LGBTQ entrepreneur faces conundrum between Bay Area’s tolerance, cost of living


For some, living in the Bay Area is a choice.  For others, it is felt as more of a necessity – but one that is proving more and more difficult to maintain with the skyrocketing cost of living.

In light of the recent violence in Orlando against the LGBTQ community, the discussion has re-emerged about what it means for a region to be a safe place to both live and work.

Most would agree Oakland and the rest of the Bay Area remain a bastion of tolerance and acceptance in an age where gay rights are still being fought for. Anti-LGBTQ legislation has been passed in a number of states, including North Carolina and Mississippi. Laws that were recently passed in those states undermine equal protection acts (such as Title IX) and allow for discrimination in both housing and providing other services to those in the LGBTQ community. Currently, the fight for allowing access to public restrooms that align with a transgender person’s gender identity is a nationwide conversation.

In the video above, Rachel Hospodar explains how living in Oakland as a queer entrepreneur and designer lets her have a market, a support network and romantic partners.

But even with a supportive culture, the cost of living remains high.

In San Francisco, more that 50 percent of homes are priced at over one million dollars. Gentrification and the booming tech sector are pushing out artists to the East Bay, where housing costs in Oakland are also increasing – all part of a regional “housing crisis.”

With the rising cost of living in the Bay Area and Hospodar struggling to make ends meet, moving somewhere else remains on her mind — if she can find somewhere else that is diverse, with queer women and a market to sell her unique, upcycled clothing. Her story explores the importance of creating a culture where all facets of living are supported, from the acceptance of a wide diversity of gender expressions to the very basic need to have affordable housing for all.