12 Queer Women & Nonbinary People In Wellness You Should Know About
Self-care is often perceived as a luxury reserved for the wealthy, when in reality it's a necessity — especially for marginalized communities. Wellness is about much more than what you can afford to buy: It's about creating safe, welcoming, and affirming spaces, and making self-care resources accessible. And when wellness is presented as something that's only accessible to the privileged, it can discourage marginalized people from taking up space in that field. But these 12 nonbinary people and queer women are revolutionizing the wellness field with their inclusive and accessible approaches to self-care — which is, well, what self-care should be.
As musician and all-around queen Lizzo explained in a piece for NBC News, "[Self-care] is so much deeper than what commercialization is going to try to turn it into. Self-care is really rooted in self-preservation, just like self-love is rooted in honesty."
With the basic human rights of those in the LGBTQ community under constant attack in the U.S. (and around the globe), something as simple as scrolling through social media or watching the news can be triggering. So, setting aside dedicated time to care for yourself, especially when you're queer, can make a huge difference when it comes to your health and wellness. In honor of Pride month, take some time to get to know these 12 LGBTQ folks in the wellness field who are changing the game, making wellness more accessible for the LGBTQ community and beyond.
1. Andrea Barrica, CEO And Founder, O.school
As a queer woman of color, Andrea Barrica saw a need to provide more comprehensive, inclusive, and accessible sex education, so she created O.school — a media platform that offers free resources about everything from how to give better oral sex, to shopping for vibrators. According to the site, "Barrica began building O.school to help people learn about their bodies, unlearn shame, and build more sexual confidence." If you have a question about sex or dating you never had answered in school, or felt too embarrassed to ask, there's a good chance Barrica and her team of educators have sought to destigmatize it in an article, or video on O.school.
2. Gloria Noto, Founder, NOTO Botanics
Spa-like relaxation has become a staple of luxurious self-care and wellness. However, many skincare and beauty brands are geared towards cis women, even though everyone can benefit from self-care. That's why Gloria Noto, a queer woman and artist, founded the wellness-focused beauty company, NOTO Botanics. "I would look at brands, and feel a huge disconnection between what they were selling, and who I and my friends were," Noto told them. in 2018. "I wanted to create a brand that was pure, with highest quality ingredients that also had branding that represented inclusivity towards all genders, races, body types, and backgrounds and also tie in my love for design and aesthetics."
3. Kim Goulbourne, Founder, You & Sundry
Kim Goulbourne is the designer and entrepreneur behind You & Sundry — a pop-up barbershop that opened in Brooklyn, New York, in 2018. To Goulbourne, the decision to open up shop was about so much more than a hair cut. As a queer woman of color herself, Goulbourne told Racked she saw the need to create a safe, inclusive, and affirming space for members of the LGBTQ community, especially because many salons, in her experience, tended to be extremely gendered.
According to You & Sundry's website, Gilbourne's vision was to build "first social parlor for the LGBTQ+ community" that was permanent. Now, that's finally happening: In fall 2019, You & Sundry will open a location that's here to stay, complete with a full salon, inclusive wellness and fitness classes, and even a lounge area where members can grab a bite to eat.
4. Sonalee Rashatwar, Founder, Radical Therapy Center
Sonalee Rashatwar, aka the Fat Sex Therapist on Instagram, is a social worker, community organizer, and public speaker. In addition to educating their large social media following, Rashatwar has spoken about fatphobia, mental health, and sexual wellness at schools, and colleges across the United States. They also recently co-founded their own therapy practice in Philadelphia, PA, called the Radical Therapy Center.
Whether challenging their followers online or IRL to unlearn white supremacy and fatphobia, or encouraging healing from systemic oppression, Rashatwar has made waves in the wellness field.
5. Amy Quichiz, Founder, Veggie Mijas
Amy Quichiz, a queer educator and writer, is the creator behind Veggie Mijas — a vegan collective for women, femmes, and non-binary people of color where the "main focus is sharing space, relearning ancestral practices through foods, [sharing] our plant-based recipes, and [providing] access to information our community needs."
Though Veggie Mijas began in New York City, the collective has grown extensively since Quichiz founded it. There are now independent chapters in over a dozen cities across the United States that organize their own community events, potlucks, yoga classes, visits to farm sanctuaries, workshops, and more. Veganism has long been thought of as a practice reserved for wealthy white people, but Quichiz has sought to shatter that myth, and to help communities of color achieve a plant-based lifestyle.
6. Alice Derock, CEO And Founder, Wet For Her
Though the sex toy industry has long been male-dominated, The New York Times reported in 2017 that women entrepreneurs having been seeking to disrupt this norm in recent years. Alice Derock originally paved the way over 10 years ago when she founded her sex toy company, Wet For Her. As the site explains, Derock quickly discovered that the sex toy industry lacked products geared towards women in the LGBTQ community. So, she began "designing a line of high-quality lesbian sex toys catering to queer women," and even received multiple industry awards for her designs. Now, a decade later, Wet For Her is still a pioneer when it comes to inclusive and innovative sex toy tech.
7. Nathalie Huerta, Founder, The Queer Gym
Fitness centers are not always the most welcoming spaces for the LGBTQ community, which is why Nathalie Huerta founded The Queer Gym in Oakland, CA. The "hella out and proud lesbian" told Bustle writer Brandi Neal in 2018 that she wanted to utilize her experience as a personal trainer to create a safe workout space for LGBTQ people and their allies. The gym requires team members go through "Queer 101 cultural-sensitivity training," and offers training sessions that are tailored towards gym members who are planning to go through gender affirming surgery. At The Queer Gym, physical wellness is not a one-size-fits-all program, and Huerta and her team truly care about the comfort of gym-goers.
8. Alli Simon, Yoga And Meditation Facilitator
Alli Simon is a yoga and meditation teacher based in Los Angeles, CA, who is one to watch out for. As a Black, queer femme, Simon weaves social justice and advocacy into her yoga and meditation classes, workshops, and other wellness teachings. "The basis of my work is to make yoga accessible and create safe spaces for communities of color, LGBTQI, and larger-body folks, while also not stripping it of its roots. I want to work with, and support others on their road toward personal and collective liberation," Simon told Yoga International in an interview for their "This Is What A Yogi Looks Like" campaign.
Simon regularly teaches at several gyms in the L.A. area, including the Everybody Gym — which was founded in part to create an inclusive and affirming workout space for those in the LGBTQ community. If you don't live in L.A., not to worry: This past March, Simon collaborated with Adidas and Wanderlust to create a three-part guided meditation series available for free on the sport brand's website, as well as Youtube. You can also keep up with Simon's latest work in wellness on Instagram.
9 and 10. Kat Bagley and Mary-Taylor Valand, Co-Founders, Venus Moon Ranch and Nectar Of The Goddess
The cannabis industry is still very much a male-dominated corner of the wellness field. In fact, as Forbes reported this past April, a survey conducted by the company Vangst revealed that only 17.6% of women polled held a "director" or "executive" role in cannabis companies. However, Kat Bagley and Mary-Taylor Valand run their entire hemp production business from "seed to product." In late 2017, the two women co-founded the Venus Moon Ranch Sanctuary, a hemp farm located in Hesperus, Colorado. They then also launched Nectar Of The Goddess, a line of specially-crafted, full spectrum hemp products.
"Nectar of the Goddess aims to emphasize the impact the hemp plant can have on the health of our bodies. and our planet," reads Nectar Of The Goddess' site. "Co-creating viable solutions with and for marginalized communities, especially our First Nations, has always been a part of our vision."
11. María Mónica Andia, MSW, Program Coordinator, The National Queer And Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN)
María Mónica Andia, MSW, is the Program Coordinator for the National Queer And Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN), an organization founded by clinical social worker, Erica Woodland, to help LGBTQ people of color connect with mental health practitioners, and to make mental health resources more accessible to those working for social justice organizations. In addition to their work with the NQTTCN, and as a youth educator, Andia is the co-creator of High Tea — a podcast where Andia and their partner, Deria Matthews, talk about mental health, wellness, pop culture, relationships, and everything in between.
12. Blair Imani, Founder And Executive Director, Equality For Her
Blair Imani is an author, mental health advocate, public speaker, and historian. Among her many accomplishments, she is the CEO and founder of Equality For Her — an organization that seeks to provide health education and resources to women and nonbinary folks. On their website, Equality For Her has free educational resources on a variety of health and wellness-related topics, including HIV/AIDS stigma, and how to identify abuse. The nonprofit regularly works alongside other LGBTQ organizations, such as GLAAD and StartOut.
Wellness can encompass so many things, but it doesn't have to be expensive or exclusive. These nonbinary people and queer women are leading the way in the field, and they're just getting started.