How support for the LGBTQIA+ community could involve more than just a “gay” section.
(Note: This story appears in the April 2023 issue of SE Magazine)
airvilla, an adult megastore throughout Florida, is one of the many across the country which has expanded their outreach to the LGBTQ+ community over the years. Purchasing Coordinator, Debra Peterson, says that Fairvilla has expanded their gender affirmation areas thanks especially to a team member named Lilly Beste, who just recently retired. Beste has a family member in the LGBTQIA+ community, and as Peterson notes, “She’s just one of the most approachable team members we’ve ever had in our company.”
That “approachable employee” informed Fairvilla that there were people looking to the store as a resource for products and education beyond heterosexual play. So Fairvilla started expanding its supply to incorporate this communication from their customer base through their team members.
“Now,” says Peterson proudly, “you’re going to find more binders and other kinds of gender affirmation items, such as specialty inserts and garments.”
Peterson shares that after they incorporated the customer’s request, there was overwhelming positive response to the change. “Once we started to implement products, [Beste] reached back out to me and said, ‘I just want you to know that I actually had somebody come in and and get physically emotional that we had a nice offering of what they needed and that it was presented so openly and honestly, without any kind of pretense.’”
Regarding how to make a store’s inventory more inclusive, Peterson says that most products don’t really need a specified gender.
“I think that the industry is doing a nice job,” she says. “It’s starting to remove that ‘his’ or ‘hers’ kind of feel to product, and I think it’s been beneficial.”
The brands that she’s seen over the year specifically supporting the effort are MDH, which handled a lot of their undergarments, gaffs, prosthesis and “things of that nature,” says Peterson. “And they’re great. But first, we were looking at New York Toy Collective, especially their half-binders, because in Florida we needed something a little cooler. Evolved has come out with Gender X, which is basically a generalized novelty product, leveling the playing field. Thank Me Now has done a great job as well of thinking outside the box. But I’d still say we’re on the cusp of all that. I think we’re going to see a lot more in the coming years.”
Peterson describes Fairvilla’s allyship and representation as “not just about putting retail spaces out for special events. It’s also trying to make sure that our resources are available to people as well as creating new partnerships that foster a better environment for not just our stores, but our communities as a whole.”
As an example of their outreach, in addition to stocking the store with products for the LGBTQIA+ community, Fairvilla has participated in the likes of Gay Days Expo.
“In fact, I’m in talks with them now,” shares Peterson. “I’ve also been working with Come Out with Pride. They have a prom that they’re doing in April, which we will support, as we did last year. It was wildly popular: people who perhaps went to prom not as their true selves have an opportunity for a do-over. We really love the joy surrounding this event.”
When asked what their plans are for June, Peterson responds that “it seems like Pride for us is year round.”
In testimony, there are other pride events in various months that Fairvilla continues to work with in Central Florida. As well as contributing to charitable organizations year-round, Fairvilla also hosts one or two “Third Thursday” meet and greets for Watermark, a local LGBTQ news source. The next one is in April, shares Peterson, and each one incorporates donations to a variety of local charities. In the past, Third Thursday has contributed to The Trevor Project, Zebra Coalition and others. This year, Peterson says that they’re looking at naming PFLAG Orlando as the beneficiary of their April Third Thursday.
Fairvilla also has an educational arm, Fairvilla University, which hosts a class in June focusing on LGBTQIA+ intimacy, such as how to wear a binder or packer comfortably, how hormones can affect you during transition and so much more.
“This is just another example of integrating LGBTQIA+ information into all aspects of our business,” says Peterson.
For more information, call (800)-365-5113, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit fairvilla.com.
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