The Prairie Pride Coalition has launched an LGBTQIA+ friendly business directory aimed at guiding members of those communities to retail, service, health care, legal/financial, and worship resources.
The directory debuted last month at The Bistro, during a ceremony commemorating the one-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando.
PPC Director Dave Bentlin said most of the businesses were recruited through Facebook, although members of the LGBTQ+ community already had a pretty good idea of who should be in the guide. Bentlin said there was no push back and no one said they didn't want to be in the directory.
Forty-nine people died and 58 were wounded when a single gunman attacked the Pulse crowd.
Bentlin hailed the NIOTBN-supported directory as a strong signal that "we can no longer call Bloomington-Normal a conservative community and just leave it at that," he said.
"I think there are certain issues where this is a conservative community, but I believe on social issues that more and more this is becoming a progressive community, where people have a live and let live attitude and they want to see people treated fairly and justly," he said.
"I'm impressed everyday in most ways with Bloomington-Normal. The fact that both Mayors have introductory pieces in this directory, it's a firm position that a lot of elected officials might be afraid to make," said NIOTBN's Martin Ross, who helped design and edit the directory.
The directory is available at area businesses and organizations listed in the guide. Business are identified as gay-friendly with a rainbow window cling for the storefront door or window. Bentlin said he thinks the guide may demonstrate the community's buying power to the business owner.
The guide will also be available at the PPC's website.