‘A step backwards.’ Community rallies around LGBTQ vendor denied spot in Magnolia market
Although she identifies as a queer Latina, small business owner Carlie Alaniz has rarely experienced blatant discrimination.
Then, on May 31, she received an email from a Magnolia craft market denying her pottery business — The Lucky Pot Co. — a vendor spot at the market because she was a part of the LGBTQ community. Alaniz does not sell products specifically marketed to LGBTQ customers, but she publicly states her identity as a queer woman on her Instagram profile.
“I am Hispanic. I’m very white-passing, so I don’t get discriminated against. I benefit from white privilege, so this was my first experience,” Alaniz said. “When they had sent that email, I was shocked. I didn’t respond to the email because I knew that my response to it was going to be very emotional.”
Roots Markets on Magnolia, a crafts market launched in May, denied Alaniz a spot in its market because it has “biblically based values” that do not “have the same views as LGBTQ+” people, the market’s email to Alaniz said.
Alaniz said she had already been a vendor at the market on Magnolia in May, when it launched during Mother’s Day. Her interactions with the market were respectful, concise and positive for the most part, she said. Alaniz promoted the market to her vendor friends in a group chat and social media.
The harmony between Alaniz and Roots Markets at Magnolia ended when she received the email. Alaniz said she didn’t have an issue with the market having its beliefs, but wished it had been upfront or stated in its application form.
Alaniz turned to Shea Dardis, a founder of Wandering Roots Markets, which has publicly supported LGBTQ rights. Dardis expressed her shock and concern over social media, especially after community members rallied around Alaniz and mistakenly attacked Dardis’ similarly named market.
In 2022, Roots Fort Worth, a wedding venue on North Main Street, shared its unwillingness to host same-sex marriages via social media. As a result, Roots Coffeehouse faced angry comments from customers who mistakenly associated the wedding venue with the coffee shop.
This year, Wandering Roots Markets is on the receiving end of criticism mistakenly aimed at the market.
“I was just hoping that Roots Coffee wasn’t getting hit again because I know they got hit pretty hard last year,” Dardis said. “That’s essentially what’s happening to me this time around.”
Roots Markets on Magnolia did not respond to the Report’s requests for comment via email and blocked the reporter and publication’s Instagram accounts.
On Friday evening, the market said it will continue to make decisions on who it partners with based on “the standards in the word of God.” The statement, posted on Instagram and Facebook, said Roots unapologetically stands by its core values and beliefs.
“We have love and compassion for those who identify as LGBTQ+, and we firmly believe in God’s design for marriage and family,” the market’s statement reads. “As a local market, we will not waiver from the truth of the word of God that our market is founded on.”
The market will continue to welcome all who wish to visit, according to the statement.
Mike Brennan, Near Southside Inc. president, said the whole situation is “a step backwards.” The nonprofit organization pushes for revitalization in the Near Southside neighborhood, which includes the Magnolia Avenue area.
“The Near Southside has a long history as a diverse and accepting district and has always had strong ties to the LGBTQ community,” Brennan said. “Honestly, our entire team thought that Fort Worth as a whole was well past this type of discussion. It feels like yesterday the ‘Y’all means all’ slogan was being celebrated as the city’s marketing pitch.”
Brennan said any backward movement is discouraging, but seeing the community’s response to hate and discrimination shows the unwavering spirit of the Near Southside community.
“I think this is a situation where the reaction from the community, we’re OK with,” he said. “What we’re seeing in that reaction is representative of what the Near Southside is about, so we’ll probably just let that speak for itself.”
Dardis, who co-founded the Wandering Roots Market in 2020, said she cannot believe a crafts market with anti-LGBTQ values would want to set up shop on Magnolia.
“I have been involved in the Near Southside area for over 10 years, so it’s very disappointing that they came in and kind of pulled the covers over people’s heads a little bit as far as what their values are,” Dardis said. “It’s very disappointing that they take queer people’s money and then turn around and say, ‘Actually, no, we can’t accept you because you are queer or you have queer products or you support the queer community.’”
The Magnolia and Southside community won’t stand for hate, Dardis said. She was not surprised to see the community come together quickly to support Alaniz. Dardis is offering any LGBTQ vendor who was rejected by Roots Market a spot in her Tanger Outlet Mall market on June 3. Alaniz will be selling her pots there.
“I feel like it’s unethical. It’s not like they sit there and ask everybody who enters their market if they are gay or trans,” Alaniz said. “You’re more than happy to take trans peoples’ money, or lesbians’ money, but you draw the line at having them sell products at the market?”
Alaniz — and her small pottery business — remain steadfast and focused on the positive rather than the hate. She will be donating 15% of her business’ June proceeds to nonprofits Finn’s Place and Youth First.
“I’ve been very fortunate that I haven’t gotten any negative backlash. I’ve only gotten positive messages sent my way — even someone from Australia shared my account,” Alaniz said. “All the love that I have been receiving outweighs any hate that they could have.”
This story has been updated to include a statement by Roots Markets on Magnolia.
Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by emailor via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.