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Queering the Candle Business One Scent at a Time

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Move over, house plants. Candles have become the latest trend in queer communities.

It seems recently that candle collecting -- or hoarding -- has become a new trend in queer circles. Articles have been written about the queerness of candle collecting and companies have come out with a queer-candle focus and even owned by queer-identifying entrepreneurs.

For instance, you have That Gay Guy Candle Co. combines jokes, satire and political statements with enjoyable scents. The company says it donates 5 percent of sales to a different LGBTQ+ rights group each month.

Stagedoor Candle Company launched in September 2020 by professional stage manager Caskey Hunsader. He previously worked on the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring The Rockettes, on a number of off-Broadway shows, and national tours including A Night With Janis Joplin, A Chorus Line, Tap Dogs, and Miss Saigon. The fragrances are based on classic Broadway favorites.

For Hunsader, his candles are a way to bring fans back to Broadway while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have the theater industry closed.

"It's been overwhelming to see the amazing response from so many people. We might not be quite ready to head into a Broadway theatre right now, but at least you can bring a little piece of the magic home, blast a cast recording and celebrate the magic of Broadway," Hunsader said in a release.

Stagedoor Candle Company has shipped hundreds of candles across the country and even internationally. There's even a special LGBTQ+ Pride collection of candles along with extra "goodies."

Hunsader will donate 10 percent of sales from the Pride collection to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

"And now with this Pride collection, I'm excited to expand our offerings to celebrate some of the great LGBTQ+ characters that so many of our customers love," he said.

While Hunsader has been in the candle-making business for almost a year, Queer Candle Co. has been going strong since 2017.

Founders and owners Ab and Al of Queer Candle Co. have been selling a variety of soy wax candles not only for profit but to help the LGBTQ+ community.

The owners of Queer Candle Co. say they make a candle that has a longer and cleaner burn. Incorporated into the candle is the scent itself. Ab and Al say on the company's website that's mostly herbs but could also include dehydrated fruits or salt rocks.

The queerness in their candles comes, they say, from their ownership of the business as queer people but also their "unique and unusual" products.

They add on their website they use part of their profits to "promote visibility and amplify the voices of members of our community, specifically the voices of trans women and non-binary people of color.

Ten percent of the company's monthly earnings go toward the Sylvia Rivera Law Project in New York. The nonprofit organization provides services and support to low-income youth who are trans, intersex, and non-binary.

"As a queer-owned business, it's important to us that the platform we build is reflective of our community," the owners say on their website.

The candle company has also made several lists for queer businesses to buy from, including in The New York Times and Hunker.

"We realize that as queer people we also carry a lot of privilege," Ab told The New York Times. "We are white, we have jobs, and so we wanted to put our money where our mouth is."

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