The GSBA Blog

  • Your Investment Full Circle - Elliat Graney-Saucke

    | Sep 29, 2016
    bw_elliatElliat Graney-Saucke is a local filmmaker, educator, cultural worker, curator and researcher. As a GSBA Scholarship recipient in 2004, she has found herself coming full circle and back to the GSBA as a young working professional in the arts and cultural sector.

    An honors student and GSA club member in high school in Olympia, Elliat ended up quitting high school in the 11th grade. This was largely due to increasing complications with social and familial dynamics in relation to her queer sexual/gender identity. While deeply engaged in creative arts community organizing within LGBTQ community in Olympia and Seattle, she didn't envision herself returning to formal education. That is, until she learned about the GSBA and Pride Foundation scholarship funds.

    Being accepted as a scholar due to her strong innovations in queer youth cultural organizing validated not only her intelligence and capability but also her queerness, fulfilling a sense of being seen and valued as a whole person. With a scholarship covering a full year of tuition at Seattle Central College, she went from holding a GED to being a college student. Elliat completed her BA in Cultural Studies at Goddard College in Vermont.

    In 2009 Elliat moved to Germany based on her cultural research and feature documentary project "Travel Queeries." Berlin became her home base while completing her BA, and then as she pursued a Masters in UNESCO World Heritage Studies at the Brandenburg University of Technology. In 2015, Elliat returned to Seattle to complete her second feature documentary "Boys on the Inside," an 8 year project about 'boy' identity in women's prisons in Washington State, as well as to develop her production company and creative practice in the Seattle and national arts community. She is currently on the steering committees for The Seattle Documentary Association, S.A.L.T. (Seattle Arts Leadership Team - Office of Arts and Culture), and Next Gen National Arts Network, as well as teaching film around Seattle and working as a critical consultant in media with the National Performance Network.

    Reconnecting with the GSBA plays an important role in professionalizing the arts leadership and media work she is currently cultivating. Coming home, not only to the Pacific Northwest, but also to the organization that believed in her as a young queer woman, putting her back on the path of gaining degrees in higher education, is a beautiful and exciting thing. 
  • Member Candidate: Jim Moeller

    | Sep 29, 2016

    GSBA has several members on the ballot this year. GSBA does not endorse candidates for elected office, but we are pleased to offer them a chance to speak to their fellow members.



    I’m Jim Moeller, and I want to make Congress work again. I have been a healthcare professional with Kaiser Permanente for over 35 years; I have served as a Vancouver City Councilman, and for the past 14 years I have been honored to serve as Washington State Representative of the 49th Legislative District.


    I am running on a simple, yet powerful principle: MAKE CONGRESS WORK AGAIN! It’s something that I know we’d all like to see and it’s something that I am prepared to make happen. With your help, Democrats can take back the 3rd Congressional District and make Congress work again.


    This election cycle is one of the most important and divisive elections our country has experienced in years. Citizens will be asked to choose between a narcissist and a racist who uses inappropriate and dangerous rhetoric to rally his base of supporters; or a woman with experience and dedication to leading our country in a smart and positive direction. However the decision must be made at home as well.


    Currently, the 3rd Congressional District is without representation. Our Congresswoman has continually voted for policies that go against the best interests of our community. Time and again she has voted to defund and repeal the Affordable Care Act, denying thousands of her constituents access to affordable health care. Despite the danger of the proposed Port of Vancouver oil terminal, our Congresswoman has described it as an “economic opportunity.” Perhaps even worse is her gradually increasing support for Trump.


    Congresswoman Herrera Beutler previously said she was waiting for Trump to earn her vote, but more recently she has said she’s been encouraged by his rhetoric and more substantive policy proposals. However I, like I’m sure you do, continue to hear the bigotry and hatred that underlies his unintelligent and irresponsible policy solutions.


    The fact that our Congresswoman is considering voting for Trump concerns me. Her absentee record concerns me. Her failure to engage our community and propose bills that represent our district concerns me. That is why I am running for Congress. I am running to provide the 3rd Congressional District with the representation they so desperately need. I am running to advance policies such as the Affordable Care Act, increase minimum wage, and provide paid family leave for working mothers. But most importantly I am running to make Congress work again!


    One of the greatest privileges I’ve had is to represent the 49th Legislative District in the Washington State Legislature. I value the beliefs of our community and I am dedicated to providing policies that meet their needs. I have truly enjoyed campaigning and meeting more of the people that make up the 3rd Congressional District. It’s been an exciting campaign so far and I am very encouraged and humbled by the incredible support I have received from my future constituents and others throughout Washington State!


    I very much look forward to representing the 3rd Congressional District and making Congress work again! Any contribution of any amount would be greatly appreciated.


    Thank you for your support, 

    Jim Moeller
  • Member Candidate: Anthony Gipe

    | Sep 29, 2016

    GSBA has several members on the ballot this year. GSBA does not endorse candidates for elected office, but we are pleased to offer them a chance to speak to their fellow members.

    To My Friends and Colleagues at GSBA:

    GipeAs a proud, longtime member of the GSBA, I write to ask you to vote for me in my campaign to become a judge on King County Superior Court.  I believe that my breadth of experience, and my skills as a leader in the legal profession make me the best choice for the needs of the Superior Court and the needs of our community.

    • I have dedicated 30+ years to serving the public and serving justice.  I am a Navy veteran who served as an interpreter and intelligence analyst until “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  I left service because I couldn’t remain silent in the face of discrimination.  This is also why I became a civil right attorney and a family law attorney, where I work to correct the wrongs done by discrimination and to help families in need. 


    • I have the broadest trial experience of anyone in this race.  I have conducted dozens of trials in many different subjects including civil claims and family law, which is most of what the Superior Court handles day-to-day.  In fact, out of all cases that actually go to trial, only 25% are criminal trials, and the rest (75%) are civil, family, and other types of trials.  We need judges who are able to jump in and handle any type of case immediately.


    • I am the only candidate in this race with judicial experience serving as a pro tem judge and as an Arbiter.


    • I have been rated “Exceptionally Well Qualified” or “Well Qualified” for this position by five Bar Associations, including the King County Bar Association and four Minority Bar Associations.


    • I haves dedicated thousands of hours serving the public and the profession in areas of Access to Justice and Equality.  My pro bono work includes serving as counsel for three non-profits.  My service to the legal community includes serving as the first LGBT President in our State Bar Association’s 125-year history.  In everything I do, I focus on diversity, inclusion, and cultural competence in the legal profession and in our courts.


    • I am endorsed by all 9 Washington Supreme Court Justices, including Justice Mary Yu, as well as numerous key community leaders and organizations throughout King County.  My list of endorsers includes over 40 judges and over 25 elected officials, including House Speaker Frank Chopp, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, Representative Brady Walkinshaw, and Senator Jamie Pedersen.  I have also been endorsed by the King County Democrats (sole endorsement), the King County Young Democrats (sole endorsement), the King County Labor Council, 16 Legislative District Democratic organizations, and all of the past presidents of the State Bar Association for the last ten years.  These individuals and organizations all agree that I have the skills, temperament, and judgment to serve on the Superior Court.

    It is important to vote for judges who have a demonstrated track record of service and meet the needs of the court.  I hope you will support my candidacy and vote so that we have an experienced public servant and community leader on the Superior Court. 

    You can learn more about me and my qualifications and accomplishments at:


    Anthony David Gipe

    Candidate for King County

    Superior Court, Position 52

  • Member Candidate: Mary Yu

    | Sep 29, 2016

    GSBA has several members on the ballot this year. GSBA does not endorse candidates for elected office, but we are pleased to offer them a chance to speak to their fellow members.

    Dear Friends at the Greater Seattle Business Association,

    DW-4683Thank you for your support over the years. Because of your hard work in helping to make our community visible, I am proud to be the first member of the LGBTQ community and the first woman of color (Asian and Latina) to serve on the Washington State Supreme Court.

    This year, I am in a contested race to retain my position on the Court. My race has attracted an opponent who is a retired law professor and a fellow at the Discovery Institute. He has never served as a judge and while he has made positive contributions to the law in the academic community, he has also filed legal briefs and gone on record opposing same sex marriage, and supports the teaching of creationism in our public schools.

    Judicial elections matter and each of you need to make sure that you not only vote in judicial elections but that you are an informed voter when it comes to deciding who should sit on our state's highest court. 


    I believe I remain the most qualified individual for the position. I have the experience and an unwavering commitment to decide cases with an open mind and with intellectual integrity under the law.

    I joined our Supreme Court in 2014 after more than 14 years as a trial court judge in King County Superior Court. While there, I presided over a wide variety of criminal, civil, juvenile, and family law cases. I was honored to preside over Washington’s first same-sex weddings on the day the voter-approved law took effect. So many of you have provided me with the privilege of presiding over many second-parent adoptions as well as weddings that continue to bring hundreds of families together under the law.

    As a Supreme Court Justice, I have a track record of writing straightforward court opinions that follow the law and protect our constitution; decisions respecting individual privacy and ensuring government transparency.

    The most important values for me as a trial court judge were to treat everyone with respect and fairness, to approach each case with an open mind, to decide cases impartially, and to understand that every decision I made impacted the lives of real people. As a Supreme Court Justice, I continue to hold those same values.

    I have received the highest rating, Exceptionally Well Qualified, by every bar association that has rated me, including Q-Law, the LGBT Bar Association. I was particularly proud of having received the 2013 Public Official of the Year award from the Municipal League Foundation and several Judge of the Year awards from multiple organizations, including the Washington State Association for Justice, the Washington State Bar Association, Washington Women Lawyers - King County Chapter, Asian Bar Association, and the American Board of Trial Advocates. Finally, I am pleased to have the endorsement of the Seattle Times and the Tri City Herald.

    Protecting the integrity of our Court is more important than ever. Please remember that every vote counts and I especially need yours this year.

    If you want to learn more about judicial elections, is a neutral site that collects information about judicial races.

    If you want to learn more about me, check out my Facebook page or my campaign website: and

    Thank you,

    Mary Yu

    Retain Justice Mary Yu Committee

    (206) 683-7328

  • Religion Is Not A License To Discriminate

    | Aug 25, 2016

    After years of counseling and hormone therapy, a transgender woman in Eastern Washington was ready for the next phase of medically necessary gender-affirming surgery, and the Washington State Health Care Authority referred her to an experienced provider. But when she called to schedule her procedure, she was told that the hospital would not provide care to her because she was transgender, claiming religious reasons. When she sought help from hospital administration, she was told that her request would have to be reviewed by the local bishop and other religious leaders. Finally, she had to obtain care elsewhere, hours away from her home and family.


    This is sadly not an unusual story. Despite the positive changes in state policy over the last few years, there is a severe shortage of physicians who are qualified to perform medically necessary transition-related procedures and treatments, and even fewer accept insurance. Casey Jaywork of the Seattle Weekly recently documented the journey of a Seattle transman who was forced to go to Oregon to get treatment. When Jaywork asked a state Medicaid spokesperson for a list of surgeons who do top surgeries and accept Medicaid, the response was only “I wish we had that information.”


    When it is already so difficult to find a doctor, to have the hospital itself block available treatment for religious reasons is unconscionable. Hospitals and doctors who deny services because a patient is transgender are part of a broader trend of attempts to limit anti-discrimination laws on the basis of religious exemptions.  Currently, one in six hospitals in the country are operated in accordance with Catholic religious rules. According to MergerWatch and the ACLU, 40 percent of all hospital beds in Washington State are in religious hospitals, and entire regions have no other option for hospital care. These hospitals are receiving federal funds as public hospitals and refusing to offer the full range of medically appropriate services to the public, including women’s reproductive care and appropriate care for LGBT people.


    Recognizing that her rights had been violated, the Eastern Washington woman reached out to Denise Diskin of Teller & Associates. Very involved with both GSBA and QLaw, Denise is a leader in our state in the fight for LGBT civil rights, focusing on discrimination and harassment toward LGB and particularly transgender people, and was recently recognized by the LGBT Bar as one of the country’s Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40. She also founded the monthly transgender legal clinic at Ingersoll Gender Center so that trans people can get legal advice in a safe space, as well as at QLaw’s regular monthly legal clinic.


    Denise then reached out to Legal Voice, because as she put it, “no one knows more than Legal Voice about handling issues of religious exclusions in healthcare.” This is the third time that they have worked together, previously securing pregnancy medical benefits for a lesbian couple and defending another client’s access to medically necessary treatment after a denial by their insurance company. “We knew this denial of treatment was a clear violation of the Washington Law Against Discrimination,” says David Ward, Legal & Legislative Counsel with Legal Voice.


    A settlement was reached between the woman and the hospital, providing her with $50,000 and requiring that the hospital train its staff in providing appropriate, respectful care to transgender patients. The client herself explained that “The fact that the hospital will be training their staff to properly treat and accommodate the LGBT community after the incident is of great importance to me. That is the real victory in all of this.”


    This case reminds us that there are strong protections under both state and federal law that prohibit healthcare providers from refusing services to people because of their gender identity. The Affordable Care Act is very clear on the rights of transgender people to access to healthcare, although the LGBT community must continue to fight the ongoing attacks on anti-discrimination laws . Religion is not a license to discriminate in healthcare! If an a person experiences discrimination by a healthcare provider because of their gender identity or sexual orientation, they may file a complaint with both the Washington State Human Rights Commission and the federal Health & Human Services Civil Rights Division, and contact a private attorney or an organization like Legal Voice for assistance.


    This story is about basic humanity. All patients should be treated like people in their place of care. As we saw in combating Initiative 1515’s efforts to roll back our anti-discrimination laws, we still face determined foes. Thanks to the work of exceptional legal superstars like Denise Diskin and Legal Voice, our community’s rights have been upheld once more.

  • Your Investment at Work: Landon Tan

    | Aug 23, 2016

    Landon Tan was a GSBA Scholar in 2009, 2010, and 2013.


    TAN, LANDON_photo credit Sam S Smith

    GSBA has always been a supportive place of people who were eager to know and support me. For instance, when in college I was exploring a career in medicine, I reached out to the Scholarship manager to find someone to meet and talk with about the field. Although there was no official mentorship program, I trusted that GSBA would call upon its extensive network to put someone in my corner. After I graduated in 2014, I ended up pursuing a career in financial advising. I reached out to Stephanie Dallas who had hosted my table for the 2013 GSBA Scholars Dinner and who happens to be experienced financial advisor. Since then I have benefited from the generosity of her mentorship in our quarterly get-togethers. I would encourage any GSBA scholar to take advantage of the network of professionals who are invested in their success. These connections are what make GSBA meaningful to me, and I hope to make more of them now that I have become an official member. GSBA supported me as a student, at a time when life felt more trying and more unclear, and it feels satisfying to be able to return to that same place now to meet new like-minded friends, business connections, and clients. 


    I think the intangible value of a GSBA scholarship is not so much in guiding young people to be engaged, since the scholarship committee is choosing from a pool of exceptionally engaged and highly motivated young students, but in providing a site of shared learning and a place to connect with members of the LGBTQ community who are different than you. For instance, many scholars grew up with greater struggles than I or many of my now-fellow GSBA members have overcome. GSBA encompasses a great diversity of disenfranchisement, so to speak, and I think there is a tremendous opportunity for sharing over that divide. Hopefully, it is a place where healthy and successful members of our community act as donors and mentors to the next generation, but also commit to learn from scholars with humility regarding the privileges many members enjoy.

  • Newest GSBA Board Members

    | Jul 27, 2016
    Welcome to the newest GSBA Board members:

    Bryan Adamson PhotoBryan Adamson
    Associate Professor, Seattle University School of Law
    Bryan teaches consumer protection law, mass media law and policy and civil procedure at Seattle University. Previously he taught at Case Western Reserve University School of Law and served as an Assistant Prosecutor in Cuyahoga County. He was a Amicus Advisor in the U.S. Supreme Court cases Hollingswoth v. Perry and Grutter v. Bollinger which asserted the unconstitutionality of California's Proposition 8 and the constitutionality of the University of Michigan affirmative action program, respectively. Bryan also serves on GSBA's Public Policy Task Force.

    DannyCordsDanny Cords
    Danny is and inspired by the mission and values of the Greater Seattle Business Association. As a former GSBA Scholar, he is passionate about bridging opportunities between students and small and large businesses.

    Danny comes to the Board with a Master of Arts in Adult Education and Organizational Development, with research focused on improving the financial stability of private non-profit universities. A strong believer in transparency in post-secondary education, Danny spent time presenting his research to students, faculty, staff and administrators about tuition dependency, student repayment terms, and default mitigation strategies. Danny now works in Global Talent Development for Starbucks where he consults on the learning programs for Global Retail Learning. Committed to equity, transparency and leader development, Danny is excited to work with an organization who is committed to elevating our Scholars, our businesses, and our community. 

    Linda Di Lello Morton
    Owner, Terra Plata
    Together with her partner Tamara Murphy, Linda is co-owner of the Capitol Hill restaurant Terra Plata. Together they have created some of the Northwest's defining culinary events such as Burning Beast (in support of the educational work of the Rubicon Foundation) and the Incredible Feast for the Good Farmer Fund. Linda and Tamara are the 2015 recipients of the GSBA Community Leaders of the Year award.

    Beth Hester
    VP External Affairs, Comcast
    Beth_Hester_001Beth Hester Beth leads Comcast's Government Affairs, Public Relations and Community Investment for the Washington Region. She has 20 years of experience in integrated communications, external and governmental affairs, media relations, reputation management, crisis communications, multi-channel marketing, events management, creative services management, customer relations, community engagement, coalition building, policy development and implementation and quantitative research. 

    Most recently, Beth worked as the Vice President of Client Services for Nyhus Communications and as the Director of Public Affairs for Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. Beth also served as the General Manager for The Seattle Channel. In the course of her nine years with the channel, she led the organization’s restructuring resulting in it becoming the number one rated municipal television station in the country. During that time, she received 10 Emmy nominations.

    Beth is a current board member for the Woodland Park Zoo and the Broadband Communications Association of Washington.  Formerly she has held board positions with Seafair and Three Dollar Bill Cinema and has served as a scholarship committee volunteer for the Pride Foundation. Beth holds a BA in Political science from Hobart and William Smith Colleges as well as her MPA, Public Administration from New York University. Beth lives in West Seattle with her wife Shannon and their four canine companions and loves the Pacific Northwest great outdoors.
  • Your Investment at Work: Ash Peers

    | Jul 27, 2016
    Ash peers
    My name is Ash Peers, my pronouns are They/Them/Theirs, and I am a four year GSBA scholar. I grew up in a small Washington town, where I was one of few out queer students in my high school. I first heard of the scholarship from my GSA advisor who encouraged me to apply.

    It was not easy being queer in such a small community, without many others who could relate to the experiences I had. GSBA was the first place where I met many other out, proud queer folks. I remember the interview process and the scholarship dinner as the first times where everyone I spoke to could really understand what it was like to want a community of people like myself. 

    Winning the scholarship opened many doors to me. Beyond the much appreciated financial aid, the scholarship process gave me courage to face the leap of faith that was my freshman year of college. I was a queer, first-generation student from a small town, and the backing of GSBA was a tremendous boost. It was important for me to see not only other happy queer students, but also the queer elders I hadn’t imagined could exist. These experiences helped me to imagine a life beyond my small town and beyond my educational career. I saw that I could gain an education and do something worthwhile with it, like the people I had met at the scholarship dinner. Furthermore, it gave me the confidence to seek out a community of queer people in my new environment. 

    GSBA also showed me the importance of people within a community doing work for that community. I learned the importance of having queer representation among those who are leaders, and I have applied this to my time at Western. For the past two summers I have been involved with putting on the yearly orientation programs for new students, and by doing so I have tried to show incoming queer students that there are others like them on campus. 

    A few years have passed since I won that first GSBA scholarship. I am currently going into my senior year at Western Washington University, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, with minors in Queer Studies and Psychology. I will use my degree to support the LGBTQ communities I am part of. Currently my plan is to do so by pursuing work in a non-profit environment. It has been a long, difficult road to where I am today. I’ve experienced huge changes both academically and personally, but one constant throughout the journey has been the support of the Greater Seattle Business Association and its Scholarship Fund. I wholeheartedly thank them for the work they have done on behalf of myself and the many other scholars out there.
  • King County becomes a national leader in recognizing the economic impact of LGBT-owned businesses

    | Jul 07, 2016


    Louise Chernin, GSBA President & CEO; King County Council Chair Joe McDermott; King County Executive Dow Constantine; Jonathan D. Lovitz, VP of External Affairs, National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce




    Local and national businesses associations say that Executive Constantine’s decision to make King County the largest county in the United States to track the number of contracts awarded to LGBT-owned small businesses will have a positive impact on the region’s economy and predict that other metropolitan regions will follow King County’s lead.




    King County will become a national leader in supporting LGBT-owned small businesses under an inclusive policy announced today by Executive Dow Constantine.

    King County will become the largest county in the United States to track the number of contracts that are awarded to LGBT entrepreneurs, an approach that has dramatically increased the number and value of contracts awarded to local small businesses owned by women, people of color and people who are disadvantaged during Executive Constantine’s administration.

    “We are once again putting King County at the national forefront of social change and justice,” said Executive Constantine. “We are stronger when we reduce barriers to opportunity so everyone can fully participate in our economy. By supporting local LGBT entrepreneurs, we are making progress toward a just, equitable society.

    Local and national business associations say the move will have a positive impact on economic activity in the region and predict that other metropolitan regions will follow King County’s lead.

    “Opportunity and access are key ingredients for ensuring the success of small businesses. GSBA applauds King County for its leadership in being the first government agency in the Northwest to recognize LGBT certification so that LGBT businesses will now have parity in opportunity with other minority businesses in the region,” Louise Chernin, President & CEO of the Greater Seattle Business Association. “By recognizing and tracking certified LGBT-owned businesses that apply for contracts, King County continues its longstanding commitment to equality, diversity and opportunity for all.”

    “King County continues a long tradition of creating greater access to the American Dream for the thousands of LGBT business owners who live and work there,” said Justin Nelson, co-founder and President of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. “By offering an equal seat at the table to bid on King County contracts, we will see the same surge in the job creation, industry innovation, and contributions to the local economy that LGBT businesses owners have earned acclaim for across this country. King County is now committed to enhancing the visibility of its thriving LGBT business community.”

    “For the past couple years, the SBA has conducted LGBTQ Business Builder trainings across the U.S. to educate LGBTQ-owned small businesses about the supply chain opportunities available through LGBTQ business certification,” said U.S. Small Business Administration Regional Administrator Calvin Goings. “I commend King County for being a leader among local governments by embracing this inclusive vision of entrepreneurship. When we draw from all demographics and backgrounds, we’ll grow our economy, create good jobs, and make the Puget Sound more globally competitive.”


    Based on a highly successful model


    The county’s successful Small Contractors and Suppliers program has more than doubled the number and value of contracts awarded to local small businesses since Executive Constantine took office. The number of certified small contractors has increased from just over 1,100 in 2010 to more than 2,300 last year. The value of small business contracts over that same period has increased from $23 million to $47.3 million.

    Contracts are still awarded to businesses that score the highest in the competitive process, regardless of race, gender or sexual identity. What King County has done is increase the number and diversity of small businesses competing for contracts by reaching out to small business owners that have historically been disadvantaged and making the procurement process more accessible.

    Now the county will expand the approach to include LGBT small business owners to increase visibility and create a more equitable environment. By creating a directory of LGBT-owned small businesses, King County will also better connect local business owners, acting as a catalyst for economic activity.

    The announcement is the culmination of work that started during Executive Constantine’s first term when he committed to reforming county operations, which evolved into what is now known as the  Best Run Government initiative. One of the achievements was improving the procurement process to make it more convenient for businesses. Today, for example, small businesses can enroll in a single program to compete for contracts awarded by King County, the Port of Seattle, Sound Transit and Seattle Colleges.

    King County will also include an LGBT category in its directory of small businesses, making it easier for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender businesses to support one another.


    The largest county in the U.S. to apply this approach


    With a population of more than 2.1 million residents, King County is the 13th-largest county in the United States. It will be just the second county, after Essex County in New Jersey, to track how many contracts are awarded to businesses owners who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender.

    Only two states – Massachusetts and California – include an LGBT category in their procurement policies.




    National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (LGBT certification)
    King County Office of Equity and Social Justice
    Executive Constantine’s Best Run Government initiative
    Directory of Small Businesses and Contractors

  • Your Investment at Work: Alessandro Mauro Lou

    | Jun 29, 2016

    My name is Alessandro Mauro Lou. I am a first-year GSBA scholar at Seattle Central College studying mathematics and computer science working on a transfer degree. My deepest desire in life is to heal, and see positive transformation in people.


    Lou, AlessandroI am a Seattle native, but grew up in Milan, Italy. I was born to a San Franciscan Chinese father and Milanese Italian mother, both damaged, fraying characters. My father is heavily scarred from the physical abuse of his own father, and the prevalent racism he grew up with in as a Chinese person in San Francisco in the 60’s and 70’s. My mother suffered from depression, alcohol and prescription drug addiction, and an on-and-off heroin habit.


    I grew up wanting to help and heal my parents, and it took 18 years to learn that I was not equipped to do so.


    At a very young age, I stopped wanting to heal my father after his beatings became too frequent. Being chased around the house and locked in the basement was not something I wanted to normalize or accept.


    I never stopped wanting to heal my mother. I fought vigilantly against my father, her boyfriends who beat and raped her, and the alcohol that consumed her. She was my best friend. But I realized I couldn’t heal my mother when I got a glimpse of her failing liver with the yellow in her beautiful brown eyes, and that was when I knew she was dying. I didn’t know how to live without her. I still don’t know how to function without her. But the fact that I could not heal her, that I did not have the tools to do so, is a driving motivation to want to heal and help others.


    I came out to my mom in secret when I was 11 years old, and she told me she always wanted a gay son. Little did she know that my older brother would also come out a year later.


    I spent the majority of my childhood in Milan. Catholic, image-focused and northern European-centered Milan bred a lot of self-hatred for the fact that I was born into an interracial marriage, for my sexual identity, and personal spirituality. Moving to Seattle and being embraced for my difference has helped heal me. The LGBTQ community, and more specifically the womxn and people of color in the LGBTQ community, has inspired me to help heal others in return.


    Currently I work as a barista at Kaladi Brothers Coffee, a coffee house that shares a building with Gay City Health Project, Ingersoll Gender Center and Equal Rights Washington on Capitol Hill. I also work as a tutor at the SAM Learning Center, a space offering assistance in math, chemistry, physic, computer science, engineering and statistics. The Center is a hub for underrepresented and marginalized people of all sorts. I am honored to help facilitate growth, and work with my peers to learn and feel empowered by knowledge.


    I am excited to be able to get to focus more on school and have fewer worries about financial burdens thanks to my GSBA scholarship. I will be taking physics and calculus during the fall quarter, and I know that this scholarship will alleviate the anxiety surrounding being an adult student, working a job, and living in expensive Seattle. I hope to be more involved clubs at Seattle Central as well as with the wider LGBTQ community in Seattle.


    There is a lot of healing to be found in the teaching and exchange of knowledge. My goal is to more effectively connect the broader LGBTQ community with existing resources and information, such as safe community spaces, HIV prevention and mental health services. I want to break down barriers to access and teach technical skills to marginalized LGBTQ youth to help them rise above adversity in a high-tech economy.


    Beyond that, I would also like to study acupuncture and heal through bodywork once I am financially stable enough to afford the privatized and very expensive Eastern Medicine schools in the USA. I would like to specifically offer free services to queer people, people of color, and other people in need.


    Thank you for having faith in me, and for supporting me as I work to become a healer for the LGBTQ community in as many ways as I can.


    My deepest gratitude,


    Alessandro Mauro Lou

  • GSBA ecstatic over recent US Supreme Court Decisions

    | Jun 29, 2016

    Once again the final week of June brings good news out of the U.S. Supreme Court!


    In the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case, the Court struck down a Texas law masquerading as a measure protecting women’s health but really meant to effectively outlaw abortion. As we did for marriage equality, GSBA led our community in signing on to an amicus brief of business leaders. Supporting everyone’s right to make decision about their own bodies has been central to LGBT civil rights. Attacks on women’s health are being waged for the same reasons and by the same people who oppose LGBT civil rights, public accommodations and legal protections. Supporting a woman’s right to choose has been an explicit platform in GSBA’s legislative agenda for years, and we are proud of all our members who heeded the call and added their names to the brief.


    The Court also declined to hear an appeal of the Stormans v. Wiesman case challenging a Washington State law that requires pharmacies to fill prescriptions regardless of objections based on religious beliefs. This case is deeply connected to GSBA and our community – our close partners at Legal Voice led the fight for our right to access safe, legal and necessary healthcare and our own Representative Laurie Jinkins was an original defendant in the suit. While the immediate case was based on an unwillingness of the pharmacy to stock Plan B, it is intrinsically linked with the right of LGBT people and HIV/AIDS patients to receive proper healthcare. Even if a business were to refer service to another location, this puts a significant burden on the customer. The threat is especially grave in rural areas where providers may be few and far between. “The Constitution may protect an individual’s religious freedom, but it does not give them a veto over the health care needs of others,” said Janet Chung, Legal & Legislative Counsel for Legal Voice.


    Women’s rights are LGBT rights. The right to make decisions over your own body and to receive safe, legal and necessary healthcare can never be pushed aside as a niche issue – it impacts each of us in our daily lives. GSBA sends a heartfelt thanks to the tireless advocates at Legal Voice for the exceptional work that they have put into securing the rights of women and LGBT people for years.

  • 5 Questions with Travis Mears

    | Jun 29, 2016


    We are so excited to welcome Travis Mears as our new Director of Development & Scholarship Programs. He kicked off his job at GSBA by joining Roger Levesque and several GSBA Scholars on CenturyLink Field to accept a generous check from Seattle Sounders FC during their Pride Match.

    Travis Headshot

    1. Welcome Travis! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
    Hailing from the Green Mountain State of Vermont, I moved to Washington for work in 2009. Since moving across the country, I have circumnavigated the globe after being recruited by Semester at Sea to sail for 106 days to 16 cities in 12 different countries throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. In my role as one of the Student Life Administrators, I supported a shipboard community comprised of 800+ international students and community members from institutions around the world. After disembarking from the ship, I still had an urge to globe trot and was not ready to be back in the U.S. so I decided to take a job living in Central London for six months as the Director of the N.U. in England Program through Northeastern University. At the conclusion of my yearlong adventure abroad, I moved to Seattle in 2014 and have come to call the Pacific Northwest home. Personal wellness is a big passion of mine, outside of work I am a part-time Crossfit Coach at Emerald City Crossfit and enjoy feeding my soul and stomach by experiencing the endless options in the Seattle culinary scene.

    2. What did you do before coming to GSBA?
    Prior to joining The GSBA team I spent the past 10 years working in student services on college and university campuses both nationally and internationally. Most recently, I served as the Associate Program Director of College Access Now (CAN), a Seattle based non-profit organization supporting students from low-income families as they enroll, persist and graduate from college. I received my Bachelor's Degree in Public Relations from Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont and my Master's Degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.

    3. What are you most excited about in your new role?
    Everything about my new role excites me...cliché, I know. The combination of supporting student success while working with an organization that is promoting diversity and equality in business is a dream come true.

    4. How do you see the role of a business organization running a scholarship fund?
    We are educating students to be future leaders for jobs that have not yet been created. The role GSBA plays within the student's experience is critical. As a Chamber of Commerce we have our finger on the pulse of the business community. We have the ability to engage members of GSBA in critical dialogues about the needs of the Greater Seattle economy to support the continued growth and development of our scholarship programs enhancing our students ability to obtain a degree of market value upon graduation.

    5. Do you have any favorite arts/theater/culture experiences in the Puget Sound region?
    I love experiencing and seeing new things, nothing is off limits in my opinion when it comes to the arts, theater or culture. For me these opportunities play a large role in keeping me connected to the greater Seattle community. One of my favorite things to do is stroll through the various art walks throughout the neighborhoods in Seattle, experiencing the city through the eyes of local artists is truly moving and always memorable.

    Sounders Pride
  • Welcoming Taryn & Carlos

    | May 26, 2016

    Taryn Nielsen, Graphic Designer


    What did you do before coming to GSBA?
    I moved to Washington in 2015 from Salt Lake City, where I was born and raised. I’ve worked in publishing and advertising and I’m excited to put my artistic talents to use for GSBA.
    What are you favorite things about living in the Puget Sound region?
    As a PNW newbie (and a mountain-lover), I’m smart to have picked a new home so close to beautiful water AND majestic mountains.

    What are you most excited about in your new role?
    GSBA hosts so many fun events and I can’t wait to get creative with design elements to support and emphasize the great work we do.

    CarlosTarynWith all the resources in the world, what would you like to create for GSBA?
    Is there a restriction on how big a banner can be at CenturyLink Field? I’d love to challenge the dimensions of a large-format printer and make an enormous GSBA tifo for a Sounders game.

    What is your favorite vacation destination or experience you’ve had?
    My father worked for Delta Airlines when I was in high school, and at 17-years of age, the day before spring break, a friend and I wanted to travel as cheaply as possible. I got us some inexpensive airfare, she called her college-age cousin attending Hawaii
    Pacific University, and the next day we were on Waikiki Beach. I’ve never enjoyed a spontaneous trip more and it’s probably because Matsumoto Shave Ice was on the menu every day!

    Carlos Chavez, Program & Events Manager


    What did you do before coming to GSBA?
    For the past 15 years, I worked in multiple capacities for the Metropolitan Community Churches which is the world’s largest LGBT Christian denomination. I had the opportunity to meet and work with wonderful people from all around the world and learn about different cultures and traditions which have enriched my life in so many ways.

    You’ve been here for nearly a decade. What keeps you in Seattle?
    I love the weather believe it or not. I grew up in Los Angeles where the weather varies
    from warm to really-hot, living here where we experience all four seasons and no
    real extreme temperatures, except for the occasional snowmageddon, is really refreshing. We get to see plants and trees renew themselves every year and I see this as a reminder from Mother Nature, that we too are part of this cycle which makes us stronger and more colorful each year.

    What are you most excited about in your new role?
    Everyone at GSBA has been strongly committed to the values of the organization. Meeting new colleagues, making new connections and new friends as we come together to collaborate on projects is what I am really excited about and looking
    forward to.

    What kinds of new event programming would you like to start at GSBA?
    In the 9 years that I’ve lived in Seattle, I have seen how the racial diversity has been steadily increasing in the city. I would love to create programs that reach out to these growing communities so that they can take advantage of the huge business network GSBA has to offer.

    What is your favorite vacation destination or experience you’ve had?
    I love visiting Latin America. It doesn’t matter which country, there is something about the warmth and hospitality of the people in Latin America that simply feels good to me. My family immigrated to the United States from Peru when I was 8 years old and as much as I am an American culturally, I am also very aware that my roots are very Peruvian.
  • $2.7 million in scholarships since 1990

    | May 26, 2016
    Celebrating 26 years
    Reaching $2.7 million in Scholarships awarded since 1990
    Presenting $410,000 to 55 extraordinary Scholars
    Announcing the GSBA Guarantee
    Raising a record $180,000

    What an incredible evening!

    Over 500 guests filled the Seattle Marriott Waterfront ballroom to hear our Scholars share their stories, dreams, and incredible accomplishments, all too often achieved under very difficult circumstances and without support. Through the power of video, beautifully produced byInterchange Media, each story came alive. This year, the entire night was Scholar-focused as past Scholars presented scholarships to new students. Our emcee extraordinaire was our very own 2013 Scholar, current Board member, and Starbucks partner, Danny Cords.
    Special moments of the evening included hearing from 2003 Scholar Melissa Marsh, who shared her journey from hard times to being the impressive professional she is today. Then we had the presentation of the two newly endowed scholarships. It is an amazing tribute to honor someone's memory by creating a lifetime scholarship! Leslie Giblett presented the Giblett Family Scholarship to a student who is majoring in Political Science with the goal of representing the LGBT community in elected office. Carrie Carson presented the L. Robb Scholarship to Angela Tang, a fourth year GSBA Scholar and a student at Whitman College studying Economics.
    We were thrilled that Glenn Johnson and Michael MelanconBob Rhodehamel and 
    Dana SnyderKent Thoelke, Shay Thoelke, and Richelle Monahan; Linda Barzalai; and Tina Podlodowski were all on stage to congratulate their scholars: Anne Bryson Doyle (Glenn Johnson and Michael Melancon Bright Horizon Scholarship), Veronica Beltran Leyva(Chester Podlodowski Scholarship), Victor Puoci (David Barzilai Memorial Scholarship), Scout Osborne (Rich Thoelke Scholarship), and Laura Yanez (Rich Thoelke Scholarship).
    Hearing from our named scholarship donors, and from the recipients, created some very powerful moments that I know inspired many guests to think about leaving a legacy. If you are considering supporting a future LGBTQ leader, please don't hesitate to reach out to Mark Rosén, Stephanie Dallas, or me. We would love the opportunity to provide the GSBA Guarantee to even more deserving students next year.
    Two corporate partners created new scholarships this year, as well. Kasey Essex presented the first Wells Fargo GSBA Scholarship to Rigoberto Garcia who is currently pursuing a degree in accounting at Seattle University; and Joe Whittinghill presented the Microsoft Scholarships toOlivia Barrell (Digi Pen Institute of Technology), Katherine Cavanaugh (University of Washington), and Julia Weaver (University of Washington).
    The announcement of the GSBA Guarantee brought folks to their feet as we announced that,from this year forward, every Scholar will be guaranteed support for all four years of their undergraduate education as long as they stay in school.  
    The success of this year's dinner was due in large part to our Dinner Chair, Dena Levine and her outstanding Dinner Committee: Gen Bryant, Ryan Digges, Steve Gunn, Bob Rhodehamel, andLauren Mehl. Special thanks must also go to our Board Chair, Kevin Gaspari and Scholarship Fund Chair, Stephanie Dallas, and the entire GSBA Board who give countless hours to ensure the GSBA Scholarship Fund remains strong. Working alongside this extraordinary Board, is Team GSBA, our amazing GSBA staff. As VP of Development and Corporate Relations, Mark Rosén had a vision for this dinner and under his direction with support from the entire staff, the dinner was transformed. Add, Jessica Wootten's skill and talent in leading our 100 volunteers who read hundreds of applications and make the difficult decisions selecting these talented students, plus the incredible volunteers at the dinner, and you have a magical evening and a unique and life changing scholarship program.
    Very special thanks to PwC, our Title Sponsor; Dinner Sponsors Carter Subaru and Goodwill; and the Voice of Scholarship, Interchange Media. Thank you also to all of our table captains who brought wonderful guests to fill the room; to our Supporting Sponsors Girlie Pressand Countryside Floral & Garden; our Media Sponsors Pacific PublishingPuget Sound Business Journal, and Seattle Gay News; the remarkable volunteers; and Malcolm Smith Photographyand Dani Weiss Photography for capturing the evening in photographs. Big thanks also to the Seattle Marriott Waterfront for all the support they gave to this event and to their wonderful staff for taking such good care of us.
    Demonstrating their continued support of the GSBA Scholarship Fund, our annual sponsors were well represented, including our Jewels, the businesses which invest in both the chamber and the Scholarship Fund: our Diamond Jewel Sponsors Wells Fargo and Microsoft; Emerald Jewels 1st Security Bank and Alaska Airlines; Ruby Jewel PwC; and our new Sapphire Jewels Carter Subaru and Comcast. Thanks also to our Annual Sponsors: Platinum Partner US Bank; Gold Partners BulkFR8, Outerwall, Pacific Medical Centers, Starline Luxury Coaches, and Whitepages;  Silver Partners Amazon, Boeing, Everest University, Goodwill, Liberty Mutual,  Precision Garage Door Service, RBC Wealth Management, Safeco, Starbucks, and UW Medicine; and our Bronze Sponsors CenturyLink, DML Insurance, Google, Group Health, Irons Brothers Construction, Mona Smith, Attorneys at Law; Nesteggg, Sound Fertility, Sound Publishing, Sound Transit, RD House, Verity Credit Union, and Vulcan Inc. We are so grateful for all your support.
    The only bittersweet moment during the dinner was our farewell to Jessica Wootten, who is moving back to Indiana to be near family. The cheering and tears from our guests and scholars, as Jessica was presented with a poster signed by our scholars and her own Emerald Slipper, in honor of her success in raising important funds for the scholarship program, was an amazing tribute to the impact that Jessica has had on our Scholarship Fund. She will be missed!
    If you were unable to attend this powerfully moving 26th Scholars Dinner,
    it's not too late to join the celebration and to invest in the next generation of leaders by making a donation today.
    Also, it was so exciting to see many guests ready to sign up as table captains for our over-the-top Scholarship Fund gala, the TASTE of GSBA on November 19, 2016. Given, this event has sold out for the past five years, it is a good reminder to reserve your TASTE table now!
    Before I conclude my thanks to you all, I want to acknowledge the outstanding response from the business community to stand up against bigotry and intolerance by joining together and signing on to Washington Won't Discriminate, our campaign created to ensure our antidiscrimination policy, which has been in effect for 10 years, does not roll back civil rights for our transgender community. VOTE NO ON I-1515! If your business has not yet signed on to WA Won't Discriminate, please do so now.  Certainly, weakening our civil rights laws does not reflect Washington State values, where we are proud of being a progressive and inclusive state.
    For the future,
    Louise Chernin
    President & CEO
  • GSBA Launches New Group for Seattle Entrepreneurial Women

    | May 26, 2016

    SEW 1Several years ago, GSBA member Laura Culberg (Sweatbox Yoga) had a vision to connect women small business owners of Capitol Hill, and founded a group called Capitol Hill Entrepreneurial Women (CHEW).  The group provided a safe space for entrepreneurial women to meet and share the unique challenges facing their businesses, and offer one another support. The group’s goal was to “make a difference, make a living, make it better.”

    While there was great demand and interest for such a group, there was sadly not enough infrastructure or support to sustain this effort. Until now!

    nder the guidance of GSBA member Dani Cone (High Five Pie, Fuel Coffee and Cone & Steiner), a new and expanded version of this group has begun. Seattle Entrepreneurial Women (SEW) is GSBA’s latest initiative to bring women business owners together to find out what they need and how GSBA can best support them. The focus would be around business resource and skill-sharing, advocacy and representation of women small business owners, mentorship opportunities for aspiring women entrepreneurs and visibility within the community.

    To ensure the success of this important group, GSBA will provide administrative and logistical support. As issues and concerns are raised, GSBA’s Public Policy Task Force and Small Business Council will ensure these issues are brought before appropriate elected officials and government agencies. Given GSBA’s  vast nonprofit, government and small business networks, we are excited to be able to provide speakers, support and resources to SEWgsba, our newest affinity group.

    At our most recent meeting, 22 local women business owners showed up to learn more about upcoming legislation, discuss the start of a mentorship program for new entrepreneurs and offer resources to support one another.

    EWgsba is open to all women who independently own their own business and are current GSBA members. SEWgsba generally meets on the last Monday of the month from 9 AM to 10:30 AM but next month we will be meeting on Monday, June 20.

    Participants include: Christy Lillard (Laughing Buddha Tattoo), Cherri Trusheim (Urban Animal), Diane Skwiercz (Street Treats), Grace Schlitt (Illuminarrative), Cat Wilcox (Velouria), Karyn Schwartz (SugarPill), Linda Morgan (Terra Plata), Laura Culberg (SweatBox Yoga), Malia Keene (Magpie), Danielle Hulton (Ada’s Technical Books & Café), Francine Moo-Young (Moo-Young), Donna Larson (Stuffed Cakes), Erin Krohn (Hammer and Awl), Jenny Harding (New Chapter Events and Weddings), Jessamy Whitsitt (Pie), Lisa Michaud (Two Big Blondes Plus Size Consignment), Mariana Martos (Sur 16 Restaurant), Amanda Bedell (Nuflours Bakery), Dani Cone (Cone & Steiner, High 5 Pie, Fuel), and Louise Chernin (GSBA).

    For more information, please contact GSBA Membership Services Manager Ari Rosen.

  • LGBT Family Travel

    | May 25, 2016

    by Jason Dittmer

    LGBT parents may experience challenges other households do not, but a family is still a family, and families need to get away every once in a while!


    Planning a trip abroad with your family is an awesome opportunity to show your kids that the world is huge, to unplug and connect, and to kindle a sense of adventure. International travel destinations are becoming increasingly inclusive and welcoming to LGBT families, but here are a few things to consider prior to your departure.



    As Americans, we all take certain precautions to either avoid or to be prepared for situations where we may be disliked due to our nationality. LGBT families have to be even more careful and selective about the international destinations we visit.


    Although most LGBT travelers encounter no problems while overseas, the US Department of State advises,” …it helps to be prepared and research your destination before you go. There are a number of countries that provide legal protections to those who are LGBTI. Unfortunately, there are others that do not… Personal judgment and knowledge of local laws and customs before one goes will help ensure your safety.”


    While planning a trip abroad, visit the State Department’s LGBT webpage (see RESOURCES). The advice from the Department includes: “before choosing one’s international destination, LGBTI travelers should carefully consider the laws and biases of their international destination and decide how open one can be regarding one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”


    The most important legal questions to answer for your family are:


    Is my same-sex marriage accepted in this country?


    Will my same-sex partner be recognized as my spouse?

    Even if marriage legislation is similar, there is no harm in carrying papers such as a marriage license and health care proxies with you.


    Will we be recognized as the legal parents of our children?

    Without a formal adoption certificate, a country could nullify your custody, so it may be best to clear any doubts with a lawyer or contacting the embassy at your destination.


    TIP: leave a copy of all documents with relatives or friends back home. In case the documents you take on your trip get lost or stolen, they can easily send you a copy.



    Despite dramatic increases in the visibility and acceptance during our lifetimes, being LGBT still means being treated differently in a surprising number of situations and personal interactions.


    As many of us have experienced, the logistics of travel require a lot of interacting with people who are in positions of power or control, such as TSA agents, immigration officers, car rental agents, hotel desk clerks, restaurant servers, and tour guides.


    “Typically, these interactions involve some exchange of information about who is in our traveling party and how we’re related to each other. For example, just last week a server asked my partner, son (a Hispanic young man) and I if we wanted three separate checks, thinking maybe we were buddies. While we took no offense, it was a reminder that to the general population we don’t look like a family unit.


    “We’ve found many of these interactions to be businesslike: ‘OK, so you’re the dads, this is your son, got it.’ Other conversations have been pleasant—affirming, even—such as when a U.S. customs agent informed us that we now only need to fill out one form for our household,” says Steve Brister of


    Odds are you’ve already had a conversation (or many!) with your family about why you are the same as -- but also different from -- other families. But, before leaving home, consider talking through questions or assumptions you may encounter in your travels.


    As H. Luiz Martinez explains in his article 8 Travel Tips for Gay Family Getaways for “When searching for amazing gay family getaways, it is important to understand that ‘gay friendly’ may differ from ‘gay-family friendly’. Some people may be okay with same-sex couples, but may be intolerant of LGBT couples with children.”


    Whether traveling abroad, or within our boarders, being a parent means finding places that offer activities and attractions appropriate for the entire family. For many, the adult-oriented nightlife scenes don’t have the same appeal as they did ‘pre-family’.


    Similarly, “…we’re no longer comfortable -- or in some cases, even allowed -- at many gay-focused accommodations we’ve enjoyed in the past, as they focus on gay singles and couples and sometimes allow clothing-optional sunbathing and alcohol-fueled partying. The same applies to some gay-owned restaurants, as we once left a popular hamburger joint when the drag queen brunch entertainer (we weren’t warned about that when we were seated) veered into explicit language and sexual innuendo that was completely inappropriate for our teenage son,” says Steve Brister.


    [make TIP: pop] TIP: Before you book, call ahead and have a conversation with the resort, hotel, or attraction.



    Whatever our family structures look like, our best vacations provide chances to unwind together, create lasting memories, and provide opportunities to experience new things.


    We look forward to the day when LGBT parents traveling with kids will be considered commonplace to the tourism industry, our fellow travelers, and international hosts. Until then, we encourage families to be thoughtful and confidant during vacation planning, but most importantly, to have fun together!



    Travel Gay Seattle
    US Department of State

  • CMI’s 20th Annual LGBT Tourism Study

    | May 25, 2016

    courtesy of Community Marketing, Inc.


    Key findings from Community Marketing, Inc.’s 20th Annual LGBT Tourism Study have been compiled. With over 3,000 qualified, community-representative respondents, the CMI study offers valuable insights about LGBT travelers and consumers.


    According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the travel and tourism industry in the United States generated more than $1.5 trillion in economic output in 2014. Based on this data and CMI sample demographics, the estimated annual economic impact of LGBT travelers is over $75 billion per year in the U.S. alone.


    Key Findings and Observations


    Hotels: With Marriott’s “Love Travels” campaign, the company has risen to the top hotel brand recognized for their LGBT outreach efforts. Of note is that four of the top five brands had better numbers in 2015, compared to 2014. Marriott ranked number five in 2009 and has risen to number one through their considerable focus in outreach to the LGBT community.


    Destinations: Based on LGBT travel to a destination and spending at least one night in a hotel, CMI’s annual LGBT travel destination rankings remain largely unchanged in 2015. New York is again the most popular LGBT destination across all categories, followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Chicago, which are tightly grouped in 2nd place. This year’s rankings did see increases for Los Angeles as well as increases in Florida travel, with Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando; all being top-10 destinations.


    Seattle, as a leisure destination, ranked 12th with gay and bisexual men and 9th with lesbian and bisexual women. New York City and Los Angeles were ranked in the 1st and 2nd tiers respectively for business travel. Seattle and cities such as Atlanta, Boston, Denver, and Portland, were ranked in the 3rd tier.


    Activities: LGBT-specific activities while on vacation is not diminishing among LGBT Millennials. 60% of LGBT Millennials indicated having visited a gay bar while on vacation in the past year, and 56% visited an LGBT neighborhood while on vacation. These percentages were equal to or better than Generation X and Baby Boomer LGBTs. Attending a Pride event while on vacation was especially popular among Millennials, particularly when compared to Baby Boomers.


    Shared Economy: For the first time, the survey tested questions on shared economy accommodations. The report indicated that lesbians (21%) were more likely than gay men (17%) to have actually booked via a rental-by-owner or shared economy website in the past year (e.g., Airbnb). LGBTs primarily book shared economy accommodations for cheaper rates (59%) and to be in a specific neighborhood (56%). 20% of LGBTs who booked shared economy rooms in the past year did it just because they were curious.


    Economic Impact: 60% of LGBT participants who spent a night in a shared economy accommodation, if unavailable would have just stayed in a hotel/motel in the area instead. However, 40% indicated that the option of a shared economy accommodation encouraged them to either stay at a destination longer or stay in a paid accommodation instead of a family/friend stay.


    LGBT-Dedicated Communications: Some tourism bureaus offer specific information for LGBT travelers on their website. In the survey, 90% of LGBT participants indicated that the existence of LGBT information on tourism bureau websites makes them feel that the tourism bureau is LGBT-friendly, 86% indicated that a tourism website should offer a specific LGBT page of information and some same-sex imagery throughout the website.


    LGBT Families: Among most LGBT parents, “family-friendly” is more important than “LGBT-friendly.” When asked which is more important, a child-friendly destination or an LGBT-friendly destination, 68% choose child-friendly. Similarly, 64% choose a child-friendly hotel over an LGBT-friendly hotel. This percentage has slowly increased each year. LGBT-friendly priority dropped 10% for destinations and 5% for hotels over the three-year period.


    LGBT Grandparents: The survey discovered the long overlooked group, LGBT grandparents. 56% of LGBT parents with a child over age 18 have grandchildren, and 28% indicated going on a vacation with their grandchildren in the past year. Multi-generational trips is an emerging market for many destinations, and LGBT will finally be included in this discussion.

  • GSBA Endorses I-1491

    | May 18, 2016

    GSBA is proud to support Initiative 1491, to help prevent gun violence tragedies in our community. Past violence is the best indicator of future violence. I-1491 will give families and law enforcement an important tool to break that chain by allowing them to petition a court for an “Extreme Risk Protection Order,” which temporarily restricts a person’s access to firearms if the court finds that they are a danger to themselves or others. More than half of mass shooters and 80% of suicide victims show signs of dangerous behavioral changes before acting. Family members and law enforcement are the best-placed to see these signs and take action, preventing a crisis from becoming a tragic statistic. 

    GSBA is committed to building a safe, prosperous state for the LGBT community and those who support equality for all. Passing I-1491 into law will help to do just that for small business owners, our families, children, friends, and neighbors. 

    For more information, visit:

    Full text of I-1491 
  • GSBA Staff Appointed to Mayor's Affordability Committee

    | May 06, 2016

    GSBA Public Policy & Communications Manager Matt Landers has been appointed to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee. This committee will make recommendations on addressing the rising cost of commercial space for small businesses, develop opportunities to activate public spaces for entrepreneurs, and identify strategies to expand economic development throughout Seattle.

    “Small businesses are essential to the economy our city,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Many of Seattle’s greatest companies got their start in small, affordable storefronts, garages, food trucks, or as simple coffee shops. We will work with the small business community to encourage affordable spaces for existing businesses and develop new opportunities for those ready to launch their dream.”

    During the current period of economic growth, new commercial space in Seattle often is dedicated for larger tenants, real estate values have increased commercial rents, and existing commercial properties have been redeveloped, displacing smaller businesses. The committee will review existing City policies and recommend steps to encourage development and preservation of commercial spaces. Recommendations will be made to the Mayor by September of this year.

    “We have a business climate that is the envy of cities around the world,” said Brian Surratt, Director of the Office of Economic Development. “We cannot take today’s economic success for granted. By ensuring that the entrepreneurs of tomorrow have affordable options today to start businesses, we can be a city of opportunities and a world-class startup hub for all.”

    The group will consider a broad range of solutions to commercial affordability, including incentivizing the construction of smaller commercial spaces, further activation of public spaces to the benefit of food trucks and other small businesses, and inclusion of affordable commercial storefronts in more affordable housing projects.

    The committee includes business owners, commercial real estate stakeholders, and business development advocates. Members include:

    • Liz Dunn, Dunn & Hobbes
    • Maiko Winkler-Chin, Seattle Chinatown International District PDA
    • Sam Farrazaino, Equinox Development Unlimited
    • John Chelico, JSH Properties
    • Don Blakeney, Downtown Seattle Association
    • Frank Gross, Thunder Road Guitars
    • Solomon Dubie, Café Avole
    • Susanna Tran, West Coast Commercial Realty
    • Dennis Comer, Brown Sugar Baking
    • Mariela Fletcher, MANILA MANILA Asian Retail Store and Food to Go
    • Mark Morel, Morel Industries
    • Tam Nguyen, Tamarind Tree and Long Provincial
    • Karen True, Alliance for Pioneer Square
    • Shanti Breznau, independent retail recruitment consultant
    • Megan Jasper, Sup Pop Records
    • Matt Landers, Greater Seattle Business Association
  • Discrimination Is Not a Washington Value

    | Apr 29, 2016

    Discrimination is not a Washington value.

    For more than 10 years our laws have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. But now, signature gatherers are gathering voter signatures on I-1515, a ballot initiative to repeal Washington's legal protections for our transgender neighbors, family and friends.

    Under no circumstances can we let a discriminatory, anti-LGBT initiative like I-1515 undermine the values that make Washington such a great place to live, work, and raise a family. 

    That's why, today, GSBA is proud to help launch Washington Won't Discriminate-the broad-based coalition of law enforcement officers, clergy, sexual assault prevention groups, businesses and many others in opposing I-1515 and protecting freedom, equality, and respect for everyone. 
    If you agree that discrimination has no place in Washington, add your name now to stand with the the No On I-1515 campaign.

    Opponents of LGBT rights are spinning the same tired lies that have been peddled elsewhere-from North Carolina to Mississippi-that non-discrimination laws threaten privacy and safety, but the truth is I-1515 will do nothing to make us safer. We've protected gay and transgender people from discrimination in Washington for 10 years, with no increase in public safety incidents as a result. 

    Unfortunately, I-1515 could make things worse for everyone by encouraging strangers to confront and challenge each other in public facilities, increasing safety and privacy violations.

    WWD LogoWhile their claims may be baseless, if opponents of transgender rights can wrangle 246,372 valid petition signatures by July 8th, then the discriminatory I-1515 will be sent to the November ballot for a public vote.

    That's why we've got to mobilize a groundswell of grassroots supporters-and fast-to keep discrimination off of Washington's ballot. And that's why we need you to stand up and join this campaign today.

    INDIVIDUALS: Click here to add your name to Washington Won't Discriminate's campaign to stop I-1515 before opponents can put it on the ballot this November!

    BUSINESSES: Click here to show that Washington businesses will not discriminate!

    In 2016, LGBT rights should be non-negotiable. Thanks for standing with Washington Won't Discriminate.

    Let's keep Washington a great place for everyone.

    For more information on how your business can take action, contact Matt Landers, GSBA Public Policy & Communications Manager.