Throughout Pride Month 2021 we’ll be amplifying the stories of our LGBTQ+ customers. Here, LGBTQ+ business owner, Mx Patrick Carr writes about setting up Brassworks Bicycle Co in Newcastle Upon Tyne – and shares their advice on how others can be allies.
I think my perspective of a non-binary bisexual person in a largely male industry is an interesting one. I often ‘pass’ as a straight cis man, which leads to lots of misgendering, much of it unintentional – “look at the man fixing the bikes” a parent will say.
But also I’m invited into conversations where transphobia and homophobia is rampant. It happened even today. All-male cyclists groups are often difficult spaces where ‘banter’ rules and ‘snowflakes’ are derided.
In my business I display a Pride flag sticker in the window, as a cue to those who notice that it’s a safer space than some bike shops.
"I’ll not judge you on your old rust bucket, or your £5,000 race bike. Please don’t judge me on my pronouns badge, or my nail polish."
I left a national cycling charity having really enjoyed a regional community development role focused on young people usually excluded from cycling.
I used my redundancy pay to cycle across Europe. That trip gave me the confidence and self-sufficiency to start my own business.
Cycling has boomed this year. I’m happy to be at the most sustainable end of the industry – doing repairs and maintenance from my own shop, rather than the ‘pile-em-high, sell-em-cheap’ end of the industry.
Leave your assumptions about a typical bike shop owner at the door. I do this job because I’m passionate about seeing people on bikes. All people. And all bikes. I’ll not judge you on your old rust bucket, or your £5,000 race bike. Please don’t judge me on my pronouns badge, or my nail polish.
Pride was a protest before it was a party. There are still people who need Pride to push for change. Look to those still marginalised, and those whose voices are missing from the queer narrative – trans people, non-monosexual people, aces, non-binary folk.
My sector needs to look more like the people it serves. Cycling is getting more diverse, but the industry lags behind.
Do it. You’re valuable, valid, interesting, and the world needs your ideas.
"You challenge the status quo just by existing. Imagine the change you can make in society by leading your own business."
The Artful Barber in Cullercoats is pretty cool – they challenge the highly gendered world of hair from within. And Ziggy’s in South Shields. I’m also a musician, and this venue really makes a difference. It’s somewhere I can let the mask slip, and just be me.
Check out Brassworks Bicycle Co on Instagram and remember to support LGBTQ+ small businesses – this month and every month of the year.
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