately promote social change that helps queer people feel seen in today’s world. They are the youngest member on the Queer Business Alliance Board of Directors, Founder and CEO of Kai Consulting, a digital marketing consulting agency committed to social entrepreneurship and change. When they’re not challenging the status quo, you can find them skiing and looking for excuses to strike up French conversation.
Kai saw a need within the Queer community to create an accessible space where folks could make genuine connections within the LGBTQ+ community. They reached out to some friends within the LGBTQ+ community with their idea, and we were all on board. What started as a team of 3-4 people quickly grew into the team it is now. Even if we didn’t know exactly what our role would be on the team when we started, there was, and is, a place for everyone, where we can bring our own strengths and ideas to the table.
Simply put, our mission is to make community accessible. We are using online spaces, in-person events, and partnerships to bridge the gap between queer self-expression and finding identity in a larger community. We undertake projects, build alliances, and create events that will benefit the LGBTQIA+ community while providing support and collaboration to foster and celebrate inclusivity, diversity, and equity for all genders, sexualities, races, abilities, age, religions, and other social identities.
In order to foster community and encourage a social transition, the QU draws upon the skills and experiences of our team members in such areas as business, communications, sustainability, education, history, design, and more. We hope to build community partnerships, allowing the QU to participate in several hands-on projects and events in order to bolster inclusivity and acceptance in all levels of society. We draw upon the support of social initiatives. We encourage our partners to be transparent and show visible CSR initiatives.
Our vision is to shift our internal journey and external realities from shame to pride, and from fear to curiosity. Whether we are self reflecting or discussing business initiatives, we can use this framework to question the status quo and reimagine our understanding of ourselves and our communities.
Even though acceptance of LGBTQIA folks is growing in the US, there’s still a lot of work to be done. We are creating an opportunity for individuals in the queer community to be seen, and space to exist. Through creating relationship-based connections, our organization is designed with humans at the core. Our events, collaborations, and platforms will further destigmatization of gender expression and queer body types, as well as reframe social perceptions of masculinity and feminity. We want cultural acceptance, beyond just the legislative levels. We’re fighting for individual growth and community change – we are fostering radical self-love within and for the LGBTQIA community.
Why Are We Here
We all have our individual reasons for being here, but we share the same common goal: to foster community and create safe, educated spaces. We sat down as a team to outline why we are here, and here are a few of the big reasons – maybe you can relate:
- Queer people need Queer community (virtual, and when safe, in-person)
- Now more than ever, with social isolation from the pandemic and the already limited queer or queer-affirming spaces, the LGBTQIA+ community is experiencing disproportionate negative health outcomes (from historic marginalization and lack of acceptance in society)
- 2020 was most fatal year for violence against trans women
- The queer community needs opportunities to meet, interact, share, and learn with other inclusive, accepting, like-minded individuals
- The LGBTQIA community could benefit from increasing visibility of queer people and building relationships with one another built on deeper understanding, acceptance, and respect.
- Queer people do not have an easy and low-pressure way to access the LGBTQIA community
- Gay bars are disappearing – but not everyone even wants to meet at a bar or have their social interactions revolve around drinking
- Limited social energy and capacity to engage with others (social anxiety, isolation, awkwardness, high-stakes, draining, collective trauma)
- Limited queer spaces (vs “queer-friendly” vs no explicit stance on queerness). We need to know when spaces are Queer or Queer-friendly, not just guess or assume.
- Queer people want to meet other queer people, but they don’t know how
- Dating apps are not always a viable option for Queer folks that are not single
- Not all Queer folks want to be on dating apps
- Need a place to meet friends, not just a romantic partner
- How can people meet LGBTQ friends online?
While the past decade, and especially the past two years has seen great gains for visibility and equality for the LGBTQ+ community, great disparities remain, and we consistently seeing large steps backwards, particularly for transgender women and transgender people of color. Poorer health and well-being persist, high rates of discrimination and violence continue to impact transgender people’s lives. Advocates, activists, and policymakers are taking steps towards greater protections, and we’re providing a space where people can get involved, take action, and have conversations surrounding how we can better the community and create social change.
How You Can Get Involved
If you can relate to our mission or vision, have ideas you want to share, or just want to learn more, reach out to us! You can fill out this contact form or connect with us on Instagram – our DMs are always open.
Looking to support us from the sidelines but aren’t looking to get involved at the moment? Here are some things you can do:
- Follow us on social
- Share our content
- Sign up for our newsletter
- Tell your friends about us
- Just reach out and say hi – we love hearing from you
While we don’t have all the answers right now, we’re hoping this roadmap will lead us in the right direction. We’re trying to answer the questions and problems we’ve outlined, like how people can meet LGBTQ+ friends online, how to put yourself out there as a part of the LGBTQ+ community, how to support the LGBTQ+ community as a business, and more. We hope our platform can be the answer to some of those questions, and along the way, we hope to figure out the rest.