“A lot of queer and trans individuals just feel like they don’t have space.” – @vaisfourlovers
“I better not say who I am. I better not be who I am.” – Iris Bainum-Houle
“All beings want love, safety, and belonging.” – @jerrycolonna
“This coffee shop is a desire to bring love, safety and belonging.” – @jerrycolonna
“I do the work I do because I’m trying to save myself from 38 year old Jerry.” – @jerrycolonna
“It was a month after you had started hormone therapy and it was like you had exhaled.” – Iris Bainum-Houle
“Queer people in heterosexual relationships get erased.” – Iris Bainum-Houle
Virginia is a serial entrepreneur who first got to know Jerry by attending a CEO bootcamp.
Iris is a gender fluid- queer person whose background is in the film industry who left that for work more inline with who she is as a person.
Virginia is a transgender female. She first met Jerry and Reboot at the bootcamp presenting male. Following bootcamp she underwent a period of intense self-work, the result of which was finally begin the process to transition to female. Hi Cuties is largely inspired by this work and transition.
Part of why Jerry does the work is to honor human beings showing up fully, wherever they are in their process.
Cuties was born out of Virginia’s need to connect with other trans and queer individual’s and her need to contribute to that space.
Cuties was a blend of Virginia building on her strengths working in coffee, raising money and starting things, and her desire to do work that contributed to her community and gave her a sense of fulfilling her purpose.
Virginia ties in that coffee shops are also community building and community activating. In addition, in queer communities daytime, alcohol free environments are in limited supply.
For Virginia and Iris, Hi Cuties is truly about creating more safe space for the queer community. This is something desperately needed by the community. A coffee shop is a more egalitarian welcoming space, than a medical environment or lgbtq center. It is open to all, with no requirement for attendance or belonging.
Queer people, and trans people in particular, are more likely to be victims of discrimination than any other group. Trans people in particular are more likely to be assaulted than any other group, especially queer and trans people of color. That’s 400 to 500% more likely.
Iris recalls growing up and understanding that the world was this way and being terrified that someone may find out about she and her partner, and that violence would be committed against them.
The coffee shop is a desire to bring love, safety and belonging to a community that often feels ostracized and unwelcome.
Virginia had always been told her strength was being authentic as possible. When she came to the bootcamp she identified that despite this feedback, she didn’t feel that she was living in authenticity.
She was a successful leader, but by not being fully herself, she felt that she was not fully authentic. And therefore was not the leader she was fully capable of becoming.
Iris identifies as genderfluid. She was at one point in a heterosexual relationship and states that “queer people in heterosexual relationships get erased.”
Following the attacks in Orlando, Iris shares that they worried about being targets of violence, but ultimately decided that it was more imperative than ever that they did open a safe space.