News 12 highlights Hudson Valley businesses owned by and welcoming to LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month
June is Pride Month, and News 12 is highlighting a few Hudson Valley businesses owned by, or supportive of, the LGBTQ+ community.
Many New Yorkers know the beloved classic film, “Dirty Dancing,” takes place in Catskills.
A new resident is trying to give everyone this resort experience year-round.
Zelig Krymko-Shmuelovich spent every summer in the Catskills when he was growing up.
Decades later, he was able to fulfill a dream of owning the same place his mom, a Russian Jewish refugee, brought him to. He's opening it to everyone, particularly the LGBTQ+ community.
"This is a place they can come and just enjoy and feel super comfortable,” he says.
Over an hour away in Cortlandt, the Dance Conservatory is also a dream fulfilled for owner and director Justin Wingenroth.
He opened about five years ago, offering dance for everyone ages 2 and up after he and his husband moved to Peekskill.
"Applause is wonderful, but to see a kid succeed at something is by far greater,” Wingenroth says. "For any small business owner, it's not always an easy journey, but it's a passionate journey."
He says the LGBTQ+ community has come a long way, but sometimes doesn't qualify for as many grants, so any support they receive is important.
"We're all in this together. We are stronger together. Our diversity makes us better,” he says.
It's what Leah Guarino and Terri Dreisbach, both members of the LGBTQ+ community, found as they reinvented themselves during the pandemic to create vegan and gluten free bakery Sweet & Salty Queens.
"You're creating an inclusive economy and that's really important,” Guarino says.
It's not just the economy that's inclusive. During their more than two decades in the restaurant industry, Dreisbach, whose nonbinary, didn't always feel able to be secure in their identity in the kitchen. Now they're changing that for others not just by creating desserts more people can eat, but also by being out at markets, visible to anyone who may be struggling.
"I love what I do in the kitchen and I want to share that with people,” Dreisbach says.
Many of these businesses also say their communities have been a huge help in getting them where they are and it’s their support that helps them continue to keep Hudson Valley small businesses diverse.