The GSBA Blog


    by GSBA Staff
    | Jan 18, 2019

    We caught up with Darrell Wagner of Gig Roster to hear all about his company's origins and what "Equality is Good Business" means for him. 

    GSBA: Tell us about your business. How and when did you get started? Why did you decide to build your business?

    Professional_Entertainments_GigRoster_SEA-LiveBandDarrell Wagner: It started in 1983.  I was still in college and was always helping churches find musicians for various productions. So I started a little company called Musicians Unlimited and assumed I would make lots of money hiring violin players at church shows - I didn't. But along the way, people started asking me to find them a band for weddings or entertainment at a corporate parties. So I thought, “Sure, why not?”

    Over the years, this venture grew and evolved into what is now Gig Roster. Gig Roster is a talent-buying agency which services clients of all kinds across the US when they are looking for talent for any kind of event.

    GSBA: What makes Gig Roster Special?

    DW: We are in a happy business. Almost every event we are associated with is a celebration of some sort. Whether it’s a wedding, party, or a corporate event. We simply like bringing the “wow” to anything we’re associated with by providing good guidance and excellent talent, so our clients have an experience they'll always remember.

    GSBA: What does “Equality is Good Business” mean to you?

    At this point in my career, and also being in the entertainment business, we work with probably the most diverse set suppliers and artists possible. Every one of them comes at it from a different perspective, but the one thing that’s universal is they want to share their art with others. Equality, acceptance, and diversity is simply baked into our business model. It makes this sort of career easy to enjoy and easy to fully embrace, both as an artist and business professional.

    GSBA: Why did you decide to become a GSBA member?

    Professional_Entertainments_GigRoster_SEA-BandDW: Originally, it was because it was the easiest way to get NGLCC Certification. In retrospect, I should have done it many years ago. I love the vibrant community and number of ways to get involved with the most engaged and nurturing community I can imagine. I guess I should have known the LGBTQ community would be welcoming and at the front of the line in providing great things for each member to prosper! I’m thrilled to be working with the caliber of people I've encountered.

    GSBA: How can GSBA members become involved with Gig Roster?

    DW: Call us or take a look at the amazing artists we represent at If you know someone who is looking for entertainment for any kind of event, mention that you heard of us through GSBA. We’re always happy to talk to people who’ve heard of us through the GSBA community. Performing artists who’d like to be involved can simply register for free. We have all the tools you need to promote to a wider audience.

  • GSBA Partners with Springboard Cuba for Cultural Exchange

    by GSBA Staff
    | Jan 14, 2019
    When it comes to what she’s most excited to experience during this spring’s trade mission to Cuba from May 12 - 18, GSBA member Jen O’Ryan of Double Tall Consulting can’t wait to see it all.

    “I’m most excited to learn more about the people, culture, and LGBTQ+ community,” Jen said. “Being able to visit the LGBTQ+ community centers on the second day will be an amazing opportunity. I’m also excited about exploring the sites - experiencing new things is always a bonus - and of course, the Pride festivities at the end.”

    Partnering with GSBA, Springboard Cuba, a Cuba-focused consulting company, is leading the seven-day cultural expedition to look into the state of LGBTQ+ awareness on the island, culminating in the vibrant Havana Pride celebrations, which are expected to have record attendance this year.

    Spanning from the capital city of Havana to Viñales, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the excursion features film showings, cigar tastings and a visit to tobacco fields, museum strolls, and a night on the town to experience the electric Havana nightlife.

    “Cuba is one of the liveliest and most vibrant countries I've had the opportunity to visit,” said Chandler Martin, Director of Springboard Cuba. “We're honored to be able to share our knowledge of Cuba - and love for it - with the GSBA community.” cuba2

    While the trip attendees will be able to sample Cuban tourist activities such as a drive in a classic convertible along the famous seawall, this experience will take a more nuanced look at the local LGBTQ+ culture and history. For Marcos Cu-Sarmiento, this was the main attraction which led him to join the trip. 

    “I'm very interested in learning more about Cuba's approach to STI-prevention by visiting the STI-HIV/AIDs Prevention Center in Havana,” Cu-Sarmiento said. “This is very relevant to the work I do in Seattle. It's important to me to learn from other countries and apply that knowledge to our services here in the U.S., based on similar services and needs.”

    For Mattie Mooney, they’re most excited to witness the unique landscape of LGBTQ+ culture on the island.

    cuba1“What made me join the trip was the opportunity to experience learning about LGBTQ life outside of my own. Those narratives and experiences are not only important and unique but, at times overlaps with mine as a black trans queer person,” Mattie said. 

    Since some travel restrictions for U.S. citizens are still in place, travelers are encouraged to register several months before the trip, by January 23. All who are interested can read the trip itinerary or sign-up for an info-session on January 18.  

  • GSBA Joins Transgender Economic Empowerment Coalition to Tackle Disparities

    by Eli Coffin
    | Dec 17, 2018

    GSBA is always impressed by, and proud of our members who are active and ready to take the next step in gender inclusion and inclusivity. We recognize the importance of investing in diverse future leaders and are ready to work collaboratively to exchange ideas and increase visibility for the most marginalized of our community. We not only serve as a resource to help businesses become more inclusive, but also as a starting point for trans entrepreneurs that are looking to start their business in a supported way.

    teecAbout the Coalition

    Earlier this year GSBA joined forces with other local LGBTQ organizations to form the Transgender Economic Empowerment Coalition (TEEC). TEEC is made up of a group of community-based organizations which are committed to addressing economic inequities faced by transgender and gender diverse, and/or non-binary youth, adults, and families. Coalition members include GSBA, UTOPIA Seattle, Ingersoll Gender Center, Seattle Counseling Services, Gay CityPOCAAN, Gender Diversity Seattle, and TRANSform Washington and are able to tackle these intersectional issues thanks to a two-year, $550,000 Communities of Opportunity grant awarded by King County. This is the first grant of its kind in the region and is a historic investment to our transgender and gender diverse community members. Our collective goal is to identify barriers and gaps in economic resources so we can develop policy solutions, new resources, and improve access to move these communities out of poverty.

    We know working in a coalition led by the LGBTQ community - specifically transgender-led and LGBTQ People of Color-led organizations with an intersectional focus - that the coalition is perfectly suited to find solutions to address long standing and systemic iniquities. The coalition's success will be derived from centering in on the leadership, expertise, and lived experiences of low-income transgender and gender diverse, LGBTQ POC individuals with a combination of experiences including: those with disabilities, in sex work/street economy, institutionalized, experienced reparative therapy, and/or those who have been incarcerated.

    As a community, GSBA and the other coalition partners have known each other for a long time.  For many of us, this is our first time working together in an official and coordinated capacity. Being part of such a diverse coalition has allowed us to examine our own policies and improve both our internal and external commitments to inclusiveness. Participating in a group of all-trans leaders is a first for many of us, and it’s also empowering to see the people who are affected by these issues in the position to shape the future of this landscape.           

    What Comes Next

    TEEC partners are currently drafting a community survey for all transgender and gender diverse people who live, work, or study in King County. One particular challenge in doing this kind of work within our community is that we have no real data on how many people identify as transgender or gender diverse in King County. The coalition’s goal is to get a sense of not only the size of this community, but also its needs, gaps in resources, and what solutions need to be prioritized. 

    We know from research conducted by the US Trans Survey that nearly  a third of respondents were living in poverty as compared to 12% of the US population. This disparity is amplified when referring to trans people of color. This is highly attributed to the 15% unemployment rate among the trans community, which is three times higher than the national average, with trans people of color being affected four times as much at 20%.

    What You Can Do Right Now

    At a time like this, it can be hard to know where to start or how to help. There are some simple and easy things we can do to help right now. We can begin by supporting trans-owned businesses with our own dollars. As allies, we can also step up by learning how we to best support our trans friends and neighbors in community.

    Being a better ally means recognizing that need  that everyone will always be learning and that there will be no end to diversity and inclusion work. Rather, diversity and inclusion is a continuous commitment to prioritize the needs of those who’ve been continuously marginalized and left out of business and economic prosperity.

    To continue this work GSBA will be launching employer tools in 2019 to help guide corporations and small businesses as they shape more inclusive and accepting workplaces for all employees. To find out more, and to stay up to date on our progress in the TEEC, email, or subscribe to our email list. 

  • Highlights from CMI's 19th Annual LGBTQ Tourism Forum

    by Meridian Mayer
    | Dec 13, 2018
    Earlier this month, our Senior Membership Services Manager Meridian Mayer jetted across the country to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where they attended Community Marketing & Insights' 19th Annual LGBTQ Tourism Forum on the behalf of GSBA and Travel Out Seattle.

    During the forum, Meridian had the opportunity to speak with LGBTQ travel representatives from across the country and learn about the economic potential of leveraging LGBTQ businesses in tourism. 

    Obligatory beach photo
    Meridian shared some of their favorite moments from the conference, which took place from Dec. 2 - 4th at the W Fort Lauderdale hotel, conveniently located right on the Atlantic waterfront. Here's Meridian's take:

    Sessions started with an informative, deep dive into tourism statistics, led by CMI’s own David Paisley and Thomas Roth. A key, actionable takeaway was to focus on what our destinations do really well and promote those with intentionality to your target audience. They provided “10 steps” to set up a successful LGBTQ marketing strategy. My favorite was to create two lists – one of our destinations top 10 LGBTQ-specific tourism assets and one of top 10 non-LGBTQ specific assets. The goal is to identify your top assets and figure out how to leverage them with emphasis to attract the LGBTQ traveler.

    Diversity Fort Lauderdale

    Riese Bernard, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of took the stage next, and I was blown away! She made several incredibly eye-opening points about engaging Gen. X and Millennial (specifically queer women) travelers. A key takeaway was a finding she discovered in her survey, “we travel to find community we can’t access at home.” This helped me understand the why of queer travel, which is strikingly different from other communities’ reason for travel. I also learned that successfully marketing to this community requires highlighting ways to live like a local on their trip, being visibly inclusive of the trans community, promoting local experiences like museums and independent bookstores, and truly listing establishments like bars and restaurants that are for lesbians and queer people – not just gay bars for cisgender men.

    The "Fort Lauderdale: Welcoming the Entire LGBT+ Community" session was led by Richard Gray, VP, LGBT+ of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. During the presentation, we heard and saw Greater Fort Lauderdale’s diversity initiative #GreaterTogether. It was a rainbow-printed fingerprint with the words “We are all one, we are all welcome, we are all greater together”, which I loved! It was inspiring to see a city own diversity and inclusivity as a movement.

    NYC PrideNYC debuted its Pride logo, which was a creative tribute to Stonewall. Donna Keren, SVP, Head of Research Unity for NYC and Company made remarks to honor the historic events and its upcoming anniversary in 2019. It’s amazing to think back and look how far we have come, and how far we have yet to go.

    Paul Gauger, SVP, Americas & Global Leader for VisitBritain presented the “Love is Great” and “Travel For ___) campaign, which was moving! It was a beautiful depiction of welcoming LGBTQ travel in Europe. I particularly liked the “Travel for Love” portion.

    I explored the city during downtime, and zipped around on Bird scooters – fun! They were easy to use and cheap, too. Plus, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to feel the wind in my super-short hair. At night, the scooters lit up, which made them even easier to find. Fun way to explore any city!

  • World AIDS Day: A Message to Our Community

    by GSBA Staff
    | Dec 01, 2018

    Today is the 30th annual observation of World AIDS Day. Thirty years of remembering those we have lost, celebrating those who are still with us, recognizing those who did and still do the work of care and research, and renewing our community pledge to work for a cure in our lifetimes.


    GSBA was a fledgling business association in the 80’s when we started to see the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in our community. We too felt the pain and loss of losing members, leadership, friends and neighbors, and even some of our first GSBA Presidents. In a time when HIV/AIDS was devastating LGBTQ communities, before the disease even had a name, we saw our friends and neighbors rise up and offer help anywhere they could. Let’s take a moment to remember our friends and family who were lost.

    From a common enemy came new partnerships and quickly growing organizations. Northwest AIDS Foundation (now Lifelong AIDS Alliance), Chicken Soup Brigade, Seattle AIDS Support Group (now Seattle Area Support Group), Gay City, POCAAN, Entre Hermanos, ACT UP, Queer Nation, Seattle Counseling Services (open since 1969), and many more took up the mantle of caring for those who could no longer care for themselves. Alongside the almost daily sting of loss, we also saw the power and hope displayed in the simplest act of holding a hand, feeding the sick soup, or changing a bedsheet. We think about the work of Bailey Boushay House, the first skilled nursing facility in the country dedicated to meeting the needs of those with HIV/AIDS.

    Nurturing grew to activism, which formed into organization. Organization led to advocacy, and advocacy began to lead to change. Today we live in the birthplace of HIV/AIDS research progress where labs just miles from downtown Seattle are developing and testing the first HIV vaccines. King County was the first region in the nation to reach a worldwide milestone of record breaking HIV testing, awareness, and treatment. These are incredible feats to be celebrated, and is a testament to the hard work and dedication of those who have put in countless hours, days, and years to get us this far.

    There is still much work to be done, as HIV/AIDS resources are not equitable in testing and treatment. We know that communities of color and immigrant communities are among the highest reported numbers of new infections. We know that access to testing and treatment is more difficult for the undocumented community. That is why GSBA is proud to support our members, many of whom are mentioned above, who do this work day in, day out, working to provide and expand access to services for all.

    We encourage you to get tested, know your status, and do your part in the fight for a cure. Learn more about World AIDS Day and the countless opportunities for you get involved. Contact any of the groups linked above to find where they need your support. And find out how you can be involved with the AIDS Memorial Pathway, a community-driven place of remembrance and reflection at Cal Anderson Park. 

    With gratitude and hope for a better future for all, 



    by GSBA Staff
    | Nov 28, 2018
    Tell us a bit about your business.

    I'm a licensed real estate broker with Keller Williams Realty Greater Seattle, and I have a passion for working with the LGBTQ+ community. My wife and I purchased our home in South Seattle nearly tree years ago. This wonderful experience, coupled with my negative experience during the housing crisis in 2008, led me to consider a career in real estate to help people navigate these waters. I finally took the leap last year and resigned from my fifteen-year career in medical administration, achieved my real estate license, and am now assisting clients with the purchase and sale of homes in the Greater Seattle area.

    rainbowrealtor - Jeanie KendallWhat is something your business does to benefit the LGBTQ community?

    I try to approach all of my professional interactions with the intent to assist and empower whenever possible. One of the reasons I decided to change careers, was so I could commit more time to give back to the LGBTQ+ community. Last summer, I volunteered as a cabin counselor with Camp Ten Trees and it was a life changing experience. It had such a strong impact on me that I joined the organization's board of directors,plan to volunteer every year going forward, and am donating a percentage of every real estate commission I earn to Camp Ten Trees.

    What made you decide to become a GSBA member?

    I have been referencing the GSBA Guide & Directory for years, and I always look forward to receiving a copy at the Pride parade each June. After attending several GSBA networking events, it was clear to me that the GSBA membership benefits extend far beyond inclusion in the guide. When I compared these events to others I've been to in the past, I felt like I could truly be myself around the GSBA community. I felt so empowered when I attended my first Women On Top event and free to discuss the issues that are important to me. I've met many amazing community members and business owners through already through the GSBA. So as a member, I'm very excited to become more involved with these programs, events, and explore philanthropy.
  • OUTLeads Feature: Michelle Beckman

    by GSBA Staff
    | Nov 20, 2018
    OUTLeads is a members-only program where participants come together to share qualified leads or tips to other members of the group. We only allow one member per business sector, so there is no conflict of interest. OUTLeads is an effective way for GSBA members to increase their business; as you are selling and promoting your business, you stay aware of opportunities for other members in your group.
    This week, we spoke with local realtor Michelle Beckman about how her experience with OUTLeads has helped her network with other small business owners and generate leads.

    Michelle Beckman

    Which OUTLeads group are you part of?
    I attend the morning meeting in Wallingford.
    How long have you been a member of OUTLeads?
    I've been a member for about ten months.
    Tell us about referrals. Which business industries do the members you’ve done business with represent?
    Some meetings I've had multiple leads to provide, and during others, I didn’t have any leads to bring to the table. But by allowing me to send referrals as I incur them, clients are getting responses faster from my OUTLeads partners. If I were part of a different organization, I might have to worry about spacing out the frequency of my leads. I enjoy referring to my group while I build my real estate.
    Who have you referred to?
    As a real estate agent, I've referred to a window washer, architect, accountant, lender, and financial planner.
    What do you enjoy about the OUTLeads meetings?
    I'm glad the group meets early, because usually small business owners work day and night, so I'm able to fit it into my schedule easily. I'm also thankful for the attendance policy which helps motivate everyone to continue to participate.
    OUTLeads is incredible for building my small business because I typically get invited to many “business networking” events that are closer to a social cocktail event, instead of one where I can truly learn about other business, share my own work, and see the leads turn into revenue. Another reason I selected the GBSA’s OUTLeads program (besides our LBGTQ community), is that other organizations have high fees and strict rules about a minimum of leads each person is required to provide. By OUTLeads not having a minimum, it allows the quality of the referrals to be more organic and high quality.
  • GSBA-endorsed initiatives win at the ballot

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy Manager
    | Nov 20, 2018

    All three initiatives endorsed by GSBA were successful at the ballot this month! We are excited that majorities across the state agreed with our positions on these important issues.

    Initiative 940: De-escalate Washington
    After a complicated history in the legislative session, I-940 was resoundingly approved by 60% of voters. Law enforcement personnel will be given training on violence de-escalation, mental health, and first aid practices. The Initiative reforms our laws around the use of deadly force, and requires independent investigations when there is injury or death. A big congratulations to the De-Escalate Washington coalition on this hard-fought victory!

    Initiative 1639: Safe Schools, Safe Communities
    The latest gun control measure from the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, and the only one on the ballot anywhere in the USA in November, I-1639 requires increased background checks, training, age limitations, and waiting periods for sales or delivery of semiautomatic assault rifles. It also criminalizes non-compliant storage upon unauthorized use. GSBA has been proud to support each of these gun control initiatives as an issue of importance to both the LGBTQ and small business communities. As with Initiatives 594 and 1491, I-1639 passed with a strong majority of the people's vote.

    Seattle Prop 1: Families, Education, Preschool, and Promise Levy
    A supermajority of Seattle voters approved of the Proposition 1, which renews the existing Families & Education Levy and Seattle Preschool Levy, and adds the Seattle Promise program. About half of the $600 million levy will fund the expansion of Seattle's preschool program, $255 million will fund K-12 programs and resources, and $40 million will finance free community college for Seattle Public School graduates. GSBA has long advocated for increased investment in education at all levels, especially at the community and technical college levels. As the founders of the first LGBTQ scholarship fund in the country, we know the value of these educational programs for the next generation of leaders and small business owners.

  • GSBA Honors Transgender Day of Remembrance

    by The GSBA
    | Nov 20, 2018

    Transgender Day of Remembrance

    Today, the GSBA joins thousands across the globe as we honor the lives lost to anti-trans violence. Transgender Day of Remembrance is a crucial day for all trans and non-binary identified people and allies, in which we not only memorialize these lives, but renew our stand in the fight to eliminate such acts and the rhetoric which enables it.

    Human Rights Campaign report this week stated 22 transgender people were murdered in the US, in 2018 alone. The report also sites that 82 percent of those killed this year were transgender women of color, and that 64 percent were under the age of 35. Last year, this number reached its all-time high with 29 fatalities.

    We ask our members and extended community to take a moment today to reflect on these lives our world lost all too soon, and to take up the mantle by committing themselves to learning and understanding what it means to be an ally to trans and non-binary people. We encourage all of our cisgender members to learn about trans and non-binary identity, anti-trans rhetoric and micro-aggressions, and to seek out new ways to implement trans-inclusive practices in not only their workplace, but in their own lives.

    Ingersoll Gender Center provides excellent training for those who would like to dive deeper into trans-allyship and welcome a trans-inclusive training for their workplace. We recommend our members take advantage of these wonderful resources.

    Today, Ingersoll Gender Center and UTOPIA Seattle are hosting their annual Transgender Day of Remembrance event at Trinity Community Church in Kent from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. All who would like to pay their respects to those lost are welcome to attend.

  • MEMBER SPOTLIGHT - Sound Publishing

    by Cade Schmidt
    | Nov 09, 2018
    Sound Publishing logo_150x80

    This week’s Member Spotlight focuses on GSBA member and media partner, Sound Publishing. Since its founding in 1987, Sound Publishing has been recognized as a trusted and award winning organization, and is also the largest community news organization in Washington State. Due to the reach of Sound Publishing’s individual community newspapers, readers from every corner or the state, from Bellingham to Vancouver, from Seattle to Spokane, have come to recognize how each individual publication reflects the local news and issues that matters. According to Sound Publishing’s Regional Publisher, Eric LaFontaine, they report the news, “with the intent of delivering local and relevant content throughout the Puget Sound.”

    Today, Sound Publishing owns over 49 publications for a total combined print circulation of 661,072 units all produced across its six separate printing plants in Kent, Burlington, Oak Harbor, Lynnwood, Marysville, and Bainbridge Island, with a main hub in Everett equipped with two press lines. The company offers services such as complete prepress, publication handling, bindery, and even mailing and transportation, Probably most relevant to GSBA members, Sound Publishing offers affordable advertising packages in all circulations to focused and targeted markets.    

    Eric LaFontaine - Sound PublishingEric LaFontaine tells us Sound Publishing became a member “to support equality,” and that when they think of Equality is Good Business™, they think of “a healthy and vibrant workforce.” That is why they were so willing to generously donate the prize of advertising for this year’s Early Bird Renewal campaign, won by GSBA member Mark Waind D.D.S. of Sound Dentistry!

    We asked Eric what was the one thing he wanted his fellow GSBA members to know, or what they could do to support Sound Publishing. He told us GSBA members could engage more with their content. Anyone and everyone is welcome to reach out and comment or engage with Sound Publishing. As member of the LGBTQ or allied community, a small business owner, or a corporate leader, your comments and engagement help Sound Publishing publiations define the community narrative. 

    We’re so proud of our partnership with Sound Publishing and we look forward to collaborating on many more exciting partnerships in the future.

    To find out more about Sound Publishing, publications, or how to contact them for services, check out their listing in the GSBA Guide & Directory online.



  • Welcome Cade Schmidt to the GSBA Family!

    by GSBA Communications
    | Nov 09, 2018

    Help us welcome the newest member of the GSBA team. On November 1st, Cade Schmidt joined the Marketing & Communications department as the new Marketing Specialist. 

    Cade at Work

    Cade attended Western Washington University in Bellingham where he studied Visual Journalism and Studio Art. While at Western, he advocated for trans and gender non-conforming student rights by collaborating with the university registrar and Equal Opportunity Office to create new systems which enabled students to have their authentic names and pronouns listed within the university’s database. Cade is a 2012-2014 GSBA Scholar.

    Cade told us, "As a former scholar, I am beyond thrilled to have found a home on GSBA’s team and am excited to help foster member relationships, create positive change, and take GSBA to new creative heights."

    Since college, Cade has been working in digital communications, merging his love of writing, graphic design, and photography with marketing strategy. In 2016, he relocated to Seattle to work for GSBA member Seattle Reign FC, where he served as the team’s content producer. Making a career move from sports to fitness, Cade oversaw marketing and communications for a Capitol Hill fitness center. While working in fitness, he became a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and began to develop training programs to help trans-masculine folks connect with their bodies and express their authentic identities through fitness. 

    When he’s not at work, Cade is a digital artist specializing in photography and design. Even though he’s no longer working at a gym, he’s remained heavily involved in fitness, enjoys exploring functional training methodologies, and sharing his passion for fitness with others. Cade grew up in Eastern Washington, where he often visits his parents’ farm. He loves his family, all things outdoors, and old-school hip-hop. 

  • Meet 127travel - Luxury and Exotic Travel at Affordable Prices!

    by Eric Moss
    | Oct 20, 2018

    Seattle summer is over, and before long the colder, darker, Seattle winter will set in. At some point our daylight will grow so short and as Pacific Northwesterners, we will begin to crave sunlight. We buy mood lamps for our desks, increase out vitamin intake, and find creative ways to warm up and get some light. At some point we all have that thought “I just need a break and a trip to the sun.”

    There is no better way to break the gloom of a Seattle winter than to seek the sun, and travel to luxurious and exotic places. 127travel is a luxury travel service specializing in VIP personal and business travel with a focus on exotic destinations and luxury hotel properties worldwide. They provide true luxury experiences at truly affordable prices. Their deep expertise allows them to offer clients bonuses and benefits that elevate each travel experience. 127travel has been open for 10 years and one of the reasons they are so good at matching you with exciting exotic travel, is because they’ve done it themselves! “I am someone with a passion for travel, design, hospitality. I travel the globe always learning and discovering, so that I can share my knowledge and experiences with my clients,” says 127travel founder Keith Wein.

    127travel Logo

    After working for many top fortune 500 companies, Keith decided to start his own business. Soon after relocating from NYC, he wanted to connect and become part of the community here in Seattle. “I felt that GSBA would be a perfect fit for all aspects,” he remembers. His firm supports the GSBA belief that Equality is Good Business in his own firm’s work, adding, “it means making everyone’s dreams come true without judgement”.

    IMG_2378 - Keith Wein127travel is a boutique firm that builds long-term relationships with their clients, which enables them to personalize and create tailored experiences for each traveler. “At 127 you’re not just an account you are a valued relationship.” You can connect with Keith online at, read his latest blogs, and you can follow 127travel on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Don’t wait until the weather changes and you think you need a getaway to your own tailored paradise. Reach out now and find out how Keith and 127travel can help you plan and travel, in luxury, at an affordable price.

  • Vote YES on Seattle Prop 1: Families, Education, Preschool, & Promise Levy

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy Manager
    | Oct 15, 2018

    FEPP logoGSBA has endorsed Seattle Proposition 1: the Families, Education, Preschool, and Promise levy and encourages members to vote YES.

    Ballot summary: This proposition would replace two expiring levies and initially fund expanded early learning and preschool, college and K-12 education support, K-12 student health, and job readiness opportunities, as provided in Ordinance 125604. Consistent with RCW 84.55, it would increase regular property taxes for seven years. The 2019 tax increase, up to $0.365/$1,000 of assessed value, would be used to compute limitations for subsequent levies, with 1% annual increases. Qualifying seniors and others would be exempt under RCW 84.36.381.

    GSBA previously supported the expiring Families & Education levy and the Seattle Preschool levy, and GSBA has supported the proposed Seattle Promise program. This levy replaces and enhances two expiring levies - the Seattle Preschool Levy, which funds high quality preschool for low-income families, and the Families and Education Levy, which provides K-12 support. It also launches the Seattle Promise scholarship program to make community college free for Seattle public high school graduates. 

    We know that high-quality preschool helps children throughout their lives, especially children from lower-income families. With approval, this levy will allow two-and-a-half thousand of our most vulnerable kids to attend preschool each year. 

    This levy also funds proven efforts beyond preschool in kindergarten through high school, including drop-out prevention, counseling, social and health services, and critical academic support. In Seattle, over one-third of our low-income students and students of color do not graduate high school. We can and must do better. 

    Finally, most good jobs now require education or training after high school. Yet, too few of our kids complete a college degree or technical certification. This levy offers our public high school graduates two free years of community college to help get them ready for the best jobs. 

    Since this levy replaces and enhances two expiring levies, the additional cost to the median homeowner is only about $9 a month. Please VOTE YES for Families, Education, Preschool and Promise! It’s the best investment in our kids that we can make.
    Other endorsements:
    Downtown Seattle Association, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Seattle Restaurant Alliance, MLK Labor Council, Moms Rising, El Centro de la Raza, Treehouse, YouthCare

    More resources:
    Campaign website
    Seattle Times: Seattle's Preschool Program, On the Ballot for Expansion, Is Steadily Improving, According to External Evaluation

  • Vote YES on I-1639: Safe Schools, Safe Communities

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy Manager
    | Oct 15, 2018

    1639 logoGSBA supports Initiative 1639 and encourages all our members to vote YES.

    Ballot summary:This measure would require increased background checks, training, age limitations, and waiting periods for sales or delivery of semiautomatic assault rifles; criminalize noncompliant storage upon unauthorized use; allow fees; and enact other provisions.

    GSBA has a long record of supporting gun control efforts as both an important LGBTQ issue and as an important small business issue. All of our communities have been touched by the epidemic of gun violence across the country. The kinds of rifles regulated in this initiative are those that have been used in some of the deadliest mass shootings, including at schools in Newtown, Mukilteo, and Parkland; at a concert in Las Vegas; and at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. Enough is enough.

    Stronger background checks, increased training, age limitations, and waiting periods are common sense regulations. Stricter storage requirements will help prevent suicide attempts, unintentional injuries, and unintended access. Initiative 1639 is a public safety measure, and GSBA strongly urges our membership to vote YES in November, as they have done for several previous ballot measures related to gun control.

    Other endorsements:
    Planned Parenthood, AFT Washington, WEA: Washington Education Association, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Moms Rising, Navos, Anti-Defamation League Pacific Northwest, Church Council of Greater Seattle, FUSE Washington, Jewish Family Service, Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, Washington Ceasefire, Seattle Times, the Stranger.

    More resources:
    Campaign website
    Tacoma News Tribune: Quit Waiting For Gun Safety; Vote YES on I-1639
    Seattle Times: I-1639 Would Save Lives and Make Sensible Changes to State Law

  • Vote YES on I-940: Improve Training, Save Lives

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy Manager
    | Oct 15, 2018

    Deescalate WA logoGSBA supports Initiative 940 and encourages all our members to vote YES.

    Ballot summary: This measure would require all law enforcement officers in the state to receive violence de-escalation and mental health training, as developed by the criminal justice training commission. It would require law enforcement personnel to provide first-aid to save lives and require law enforcement agencies to adopt guidelines for implementing this duty. It would amend the standard for justifiable use of deadly force by law enforcement, including adding a “good faith” standard and requiring independent investigation.

    GSBA supports this ballot initiative because it is an important reform to our state's laws, adding public safety measures to save lives and make our communities safer. This initiative:
    • Requires training for violence de-escalation, mental health, and first aid.
    • Provides that police should render first aid at the scene.
    • Applies a good faith standard for use of deadly force and removes de-facto immunity.
    • Requires completely independent investigations of the use of deadly force when there is injury or death.
    • Brings diverse community stakeholders to the table for the development of standards and curriculum.
    • Includes Tribal governments in investigations where a tribal person was injured or killed.
    Along with the De-Escalate Washington coalition, GSBA supported the Legislature's efforts to craft an alternative piece of legislation (ESHB 3003) along with law enforcement. Unfortunately the State Supreme Court ruled that the alternative was not properly passed, and that Initiative 940 must appear on the November ballot. GSBA continues to support I-940 at the ballot, and will support De-Escalate Washington's efforts to enact the policies proposed in ESHB 3003 next year. 

    Other Endorsements:
    King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht, Black Law Enforcement Association of Washington, Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel (ret.), Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper (ret.), Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, ACLU Washington, Alliance for Gun Responsibility, Church Council of Greater Seattle, Coalition Ending Gender-Based Violance, Disability Rights Washington, El Centro de la Raza, Equal Rights Washington, FUSE Washington, Ingersoll Gender Center, King County Bar Association, Latina/o Bar Association of Washington, Leave of Women Voters Washington, Moms Rising, NAACP Washington State, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Washington State, OneAmerica, Planned Parenthood, Seattle Gay News, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, Tabor 100, YouthCare, and many more.

    More resources:
    De-Escalate Washington campaign website

  • Member Candidate: Sen. Marko Liias

    by Senator Marko Liias
    | Oct 12, 2018

    Headshot_Senator Liias
    It’s an honor to serve as a State Senator and champion policies that put people first. In Olympia, I’ve supported essential investments in jobs, transportation, housing, and mental health while maintaining reserves and cutting property taxes—an immediate relief for families. Committed to our local values, I have fought to make important progress on responsible gun reform and pass a student loan bill of rights. 

    Among the important legislation I’ve championed, I’m most proud to have led the efforts to finally end conversion therapy in Washington State, a dangerous and discriminatory practice that has no place in our society. We were just the 10th state in the nation to pass this historic legislation that protects our youth from this horrendous practice. Proudly a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, passing this bill meant so much to me personally and as a meaningful way to represent the hearts and minds of my constituents. Additionally, I’ve worked tirelessly to address bullying and create safer and more inclusive schools and communities for our kids. I was honored to sponsor the digital citizenship bill–addressing Internet bullying and discrimination—which we passed with bipartisan support last session.

    I’m proud to represent a new generation of Democrats and political leaders – socially progressive, supportive of small business, and unafraid to stand up to special interests. I would be grateful for our community’s continued support. 

    GSBA is a non-partisan organization and does not endorse candidates. We offer all of our members who are running for office the chance to share information about their campaigns with their fellow members.

  • Find your place to influence policy

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy Manager
    | Oct 12, 2018

    “It goes way beyond empowering, and actually making me feel better about the world, that I have the ability to not just contribute to my community but to participate in a way that is meaningful, that my presence adds value.” Wendy Gillihan of Gryffin Consulting has served on many public boards and commissions, including the Washington Department of Revenue’s Business Advisory Council and co-chairing both the Seattle Women’s Commission and the Seattle Labor Standards Advisory Commission. She has volunteered significant time to advocate for women, small businesses, and other groups who are often left out of the decision-making process.

    Public boards and commissions are an important element of the civic process, and offer a rewarding way for people to get involved in the policy-making process. Just like serving on a nonprofit board, serving on a public board or commission is a common way to give back to your own community. However, rather than just helping support a cause, volunteers are working to set policy and provide important advice to their municipal, county, and state governments. “Our region is unique in the ability to participate in the public process,” adds Gillihan, referencing the especially numerous commissions for the public to join.

    Many GSBA members have served on a variety of commissions. An urban planner by profession, Marj Press is part of the Seattle Planning Commission, which is charged with stewardship of Seattle’s 20-year comprehensive plan that guides the city’s growth. “I wanted to offer my experience and skill set to the discussion about how Seattle will grow as we consider livability, equity, and social justice challenges,” she said. “Volunteering to serve in this capacity offers a depth and breadth of experiences and expertise that helps bolster the work of a local government entity.  It is personally and professionally gratifying to be able to support your community with your time and your passion.”

    Chris Brown, a member of the Seattle LGBTQ Commission, add that “When I was approached to serve on the Commission, it was a great way to give back to the community where I grew up and to ensure there is a diverse set of voices with a depth and breadth of experience at the table.” Representing segments of the public, commissioners must also be willing to be a liaison between their communities and the government agencies. Brown says that engagement between commissioners and their communities is one of the most critical ingredients for success, both for the commission itself and for getting results to improve the lives and experiences of residents.

    Who should become a member of a public board or commission? The answer is anyone who feels they have an experience worth sharing. Wendy Gillihan says that the people who contribute the most value are often those who would traditionally not be involved, or those who might hesitate to participate. “It makes a huge difference in what happens in the conversation. If you are having a conversation and people who can speak to the needs of communities who face barriers to participation like the trans community, people with disabilities, and immigrant communities, it allows those perspectives to be included when they likely would not be otherwise.”

    “Participating in this kind of thing is not what I was raised to think was possible. It can be very uncomfortable, and you might be worried about how to express yourself in a way that works in that environment, but it’s worth overcoming those fears to be able to contribute to your community and raise the voices of the disenfranchised and ignored people in our communities. You can reclaim a sense of agency, which is really transformative. It doesn’t matter what issue is of interest to you, no matter how obscure. There are boards and commissions dealing with just about every aspect of life.”


    If you are interested in learning more about openings on public boards and commissions, you can check out some of the listings below. Let GSBA know if the organization can help find the right place for you!

  • Enter to win lunch with Louise, free advertising, and more! Renew your GSBA membership before Oct. 30 to qualify

    by GSBA Membership
    | Oct 03, 2018

    If you’re a GSBA member, you have invested in and committed to equal rights for LGBTQ people.

    You are a part of a strong business community that stands for equality, diversity, and inclusion—and you’re standing up for your values in a critical time in our nation’s history.

    Being part of a strong business community which stands for equality, diversity and inclusion, has never been more important, and 2019 is a year we will be laser focused on your success and your equal rights.

    As a thank you for renewing your investment in equality, we are offering several exclusive prizes! Renew your membership for 2019 before October 30, 2018, and you will be entered to win:

    • Lunch with Louise Chernin, President & CEO of GSBA.

    • One free advertisement for your business in a Sound Publishing publication. Sound Publishing, GSBA member, is the largest community news organization in Washington State.

    • One free advertisement for your business in the Seattle Gay News. Seattle Gay News, the third oldest LGBTQ newspaper in the U.S., has a circulation of 13,500 weekly.

    • $100 gift certificate from Tutta Bella. Enjoy authentic, wood-fired pizzas made with the finest local and imported ingredients. 



    2018 _Membership_Renewal_thumbnail_600x337_v1

    As part of your 2019 membership, you can look forward the benefits of our vision combine business development, leadership and social action to expand economic opportunities for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community and those who support equality for all.

    BUSINESS IN 2019

    To meet the demand for our Small Business Workshops, GSBA is offering additional workshops, at no cost to our small businesses, to strengthen skills around finance, marketing, HR, and LGBT Certification.  


    Our Power Connect, Women on Top, Young Professionals with Pride, and Civic Engagement programs offer year-round opportunities to connect with other business leaders and public officials.

    ADVOCACY IN 2019

    The GSBA Public Policy Task Force and GSBA lobbyist are ready to represent your voice in Olympia, King County, Seattle, and around the state at this pivotal time.


    With your investment in our LGBTQ and allied scholars, our students are gaining the skills and support they need achieve graduation and attending the third year of the GSBA’s Leadership Immersion Weekend.

  • Montucky Cold Snacks: Where Unicorns, Rainbows, Tasty Brews, and Philanthropy Meet

    by Halee Staskivige
    | Sep 26, 2018

    This week, we're featuring a new GSBA member, Montucky Cold Snacks! Join us in extending a warm GSBA welcome.

    MCS_150x80In 2011 Montucky Cold Snacks founders, Jeremy Gregory and Chad Zeitner set out to create a company with a light refreshing beer that centered the company’s core values around giving back and celebrating a lifestyle that encompasses being in the moment and having fun.  Jeremy and Chad were successful.  The beer was created, the brand was established, and the giving back began. 

    The blue can featuring a white pony galloping across a sunset caught some eyes and people began mentioning how the pony resembles a unicorn and the sunset resembles a rainbow. People asked that we evolve the design into a unicorn and rainbow for Pride month and that the 8% of profits we contribute to non-profits go to LGBTQ organizations from the sale of these cans. Thus, the Pride Can was born.


    Since the development of the Pride can, MCS has been working to to raise funds for LGBTQ organizations during Pride month in the markets in which we are sold.  Our goal is to raise continuous annual funds for LGBTQ+ orgs following Pride month.

    Montucky Cold Snacks wants to inspire others to enjoy life to the fullest and give back to our communities, all while providing the most refreshing Cold Snacks on the planet. Do good. Be good.

    To us, ‘equality is good business’ means preserving rights, and standing by the fact that every person is equal.  Carrying these ethical practices is not only what we believe and implement, but also how we will continue to progress within our communities.

    Aside from the opportunity to be involved with great organizations, Seattle has been wonderful to the MCS brand, and has done a lot to help share our message.  More importantly, we are a growing company that has the resources to help the surrounding community and we are driven to do so.

    If there is anything we can do for your organization, or if we can give back, please reach out by going to our website and contacting us.  Or by sending us a message on Instagram or Facebook!

  • From YWCA: One-on-one with HIV expert, Dr. Dhanireddy

    by Salma Siddick, YWCA
    | Sep 24, 2018

    This week, we’re featuring a conversation with Salma Siddick, Content & Copywriter Manager at YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish and board-certified physician and medical director of UW Medicine's Infectious Diseases Clinic, Dr. Shireesha Dhanireddy.

    Don’t forget Stella Steps Out, YWCA’s annual fundraiser in support of YWCA’s BABES Network, this week!

    2018BLOG_YWCA_4_145x315Dr. Shireesha Dhanireddy's work is grounded in research on improving HIV care through patient engagement and adherence i.e. ensuring patients correctly follow medical advice.

    In anticipation of Stella Steps Out, YWCA’s annual fundraiser in support of YWCA's BABES Network,  I asked Dr. Dhanireddy some questions about support systems and accessibility for women living with HIV. As director of the Madison Clinic, the largest HIV clinic in the Pacific Northwest, Dr. Dhanireddy oversees care for over 2,800 people living with HIV and is this year's 2018 Stella Steps Out Honoree. 

    Below Dr. Dhanireddy provides an overview of the difference between HIV and AIDS and explains the impact of social and racial disparities for women living with HIV.

    What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?

    HIV is a virus. AIDS is the clinical syndrome that describes more advanced immunosuppression or illness that results from the virus. Despite AIDS having a negative connotation, it is important to note that people with AIDS can still become healthy with treatment and no longer be ill or have advanced immunosuppression.

    What does Washington state do well in term of HIV and STI treatment compared to other states?

    We do have more comprehensive coverage of trans-health services, HIV and STI treatment, and prevention services. We see immigration into WA state by sexual minorities for this reason. 

    What gaps exist in HIV treatment and how can we overcome the hurdles of treating women living with HIV?

    There are still pockets of hard to reach individuals as evidenced by the recent cluster of HIV cases in North Seattle. These are heterosexual, unhoused individuals with substance use disorder, some of whom engage in transactional sex. Public health interventions such as more robust needle exchange access in that area as well as medical care for HIV/STI prevention is needed for these vulnerable individuals.

    What social problems contribute to women accessing resources and health care services to assist in coping with the disease?

    The biggest is stigma. So many women I’ve seen in the clinic over the years feel that they are alone. This is why YWCA BABES Network is such an important organization. Other barriers to care include mental health issues and substance use disorder.


    Why does HIV increasingly affect African-American women?

    For some in the African-American community, distrust in the healthcare industry stems from poor historical or personal experiences which can lead to a lack of engagement or retention in care. Having culturally competent providers and staff who can connect with communities of color is important to reaching this population.

    What role does stigma play in the mental health of a woman living with HIV?

    A huge role. Stigma can lead to isolation and worsening depression. As an example, one of my patients attended Stella Steps Out two years ago. She had never told anyone about her HIV except her husband. She felt alone and had such a negative view of herself and her self-worth. She came to the event and was so inspired by the women who were positive and proud of themselves. She cried tears of happiness as she was welcomed and accepted by the women of BABES. 


    What are some ways we can improve HIV care?

    On a national level, we need more providers who are competent and knowledgeable about HIV and HIV primary care. As individuals with HIV are living longer and mortality decreases, we need to adapt to the changing demographics of the population. HIV is not a death sentence and people can have long healthy lives, have long-term partners/spouses without fear of transmitting the virus, and have children.

    We need to not only treat HIV while minimizing side effects/long-term toxicities of medications, but we also need to focus on preventative care (i.e., cancer screening, controlling blood pressure, and cholesterol) just as we would with any aging individual. Of equal importance, organizations that support individuals with HIV and combat stigma continue to be essential.