This blog post was written by Tammi Wallace (she/her/hers), Co-Founder, President & CEO of the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce, originally published on June 1, 2022.
It’s June! June is about celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. The Chamber will be celebrating throughout the month with our signature Pride In Business Celebration & Awards, with many of our sports teams and our Business Level Members and Corporate Partners. The community will be active with events planned throughout the month including the return of Houston’s Pride Parade. I have no doubt it will be a wonderful month of celebration but also of reflection and contemplation.
With so much going on in this world, it’s important to celebrate but to also reflect and contemplate. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about what celebration means when there is so much adversity facing the LGBTQ+ community and facing our world. The LGBTQ+ community continues to be under attack from legislatures across the country, especially the transgender community in Texas.
President Obama said, “No one should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding hands with the person they love.” But, in this world we live in, I’m afraid to walk down the street holding hands with my wife.
No LGBTQ+ business owner should be afraid to come out as an LGBTQ+ entrepreneur. But, in the world we live in, many entrepreneurs are afraid. This fear stops them from joining the Chamber, and it holds them back from authentic engagement in their lives and through their businesses.
I’ve talked to LGBTQ+ business owners time and time again, and they repeat the same message that they are afraid to lose customers or clients. It’s why the work of the Chamber is so important…so we can continue building a space for these entrepreneurs to feel welcomed and be authentic and find customers and clients who value them and not judge them, in addition to offering opportunity and business development.
In this world, we need to feel safe when seeking and interacting at the most challenging times of our lives but in many cases, we do not. This plays out in the workplace, in healthcare, in every facet of our lives, and for some more than others, depending on where you live.
Someone recently shared with me that he was in the hospital with his husband and was talking to a recovery nurse at the hospital where his husband was continually referred to as his “friend”. A friend? While his husband is in ICU recovering…the nurse is taking away the safety and security he should feel in this moment interacting with the healthcare provider during a scary time.
As LGBTQ+ people, we still live in a world where we are devalued in so many cases, in the workplace, as entrepreneurs, and society.
As we reflect on all the progress for the LGBTQ+ community in recent decades, let’s remember there is still so much work to do to achieve equity and to be fully realized as a part of society and not constantly fight day after day for our rights to simply exist, to love and to live.
As a community, we need our allies engaged twelve months out of the year and not just during Pride Month. As a Chamber, we need our Members and Corporate Partners engaged throughout the year to help us make progress around economic inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community.
So…yes…let’s celebrate. It is after all Pride Month! But let’s recognize the challenges ahead and be ready to engage and to advocate…all year long.
How can you advocate all year long?
- Support an LGBTQ+ organization with your time, talent and/or treasure
- Be intentional about shopping from LGBTQ+-owned businesses throughout the year
- Promote an LGBTQ+-owned business (or many!) through your network to encourage others to “Shop LGBTQ+”
- Join the Chamber (whether you are an LGBTQ+ or Allied owned business) or engage as a Corporate Partner
- Use your voice and engage your legislators throughout the year so they hear from you about LGBTQ+ issues
About the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce