The GSBA Blog

  • GSBA Concerns About New Jobs Tax

    by GSBA Staff
    | Apr 17, 2020
    This letter was sent to the Seattle City Council and Mayor's Office on April 14.

    Members of the Seattle City Council - 

    GSBA, as you know, is our state’s LGBTQ chamber of commerce with over 1,400 mostly small business members. Programs of GSBA include Travel Out Seattle (focusing on the tourism and hospitality industries) and the Capitol Hill Business Alliance (representing all small businesses in Capitol Hill). At the moment, over 80% of our members are in crisis during this pandemic. Every day, our staff reaches out to members to hear heartbreaking stories of folks losing everything that they have worked their lives to build. GSBA appreciates all the City is trying to do to support small businesses, including the Stabilization Fund and setting up a Small Business Recovery Task Force. We know you care about our community and are deeply committed to ensuring our community will survive this health crisis. 
    That is why many at GSBA have been frankly shocked to learn about the reintroduction of one of the most divisive issues in recent City history. Just when businesses across the country are struggling to survive and when our amazing federal delegation is fighting hard to keep people employed and to support the survival of our small businesses, the City of Seattle appears to be taking the opposite approach and attacking either businesses teetering on the edge of survival or enacting harsh punitive measures against those few who are actually still able to pay and support their workers.

    We are not yet even to the worst part of the economic crisis, and already the City Council is considering policies that will place further unsupportable hardship on some of the businesses who can least afford it. Most businesses in the hospitality industry - including restaurants and hotels that would be covered under the proposed tax - have lost all of their revenue and had to lay off most of their staff. Basing a tax on their 2019 payroll - a banner year - and applying it to 2020 - the worst year in memory - is frankly appalling. As unemployment in Washington State surpasses half a million people, do we even for one moment want the largest employers to reconsider their investment in our community? Having those large employers maintaining payroll, donating to restaurant workers, supporting small businesses and hourly workers,  shipping needed medical supplies and food is paramount to our survival.

    GSBA is not an anti-tax business organization. We remain the only chamber of commerce  to support and actively fight for a statewide income tax to fix the most regressive tax structure in the United States. We strongly supported the unsuccessful efforts at the state legislature this year to create a county-wide tax that had strong buy-in, strong accountability, was written with the input of those being taxed, and would have provided a tremendous number of resources to solve a regional problem. We have supported the increase in the state minimum wage, and numerous policy proposals to strengthen workplace protections. With that in mind, we respectfully suggest the following: 

    1. Please do not take up this issue while our economy is still in free-fall. With the economy is such flux, planning new taxes during the middle of a crisis when we do not even know where we will be in a few weeks is dangerous. Entire sectors of the economy already sustained enormous losses nearly overnight, and what they will look like in weeks or months is not yet known. For example, the tourism industry alone has practically collapsed, which has hit hotels, airlines, Expedia, and so many more companies and their employees. Other, larger, companies such as Starbucks, have also been severely impacted yet has committed to continuing to pay many of its employees and contractors even while they are not working. We believe that adding a tax to entities that have - so far- managed to stay afloat, is extraordinarily counterproductive and seems punitive. Punishing businesses while they are navigating unknown waters is perilous for the economy. The goal should be to find ways to enable the economy to resume quickly and nimbly as soon as possible. 

    GSBA is committed to working with you to find revenue solutions when the economy settles and when we have moved from crisis mode to recovery.

    2. Please focus your attention on the needs of the small business that need public assistance. We acknowledge the limitations due to Washington’s constitutional prohibition on gifting public money to private businesses, but our City needs to help find a constructive way to support our neighborhoods. Small businesses are key to supporting our communities. Many small businesses provide goods and services to larger companies. Thus, while the proposed tax is currently targeting companies that have a payroll of at least $7 million, the reality is the dollars spent on taxes at this moment in time are dollars that will not be spent on goods and services that will keep the economy alive. The efforts on Monday to prevent commercial tenants from being evicted is a good example of this, and we thank you for your action.

    3. Please start planning for how all parts of our City will recover from this humanitarian crisis. We know that everyone is hurting right now, and that times will be bad for the foreseeable future. All levels of government, like the economy, will experience catastrophic drops in revenues and will be forced to make painful sacrifices. A tax on businesses to permanently fund other priorities is not what is needed to address to the emergency presented by the pandemic. The most important and direct way for the City to regain revenue on the other side of the crisis will be to get people back to work. All our businesses - small, medium, and large - need to survive this moment in order for that to happen.

    4. If you want support from small businesses, they must be authentically and credibly included from the start. This means not selecting a few specific supporters or limiting the number of business representatives on a panel that will be guaranteed to outvote them every single time. City policy has often suffered from a lack of understanding of the operations of businesses in our community across different sectors. Inclusion of those who understand how businesses work - owners, CPAs, bookkeepers, lawyers who specialize in small business issues - have been strikingly absent from recent City efforts and it has shown. GBSA is eager to be a constructive partner and help get those with the right knowledge at the table, and to help facilitate connection and communication among all participants.

    I have been a community leader in Seattle for decades. It pains me to say I am deeply disappointed that the Seattle City Council is allowing itself to be drawn into a particularly divisive battle, pitting large and small businesses and communities against each other, when we must now be united to fight one battle: COVID-19. Please don’t let yourself or colleagues be dragged into something that will harm your community deeply at a time when we need your leadership, compassion, and thoughtfulness. We have a lot of work to do to get through this, let’s all be committed to work together for the greater good – our wonderful Seattle community. Please do not support this any new head tax proposal at this time. We need your leadership now to get on with focusing on surviving this global pandemic.

    For equality,
    Louise Chernin
    GSBA President & CEO

  • Companies Pivot in Changing Business Landscapes

    by Joey Chapman (He/him), GSBA Membership Development Manager
    | Apr 16, 2020
    Every year a new word makes waves, stemming from the power given to its usage within our daily lexicons. Over the last five years, Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year list has included words curiously connected with the LGBTQ community: Marriage (2015), Surreal (2016), Feminism (2017), Justice (2018), and most recently, They (2019). If one was to make an educated guess as to what 2020 has in store, chances are the word "Pivot" will be a strong contender for making the top spot by year's end. 

    In the unprecedented wake of COVID-19, GSBA Members have taken left turns, pivoting in operational and day-to-day duties. A majority of these pivots are geared toward sustainability, additionally answering the question, "How can we continue to thrive, while making a difference?" Here are just a few of those GSBA Members helping our community by placing the word "Pivot" at the forefront of our collective vernacular.  

    HandandSurfaceSanitizerGroupShotHeritage Distilling Company and Goose Ridge Estate Vineyard & Winery
    Pivot from Spirits to Sanitizers: 
    Both companies are helping to produce hand and service sanitizers. They're not only selling the in-demand disinfectant alongside their standard spirits, but they're also giving back to "first responders, hospitals, care facilities, grocery store workers and more."  

    Seattle Opera
    Pivot from Petticoats to PPE's Seattle-Opera-face-masks
    "Seattle Opera is lending a hand in the effort to produce more masks to help our local medical providers... costume staff have made 3,000 masks since starting this project just last week. They are continuing to work under the direction of Providence Saint Joseph and expect to make another 2,000 to help with PPE needs in our region." 

    Buddha Builders
    Pivot from Craftsmanship to COVID Collective 
    From our 2020 GSBA Member Buddha Builders; "Unexpected changes come in many forms, some difficult, some liberating. We at the COVID Collective hope to capture and share art made in response to the profound changes we're all going through. Colorful paintings have appeared on boarded-up storefronts and home offices are turning into art studios. Your neighbors, friends, families and your kids may be making art. Let's get it into the public eye. The COVID Collective discovers and shares art from the pandemic."

    As we jointly practice physical distancing during what has been deemed "The Great Pause," let us all continue to pivot down the path toward what could be 2021's Word of the Year, "Promise." 

    A promise for tomorrow. A promise of a new day.
  • A Legacy of Music: The Theodore & Rosemarie Ockels Scholarship

    by GSBA Staff
    | Apr 15, 2020
    Creating a named scholarship is a way to honor a family member, to create a legacy and to preserve our stories for future generations. In 1997, the Richard Rolfs Scholarship became the first named scholarship at GSBA, and in 2020 that has blossomed into more than 25 scholarships awarded in memory of a loved one, to support a specific need, or to encourage a particular area of study.

    In many cases, students who receive named scholarships are able to strengthen their network of support by connecting with the creators of the particular fund. For scholars who have scant support from family or local community, this is an added benefit that can help them persist to graduation. Sharing a bond over a mutual interest in politics, education, music, or art can help sow the seeds of a lifetime mentorship and friendship.

    In 2016 , when Sandy Peterson along with her husband Glenn, her sister Carolyn andtouri and sandy Carolyn’s husband Steve, created the Theodore and Rosemarie Ockels Scholarship, they included a preference for a student who had a love of music. This did not mean they must be a music major; but that they should have a personal connection with music in their life, either through song or instrumental performance. Tragically, Sandy passed away in 2019; but not before she was able to connect with Tori Puoci, the first recipient of the Ockels Scholarship 2016-2019.

    On Tuesday, April 14th the named-fund selection committee gathered to select those scholars who best matched the criteria to be named scholarship recipients in 2020. With Tori’s graduation, that meant selecting a new, as Sandy called it, “Ted and Rosie” Scholar.

    IMG_5275We hope that Sandy would be proud to know that this year’s Theodore and Rosemarie Ockels Scholar is Nate Jo, an amazing leader with a love of music who is running for AS President at Western Washington University's Associated Students, the second-largest student government body in the country. Meet Nate Jo, the 2020 “Ted and Rosie” Scholar!

    Nate Jo grew up in Richland, WA and now lives in Bellingham where they attend Western Washington University. Nate is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Philosophy, Political Science, and Economics and also hopes to minor in Queer Studies and Environmental Justice. Nate is passionate about creating change through leadership in student affairs for LGBTQ students and students of color. Nate also seeks to make a meaningful difference in the world by addressing homelessness, especially where it affects LGBTQ youth.
  • How to Leverage Your Workspace to Support Health & Wellness

    by Nicole DeNamur (She/her), Sustainable Strategies, PLLC
    | Apr 08, 2020

    This unprecedented time has resulted in countless workers suddenly transitioning from a traditional office setting to working from home. As many GSBA Members already know, working from home presents a variety of challenges – some obvious, some not.  

    nicole denamurWhen you worked in an office setting, you relied on facilities professionals to maintain that space and ensure that all building systems were running correctly. Now that you are spending more time in your work-from-home space, it makes sense for you to put extra focus, attention and resources into improving the quality of your space.  

    To help your space work for you, consider implementing the following strategies: 

    Indoor air quality – The air we breathe has a direct impact on our health and wellness – both positive and negative. Studies have shown that reducing common indoor pollutants, such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), can improve cognitive function. Generally speaking, a good place to start is by opening accessible windows and utilizing fans, including bathroom exhaust fans, to temporarily flush and dilute indoor air.  

    Manage potential dust sources – If needed, clean your vacuum’s filter and consider vacuuming often-overlooked spaces, including under the fridge, mattresses and exposed vents. Reducing clutter will make it easier to spot and clean dusty surfaces, and can also help reduce anxiety. If you have pets, consider establishing a regular schedule for washing their bedding.

    Household cleaning items – Think beyond your physical space to the products you bring into your space, including cleaning products and anything with a fragrance.  Common cleaning and other household products can contain VOCs, harsh chemicals and other irritants. Take the time to review these products, research their main ingredients, and consider “cleaner" alternatives for later purchase. 

    Other high-touch surfaces – The importance of cleaning high-touch surfaces with appropriate disinfectants is at the top of everyone’s mind. In addition to the commonly referenced surfaces, consider other high-touch surfaces: toilet flush mechanisms, fridge and freezer handles, handles of water filtration pitchers, faucet and dishwasher door handles and remote controls.

    Increase natural light – There are numerous benefits of increased access to natural light, including improved mood and increased productivity. If possible, open curtains or blinds, and adjust your workspace so you have access to natural light or a view of the outdoors.  Be mindful of glare and adjust as needed to manage it.

    Electronics – Electronics, batteries, compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) and related products can contain toxic components.  Particularly as they age or if they break, they need to be disposed of properly. Take this time to gather unused electronics, including computers, phones and music players. Research how to properly dispose of, e-cycle or donate them in your area and set a calendar reminder to do so when safe. King County’s Solid Waste Division has a helpful “What do I do with…?” resource that enables you to search by keyword or category. 

    Include biophilic design – Biophilic design incorporates strategies that reconnect us with the natural world. In addition to increasing access to natural light and views of the outdoors, incorporating other natural elements into your workspace can help reduce anxiety. Add a potted plant to your desk or move existing plants to within view of your workstation.

    Digital wellbeing – Like most of us, you are likely spending more time on your devices, both because your regular work schedule and dynamic is interrupted and as a way to access information related to the pandemic. Digital wellbeing is an emerging field, and Google has produced some helpful resources on the intersection of technology with wellness. This website provides users with the opportunity to “develop their own sense of digital wellbeing.”  

    Ergonomics – Many of us are now taking a significant number of calls on our cell phones. If available, utilize a hands-free support device to help reduce neck strain.  Additionally, EWI Works has produced free resources, including an app, that walk users through a preliminary ergonomics assessment of their new workstation.  

    If you have questions or need help, do not hesitate to reach out to us at Sustainable Strategies, PLLC.

    Disclaimer: This article is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not legal, medical or any other type of advice.   
  • GSBA Catering Members Selected by Grammy Winner Lizzo to Provide Lunch for Hospital Staff

    by GSBA Staff
    | Apr 07, 2020

    The COVID-19 outbreak has had a taken a significant toll on our region's restaurant and hospitality industry and on healthcare workers, who're on the forefront of the crisis. During these dark times, we have also seen an outpouring of generosity from across the state and country. Businesses and local nonprofits have stepped up to provide much needed relief to populations most impacted by the pandemic.

    IMG_5031As news of the outbreak spread, organizations around the world began canceling events - an important move to promote public health, but one that devastated local catering businesses. Some GSBA Tourism & Hospitality Members have reported that as much as 80-90% of their events and programs were canceled in the first two weeks of the crisis. That’s why GSBA was thrilled to get a call from GSBA Ruby Sponsor Kaiser Permanente asking us to connect them with local catering businesses for a tall order - lunch for hospital staff at several Kaiser locations. We introduced them to Chantel Jackson at Thyme Well Spent, a Tacoma-based catering company and 2019 GSBA New Business of the Year. GSBA Members Marination and Shooby Doo Catering were also contacted by Kaiser.

    “This was our first gig in two months. We really needed it,” Chantel told us.

    Chantel was floored at the opportunity to get right to work. She had the weekend to make the 350 boxed lunch meals Kaiser requested. While large orders are typical for this type of work, the less than normal circumstances made acquiring the necessary ingredients a challenge.

    “I was worried about getting supplies with COVID,” Chantel explained, “I had to go to four places to find all the bread!”

    Chantel’s tenacity won over the circumstances, and after a quick tour around the city’s grocery stores, she was able to gather all the necessary ingredients. The next step was delivery.

    “It was Monday afternoon and raining. I had everything packed in lunch bags in my car, and I was parked next to other caterers with personalized vans and boxes—it was hard not to compare my business to theirs.”

    Chantel delivered 350 boxed lunches to Kaiser's Capitol Hill Campus, while Marination catered to Kaiser's Downtown Seattle and Rainier Valley locations, and Shooby Doo Catering provided lunch for four Snohomish County hospitals.

    The next day, the Thyme Well Spent crew was thrilled to find out the order came from20190720_Lizzo_at_2019-CHBP_14 global superstar Lizzo, who also purchased lunch for hospital staff at UW Medical Center and several in her hometown of Minneapolis. Lizzo's mantra of self-love and inclusivity, and unwavering allyship towards the LGBTQ community has made her a welcome figure in the Seattle area. Her headlining performance at last summer's Capitol Hill Block Party earned rave-reviews and went down as one of the largest attended performances in festival history.

    Chantel explained what this news meant to her, “I feel close to Lizzo – my business was chosen and elevated into the same kind of area as her. This experience makes me feel like I am closer to my destiny.”

    With the threat of COVID-19 possibly extending into the lucrative summer months, catering businesses are justifiably worried about their future. Nevertheless, Chantel remains optimistic. In February, Chantel saw a large boost in business after the 39th Annual Business & Humanitarian Awards: Thrive Together, where Thyme Well Spent was honored as the 2019 New Business of the Year recipient. Immediately following the event, she booked several events. By the end of the month, many of those events had been cancelled as the outbreak progressed.

    “We went from 1000 to 8000 followers on social media after (the awards dinner)," Chantel said. "I’ve been using quarantine as an opportunity to learn how to better engage with the community on our online platforms.”

    After the COVID-19 pandemic passes, Thyme Well Spent hopes to look for a retail space to open a soup and sandwiches storefront. 

    (TOP PHOTO: Chantel teaches a Thyme Well Spent intern how to make cucumber and red pepper salad at her kitchen in Tacoma's Hilltop neighborhood. Photo by Cade Schmidt, GSBA. BOTTOM PHOTO: Lizzo performs at Capitol Hill Block Party in July 2019. Photo Credit Alex Crick,
  • Business Webinar Library

    by GSBA Staff
    | Apr 02, 2020
    We know that all of us have been deluged with webinars and online town halls as we look for summaries of new programs, answers on how to get resources fast, and figure out what we are eligible for.

    There is a wide range of chambers, business associations, and nonprofits who have a broad knowledge of the many issues facing small businesses, nonprofit employers, sole proprietors, independent contractors, and other establishments. GBSA has compiled this list of partner organizations and their resources so that you can find the right answers for your workplace on your schedule. Many of these organizations have ongoing webinar series, and many of these webinars are recorded for on-demand viewing.

    We have tried to indicate the date of airing, so that you know if you need to register for a future event or if you need to be aware of when the information presented on a recorded webinar was current.

    GBSA Rapid Response Webinar Series
    Your Legal Questions. LIVE Answers (Recorded on March 31)
    Ask a CPA (Recorded on April 7)
    Ask an (Un)Employment Attorney (Recorded on April 14)
    Ask the SBA: Pt. I (Recorded on April 21)
    Self-Care During a Pandemic (Recorded April 28)
    Supporting Health While Working From Home (Recorded May 5)
    Ask the SBA: Pt. II (Recorded May 12)
    Global Impact with OutRight Action International (Recorded May 19)
    Seattle Erupts, Mayor's Office Responds (Recorded June 2)
    Police Accountability (Recorded June 9)
    Keeping Watch on the Pandemic (Recorded June 16)
    PPP Loan Forgiveness (Recorded June 23)
    Staying Open on Capitol Hill (Recorded June 30)
    Retail & Office Space in the New Normal (Recorded July 14)
    Immigration Under Attack (Recorded July 21)
    Reopening Hospitality & Tourism (Recorded August 4)
    Playbook for Small Business Recovery (Recorded September 1)

    Keeping It Real, GSBA's signature wellness series
    Embracing Anxiety (Recorded May 14)
    Are You Taking Advantage of Fear? (Recorded May 21)
    Are We Allowed to Be Joyful? (Recorded May 28)
    Black Health Under Threat (Recorded June 4)
    How to do White Allyship (Recorded June 11)
    Put Your Money With Your Beliefs (Recorded June 18)
    The Now Visible Burden of Womxn (Recorded June 25)
    Is School Still a Thing? (Recorded July 2)
    Being Asian in 2020's America (Recorded July 9)
    The Unspoken Reality of Trans Health (Recorded July 16)
    The Fight Against Fake News (Recorded July 23)
    Exploring How COVID-19 Shifts Our Relationships (Recorded August 13)

    GSBA Civic Engagement Series
    Out on the Campaign Trail (Recorded June 15)
    The Importance of Elections (Recorded July 20)

    Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce: #WeGotThisWA Webinar Series
    Navigating State Unemployment, Deferring Expenses, Managing Business Expanses
    Managing Business Expenses (Recorded April 2)

    WA Small Business Development Center (Event page)
    SBA EIDL Loans and CARES Act
    Business Survival Strategies
    NGLCC - National LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce
    Economic relief for small businesses (Recorded March 26)

    NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business)
    How small businesses can react to the pandemic, updates on federal legislation, federal financial resources.

  • Travel Out Seattle, From Home

    by GSBA Staff
    | Mar 29, 2020
    Seattle's tourism industry is facing unprecedented challenges in the wake of COVID-19. With Governor Inslee's announcement of "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order, all Washingtonians are required to stay home unless pursuing an essential activity. While we are all practicing physical distancing, GSBA has curated a way you can support the tourism industry during this difficult time, fending off the stir-craze by touring Seattle from home with GSBA Members. 

    az190903-0590_3a41f671e85a5cdee99cc1724d904ba9Space Needle Virtual Tour: Experience thrilling heights from home, while taking-in 360° live-webcam views from Seattle's most iconic structure - including the famous rotating glass floor below your feet.

    5th Ave Theatre: The stage might be dark and the ghost light is on, but you can still get your Seattle musical theatre fix. One of America's leading musical theater companies, The 5th, is very active online! Hosting their own March Madness Musical Theatre Edition or hosing a special cloud editions of their Fridays @ The 5th featuring beloved artists. 

    Pacific Science Center: Bring the classroom home with Pacific Science Center's collection of at-home science experiments, live science shows, featured videos, and more.

    Woodland Park Zoo: Watch live web cams of tigers, bears, and bats, oh my! 

    Seattle Symphony: During these challenging times, the Seattle Symphony will continue sharing performances to provide strength, comfort, and joy through video rebroadcasts and livestreams throughout the month. These broadcasts have been seen by over 130,000 viewers around the globe.

    otter_800x500Seattle Aquarium: Rivers and otters are bound to cheer anyone up. Check out the Seattle Aquarium's live cams of the incredible animals home to the beautiful waters of the Pacific Northwest. You can also keep your kids busy and help them learn about conservation with interactive online activities from March 30 to April 3 during Sea Otter Week.

    Seattle Art Museum: Dive deep into the SAM's vast, globally-celebrated collection - such as John Grade's large-scale installation Middle Fork and visiting exhibits from legendary artists like Georgie O'Keefe through interactive virtual tours, video presentations, and more.

    In addition, our friends at Visit Seattle have put together a list of virtual tourism activities and livestreams, including additional ways to enjoy Seattle from the comfort of your own home. 

    When virtually visiting each of these iconic Seattle tourist destinations, be sure to give a  look for a donation link to give back. More than ever before, now is the time to support Seattle's hospitality and tourism industry.
  • Supporting LGBTQ Students at Seattle Public Schools

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy & Government Relations Director
    | Mar 25, 2020
    The Seattle Public School Board of Director is introducing Resolution 2019/20-28 on March 25, which would affirm the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ students, staff, and community. The Resolultion will be introduced today, and then voted on by the Board at their Tuesday, April 7 meeting. We encourage everyone to write to to express their support for these efforts to affirm and protect LGBTQ students and include LGBTQ people in the curriculum.

    The letter GSBA wrote expressing our support for the resolution is below:

    Members of the Seattle School Board,

    I am writing to express our support of Resolution 2019/20-28, affirming the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ students, staff, and community.

    GSBA is Washington State's LGBTQ and allied chamber of commerce, representing over 1,400 small businesses, nonprofits, and other employers. Additionally, we are home to the GSBA Scholarship Fund, the first LGBTQ scholarship fund in the US (founded in 1990). As a business organization, we understand that education and inclusion matter. As a scholarship fund, we understand the importance of recognizing and affirming the identities of LGBTQ students.

    The efforts contained in the Resolution are admirable and strongly supported by GSBA and our membership. If our small businesses can make the effort to convert restrooms into accessible, gender-neutral facilities with no adverse impacts on customers, we believe that should be no problem for Seattle Public Schools as well. Honoring a student's gender identity and expression is not just the right thing to do, it is also in alignment with Washington State's evolving public policy including the recent recognition of nonbinary genders on state identification. While there remain some barriers to access for identification changes, it should always be up to the individual to decide their own identity without needing it to be affirmed by anyone else. 

    Visibility is critical to the ongoing acceptance, health, and vitality of the LGBTQ community. Displays of community flags and icons are important, but even more so is hearing about LGBTQ history and diverse representations of LGBTQ people and their contributions. For LGBTQ people who are still too often shunned by their families, their peers, and their communities, understanding that they are not alone and not intrinsically damaged is vital.

    We also recognize that some of these societal changes have happened at a pace where not everyone is comfortable with topics of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. That is why we are very supportive of Seattle Public Schools' efforts to train staff and volunteers to be more understanding of the experiences and needs of LGBTQ students.

    Thank you for your efforts to ensure that all SPS students are safe in their schools, reflected in their curriculum, and respected for who they are.

  • Letter to Congressional Delegation on "COVID III" assistance bill

    by GSBA staff
    | Mar 24, 2020
    This letter was sent to the Washington State federal delegation on March 24, 2020.

    Members of the Washington State Congressional Delegation,

    First, we want to thank you for the extraordinary work that you are doing to get real help to those who need it most. As you remain at the negotiating tables for further assistance efforts, we urge you to keep the following points in mind:

    • What small businesses and nonprofits need most is direct cash assistance. Barring that, no-interest loansforgivable loans, and rent abatement for businesses and workers are essential.
    • If any grants, zero-interest loans, or forgivable loans are made available, create a way for those who have already applied for the SBA’s EIDL loans to become eligible for these better products rather than saddle them with more crippling debt.
    • Ensure that businesses less than 2 years old are able to access the same supports as other, longer-established businesses. Many of these employers have invested just as many of their personal resources into their establishment, and the length of operation has nothing to do with who they employ or the benefit they bring to their community.
    • Extend tax deferrals on a realistic timeline – the February deferral is good, but almost no small businesses will be able to pay both February and March at the same time.
    • Expand unemployment insurance eligibility and wage replacement, including gig workers.
    • Ensure that nonprofit organizations are included as employers in all instances
    • It is essential to include c6 business organizations, most especially those which serve LGBTQ and other minority communities, if we are to reach the most vulnerable small businesses during this health and economic crisis.  Nonprofit 501c6 business organizations, as well as 501c3 charitable organizations must both be given resources to provide information and stability to those businesses which are essential to the economic health of low income and minority communities. Minority, including LGBTQ, business organizations, are already under-resourced and receive little public support from government agencies as it is. For populations already at higher risk of poverty, unemployment, financial insecurity, and more, this public health and economic crisis will hit them even harder than the population at large. Minority business organizations provide critical community support services just like many c3 organizations, and their expertise and earned trust that they have in their communities will be essential in recovery efforts. They drive business activity and support small businesses and the jobs they, in turn, support. Please ensure that resources are directed to the communities who need them the most.
    Thank you for your dedication,
    Louise Chernin
    GSBA President & CEO

  • GSBA Members Offer Creative Promotions for Social Distancing

    by GSBA Staff
    | Mar 13, 2020

    With their regular patrons working from home and practicing social distancing, small businesses - especially those in the food & hospitality industry - have come up with fun promotions to allow customers to support their neighborhood businesses, while also remaining safe.


    The newly-established American-style hotspot on Broadway is offering "Sidewalk Service" for any item off its menu. Just call in your order (206-557-4201) and they'll meet you at your car with their payment systems and tonight's dinner.

    Madres Kitchen

    Feed your body and soul with freshly-made and locally-sourced rotating herbivore and carnivore pick-up or delivery meal combos from Madres Kitchen.


    To make working from home easier, Amaxra will help businesses that don't already utilize Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Teams access Microsoft's six-month free trial, in addition to guidance on using Team. Click here to inquire about this offer.

    Cherry Street Coffee House

    Missing your favorite cafe go-to? Cherry Street is open for mobile and take-out orders at all of their locations, with most shops closing at 3:00 PM. 

    Ethan Stowell Restaurants 

    Starting on March 19, Tavolata - Capitol Hill will offer take-out and curbside pick-up from 5:00 - 8:00 PM seven days a week. Starting on March 20, How to Cook a Wolf, Red Cow, and Rione XIII will also begin offering these same services during 5:00 - 8:00 PM seven days a week.

    The Catering Company

    Choose from chilli lime chicken, chicken teriyaki, beef stroganoff, and more when you order dinner for the whole family. Best of all, these nutritious meals are delivered free of charge.


    Gift cards purchased between now and May will have an extra 20% added on. Mamnoon's menu is also available for delivery via Caviar.

    Hi Spot Cafe

    The Ballard-based cafe is serving up a limited menu for breakfast and lunch for take-out orders.

    Broadcast Coffee Roasters

    Order a pound or two of beans from Broadcast online, and they'll ship it to you for free! In addition, Broadcast is offering a $7.50 to-go weekday-breakfast special at their Jackson St. location. Click above to order your breakfast online, and it'll be ready to go by the time you get there.

    Cafe Flora

    One of the nation's oldest vegetarian restaurants, Cafe Flora, has put together a special menu of brunch, lunch, and dinner favorites for delivery. One of Flora's famous cinnamon rolls are guaranteed to lift your spirits.

    Indi Chocolate

    If you're hibernating at home, you'll definitely want to make sure you have plenty of chocolate in supply. This Pike Place Market chocolate shop's online store has everything you'll need. 

    Repair Revolution

    Car trouble? Repair Revolution will pick up your car, fix it up, and drop it back off at your home.

    Terra Plata

    Even if you can't make it in for dinner now, purchase a gift card above to use to use when this all blows over. Terra Plata has also started offering pick-up and delivery options, making for a perfect date-night-in.

    Cone & Steiner

    Running low on supplies? Did you already blow through all your candy and sweets? Stock back up by ordering online for pickup or delivery from Cone & Steiner.

    Two Doors Down

    Grab a burger and a growler of beer by calling in your order to 206-324-2337 and pick it up curbside. Beer must be picked up inside for age-verification, and all transactions are card-only. In addition, every Monday in March, laid-off restaurant industry workers can call-in for a free Classic Burger with fries to-go (based on the honor system).

    Crown Plaza Hotel

    If you've lost internet at home, or need another safe place to work remotely from, the Crown Plaza Hotel has workspaces available at a highly-discounted rate for up to eight hours of use. Each room includes a coffee-maker and refrigerator, high-speed WiFi, spacious work desk, and more. 

    Descendant Cellars

    Stock your cellars for your quarantine by ordering wine shipment to anywhere in King, Pierce, or Snohomish Counties, courtesy Descendant Cellars. Orders can be placed here and shipping fees will be refunded.

    Capitol Cider

    Capitol Cider is currently offering curbside pickup - including family-style menu options. Capitol Cider's menu is also entirely gluten-free!

    Elliott Bay Book Company

    Curl up with a good book during your quarantine, courtesy Elliott Bay Book Company, who've currently moved all sales to online and phone.

    Optimism Brewing Co.

    Optimism Brewing has launched an online pick-up platform for folks to order in a growler of their favorite brews, and stop by to pick it up.


    Capitol Hill-based gluten-free bakery Nuflours is open for pickup with limited hours (Thursday - Sunday, 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM) and delivery (Grubhub & Caviar, Tuesday - Sunday, 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM). Online orders can be made anytime.

    Marination & Super Six

    Marination & Super Six's delectible caramel sauce is a must for anyone working from home with a bit of a sweet tooth. Their online store carries limited dry goods, merch, gift cards, and their famous coconut cream pie can also be ordered for pickup at Super Six.


    Ordering delivery has never been easier with Tulio providing 20% off phone-in delivery and a 25% additional boost to any gift card purchase - making any $100 gift card $125.

    If you're a GSBA Member and are offering a current promotion to support your business during the COVID-19 outbreak, send us the information about your promotion here to be featured.

    This story was written using information from Intentionalist, Seattle Met, and various GSBA Member submissions.

  • Letter to WA Congressional Delegation on COVID-19 Relief

    by GSBA Staff
    | Mar 11, 2020
    This letter was sent on March 11, 2020.

    Members of the Washington State congressional delegation,

    As Washington State’s LGBTQ and allied business association we wanted to share the dire situation that so many of our 1,400 businesses are currently facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. We understand that social distancing is critical to contain and slow the spread of the virus, but the effective full stop of the entire economy is having an existential crisis on our small businesses. We have never faced a situation like this before – this is worse than the Boeing downturn, the dotcom bust, 9/11, and the Great Recession. Nearly overnight our economy has stopped, and it will have tremendous ripple effects across our society.

    We are urging you to do all you can to get cash assistance in the hands of our small businesses as soon as possible. Due to the particulars of Washington State’s constitution, the State and localities are unable to offer this kind of assistance; putting this enormous responsibility on our federal government. As you will see below, many of our businesses will not survive the next two weeks, the length of time it is estimated that SBA loans will take to get to market. Please help Washington’s small businesses find relief with no-interest forgivable loans, grants, and other immediate and material forms of assistance. SBA loans currently are focused on microbusinesses of 5 or fewer employers. These businesses certainly need the assistance fast, but it also leaves out large numbers of businesses who employ a great deal of people, such as restaurants and hospitality oriented businesses. 

    Regarding the attempts to pass a paid sick leave bill in the Senate, please ensure any financial resources will include both relief for workers and the owners of small businesses. The small businesses are teetering on the brink of disaster right now, and without government support, will not be able to survive or recover on their own. Please don’t give conservatives talking points about the federal government hurting small business. This is the time for your leadership to ensure that our federal agencies, and federal funding and strong federal support steps up to prevent the collapse of our small business economy.

    Nothing more clearly demonstrates the terrifying scope of this small business crisis than reading the words from GSBA’s small business members. 

    Thank you,
    Louise Chernin
    President & CEO

  • COVID-19 Resources for Businesses & Employers

    by GSBA Staff
    | Mar 09, 2020
    With Washingtonians opting to stay in during the coronavirus outbreak, small businesses have been absorbing the impact. King County, the City of Seattle, Governor Jay Inslee, and other entities have announced resources to help support businesses during this difficult time. We've compiled them all here, and will continue to update this list as additional resources and services are made available.

    GSBA is here to help. If you have any questions about resources for your business or employees, email or call us at 206-363-9188.

    • Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced an initial relief package for small businesses which includes deferral of business and occupation taxes, expansion of the Small Business Stabilization Fund, Relief for Utility Payments, and more. Click here to learn more.

    As a safety precaution due to the coronavirus outbreak, the GSBA office will be closed this week, from Monday, March 9 until Friday, March 13. All GSBA staff members are currently working from home and available via email. We have also made the decision to postpone GSBA events until April with regards to the safety of our community. These events include:     

    Monday, March 9 - Business Empowerment Workshop: Art of the Business Pitch
    Tuesday, March 10 - Young Professionals with Pride
    Thursday, March 19 - Business Lunch & Learn
    Friday, March 20 - Breakfast & Benefits: New Member Orientation
    Thursday, March 26 - T Time: Visibility
    Monday, March 30 - Seattle Entrepreneurial Women
    Tuesday, March 31 - Business Empowerment Workshop: TRANSparent Inclusion

    We are currently reaching out to GSBA Members to understand how the coronavirus has impacted their businesses, learn more about their needs, and develop strategies to support our small business community during this difficult time. Please contact us hereto share out this situation has impacted you and your business.

    Please subscribe to our weekly newsletter, follow us on Facebook, and Twitter to receive updates about any changes to upcoming GSBA programs. We will also be sharing information and resources to support small businesses as this situation develops.
  • Last Week of the 2020 Legislative Session

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy & Government Relations Director
    | Mar 09, 2020

    This coming Thursday, March 12 is scheduled to be the final day of the 2020 Legislative Session in Olympia. Cut-off dates have all come and gone, and now there are just a few bills waiting to be reconciled between the two chambers of the legislature. This means that both chambers have to agree on amendments that have been made during the process. Here is a list of bills that are still moving forward and their current status as of Monday morning:

    Signed by the Governor!
    Nikki Kuhnhausen Act (HB 1687) banning trans-panic and gay-panic defenses

    Awaiting the Governor's Signature
    HIV modernization bill (HB 1551)
    Study on barriers to access of the Death With Dignity Act (HB 2419)
    Ban on hair discrimination (HB 2602)
    Encouraging corporations to have more women on their boards (SB 6037)

    In Reconciliation Process
    Creating the Washington State Office of Equity (HB 1783)
    Banning discrimination in healthcare (HB 2338)
    Several gun control bills (HB 2622, SB 5434)
    Anti-swatting bill (HB 2632)
    Comprehensive and inclusive sex ed in public schools (SB 5356)
    Hiring an LGBTQ veterans coordinator (SB 5900)

  • The Fight for Voting Rights Continues: 100 Years of the 19th Amendment

    by Louise Chernin (She/her), GSBA President & CEO
    | Mar 05, 2020

    Today is International Women’s Day, the day that commemorates important contributions of women in the workplace. Created through the activities of the labor movement, it was a rallying point to advocate for women to gain the vote, hold public office, ensure the right to work and to end discrimination in the workplace. As we prepare to commemorate IWD this year, we are also about to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.
    Women’s suffrage was achieved with the passage of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. For years, the drive for women’s suffrage was presented mainly as the story of middle-class white women. That story began with the Seneca Falls Convention in upstate New York in 1848 and ended with the triumphant adoption of the 19th amendment on Aug. 26, 1920, which resulted in the single largest extension of democratic voting rights in American history.
    But this story, is not the full story. It has taken decades, but we are finally recognizing that women of color - especially Black women - were excluded from the majority, white-led suffrage organizations and marginalized in the early histories of the movement - if they were mentioned at all. And after the amendment, which declared only that states could not discriminate in voting based on sex, millions of women of color were still barred from the polls. Most Black women in the South - like Black men - were blocked by poll taxes, literacy tests and other racial barriers. Native Americans and Asian immigrants were largely excluded from citizenship entirely.
    Today, 100 years later, voter suppression is alive and well. Whether closing polling places, requiring ID’s or removing names of registered voters, we are facing a grave threat to the most fundamental right in a democracy, the right to vote. What can you do? Please ensure you are registered and ask others if they are registered to vote; then, remind them to vote.
    In Washington, thanks to our commitment to civic engagement, it is easy to register, which can be done right up to the day you vote. We must also support candidates nationwide that will work to strike down unfair voter laws. As we prepare to vote in this next presidential election, it is critical that we ensure the leader in the White House is someone who respects the rule of law and will appoint judges who also respect the law and have a commitment to fair voting laws.
    These are challenging times, it is so easy to feel down and hopeless. But, activism is the antidote to civic despair. When you surround yourself with good people who care about a creating a fully inclusive world, it lifts your spirits and energizes you to do more. 
    At GSBA, we know one easy way to make a difference is to make sure your bank statement reflects your values and that you are intentional in where you spend your money, by supporting women, minority, and LGBTQ, locally owned businesses. It is one sure way of keeping your community strong.
    For equality,

    Louise Chernin (She/her)
    GSBA President & CEO
  • Resources to Protect Yourself, Your Family, & Your Business from COVID-19

    by Louise Chernin (She/her), GSBA President & CEO
    | Mar 03, 2020

    UPDATE: Friday, March 6's Breakfast & Benefits: New Member Orientation and Tuesday, March 10's Young Professionals with Pride have been rescheduled with the regards to the safety of our community. Please subscribe to our weekly newsletter, follow us on Facebook, and Twitter to receive updates about any changes to upcoming GSBA programs.

    The topic on everyone’s mind is the coronavirus (COVID-19). All of us in GSBA are monitoring the situation closely and will send out information and updates on scheduled events on an ongoing basis. All decisions will be based on how best to ensure the safety of our staff, our members, and all who attend our programs. At this time, we have no immediate plans to cancel any programs and we are fully staffed, understanding that this status can change at any time.
    As our community knows all too well, anytime there is a disease outbreak, there is a tendency to scapegoat. Please remember that anyone can transmit or become infected with a virus. No one group of folks is responsible or should ever be targeted as the cause of a disease outbreak. For additional information on how to prevent and respond to stigmas and the spread of misinformation regarding this virus, click here.
    Currently, the risk to the general public is low due to the unlikelihood of exposure to the virus. Risk of exposure is elevated for healthcare workers, people who have had close contact with persons with COVID-19, and travelers returning from affected international locations (China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, Japan, and Hong Kong).
    Below are the recommendations from the Washington State Department of Health on how to respond in your daily life:
    • Wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.
    • Stay home when you’re sick.
    • If you are sick and wondering what to do, call your healthcare provider before you go to a clinic or emergency room.
    • Show compassion and support for individuals and communities most closely impacted and anyone who might be sick.
    • Find more resources here.
    This is an evolving situation with information changing frequently. The best
    source of information for you and your family to keep up to date is through Seattle & King County Public Health. They've put together a website on all things coronavirus here. Folks can also use this link to sign up to receive email alerts as updates on the situation are released.
    In addition, we encourage all business leaders to take steps to protect their business, employees, and customers. King County Public Health has prepared a step-by-step guide to help all businesses put plans in place for potential impact.
    On Friday, March 20, GSBA Member Brad Kreuger of Success Beyond Luck will lead a free webinar to help businesses understand possible long-term impacts and how to prepare for them.
    If you have questions, you can call the Washington State Department of Health at 1-800-525-0127 and press #. You can also stay up to date by following the department on Twitter or Facebook.
    We must remain vigilant not to allow misinformation about COVID-19 to become a reason to discriminate, harass or target anyone group. The best way to address bias is to not engage in it and speak out when you witness anyone being unfairly harassed or discriminated against. Now, as always, is the time for compassion, staying informed and using common sense over irrational, fear based behavior.
  • At Work for You in Olympia

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy & Government Relations Director
    | Mar 02, 2020
    The first two months of the year are always a busy time for policymakers. With Washington nearing the end of its 2020 short session, the Legislature has been working at a feverish pace holding hearings and passing bills. GSBA strives hard to represent the voices and views of our diverse membership at all levels of government, with a strong and experienced advocacy team. Our contract lobbyist, Susie Tracy, is on the ground in Olympia working with legislators every day. Matt Landers, our Public Policy & Government Relations Director, works both in Seattle and Olympia, and across the Evergreen State. And of course, our President & CEO Louise Chernin is seemingly everywhere at once. The GSBA Policy Council, comprised of dedicated and passionate advocates, meets weekly to keep on top of the busy agenda.

    IMG_9398With about two weeks left in the 2020 legislative session, GSBA is very happy with the progress of many of the bills that we have endorsed. We are most excited about the passage of HB 1687 - the Nikki Kuhnhausen Act - banning the use of panic defenses, where a victim’s identity is used to justify violent assaults against them. This bill is named for the young transwoman murdered last summer in Clark County, in an attack that police believe occurred after her killer learned of her gender identity. This bill has been approved by both the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan majorities, and now moves to the Governor for his signature.

    Several other LGBTQ-related bills are making good progress, including the HIVIMG_9464 modernization bill (HB 1551), prohibiting discrimination in healthcare (HB 2338), hiring an LGBTQ veterans coordinator in the Department of Veterans Affairs (SB 5900), establishing the Washington Office of Equity (HB 1783), and mandating comprehensive and inclusive sex education in public schools (SB 5395). HB 2201, which would prohibit transgender girls from participating in girls sports in public schools, thankfully never even recieved a hearing.

    On the small business front, GSBA has had our eye on several bills, though they have not been as successful in 2020. The Small Business Bill of Rights (SB 5948), authorizing microenterprise home kitchens (HB 2777), and a property tax exemption to lower triple-net expenses (HB 2881) failed to make it out of committee this year, and GSBA is committed to supporting their reintroduction in 2021. 

    IMG_9410The biggest business-related bill on our agenda this year is the proposal to authorize King County to enact a regional excise tax on businesses to fund solutions for the homelessness crisis. GSBA was cautiously optimistic about the initial proposal, as it improved on several of our biggest concerns from Seattle’s previous efforts at a head tax. It was a serious regional solution to a serious regional problem, businesses seemed to be involved in the crafting of the bill that would impact them, and care seemed to be taken to understand the realities of how small businesses - especially passthrough entities- actually operate. Our Board offered conditional support provided that a pre-emption clause was included to prevent double taxation. Since the original proposal was introduced, several more versions and rumors have surfaced, including a much higher rate (0.25% possibly up to 0.4%) and pre-emption has not yet been included. GSBA continues to monitor the negotiations and welcomes the opinions of our membership on this complex and nuanced policy that we can share with policymakers.

    Other bills that GSBA has been supporting have included several gun control measures that continue to move along in the Legislature, anti-swatting legislation that increases punishments for false police reports, and bans on race-based hair discrimination.

    If you have any questions about GSBA’s advocacy work, or want to share your views on a particular issue, please write to Matt Landers. As a membership organization, GSBA is committed to hearing and sharing your experiences. Learn more about our advocacy programs throughout the year, including ways to participate online and in-person, on our website.
  • Transgender Economic Empowerment Coalition Gathers at Creating Change Conference in Dallas

    by Eli Coffin, GSBA Business Training Specialist & Grant Manager
    | Feb 26, 2020

    The Transgender Economic Empowerment Coalition was created in 2018 when community leaders across the Puget Sound came together across organizations and set out to meaningfully work together in a long term sustainable way. With each partaking organization focused around different parts of the LGBTQ community, Ingersoll Gender Center lead the way in uniting GSBA, TRANSform Washington, Gender Diversity, Gay City, POCAAN, and UTOPIA Seattle for this important work.

    creating change 2Our collective goal is to identify barriers and gaps in resources, develop resources, and identify policy solutions to move our communities out of poverty. As organizations led by transgender people and LGBTQ people of color, we are stronger together in finding solutions that address economic inequities that impact access to community connections, housing resources, affordable LGBTQ affirming healthcare. 

    This is complex, hard work. Last year we were able to send a few leaders from our coalition to attend Creating Change, a national conference to learn more about how other communities are approaching these issues, to make new connections, and come back rejuvenated with new ideas. This year, we were to secure funding for a representative from each organization.

    This year’s event was the National LGBTQ Task Force’s 32nd Creating Change Conference. The conference has grown each year, and is centered on “on innovation, justice, liberation, progressive voices, diversity, inclusion, intersectionality, and movement sustainability.” The over 3,000 attendees hailed from across the US to hold space together and grow as a movement. As we learned from each other, deepened our conversations, and shared our visions - our collective liberation became clearer.

    creating change 1We participated in workshops and institutes varying from “Moving Beyond Representational Politics: Valuing Blackness Outside of White Recognition,” “Being Courageous Together: Navigating hard conversations about gender identity, expression, and privilege in the LGBTQIA movement,” to “Nothing About Us Without Us: Today’s Advocates Update Us and Offer Perspective on History of the Intersectionality in Disability Advocacy.”

    Folks from LGBTQ organization, hospitals, student bodies, government agencies, chambers of commerce, all came together and learned from one another. LGBTQ activism is unique in the sense that almost all current social, cultural, and political issues impact our community. LGBTQ people are everywhere, in all cultures, in all countries, across the world, and throughout time. Our issues are unique to us, and are also found within many intersections across marginalized communities. When we value and truly hear those who are most oppressed - who have the most barriers to overcome in order to sit at the table - we create better community solutions that benefit all people. We are all standing on the shoulders of generations who have come before us and led the way. Even though this history has so often been white-washed, many of these fights were fearlessly lead by Black and Brown Trans Women.

    Trans-Agenda-Logo-Full-Color-TransparentThis year, Creating Change honored this important history by amplifying the voices of Black and Brown Trans Women. During the conference, national leaders from the Transgender Law Center released their new 2020 Trans Agenda for Liberation. The agenda is not meant only as a resource for trans activists, but a tool to help guide our next steps as a movement. We know we need to change the power dynamics - and that happens when we all use our positions of power to change the narrative.

    2019 was still one of the deadliest years on record for transgender and gender diverse people. Over 26 transgender and gender diverse people were murdered in acts of anti-trans hate, with over 90% of those being femme and trans women of color. This is our family taken from the world because of hatred that is perpetuated through in-action and misinformation about trans identity and experiences which allows intolerance and hatred to fester.  

    Whether you are a corporate nine-to-five professional, full time parent, student, or small business owner, we ALL need to be coming together for our trans siblings. We ALL need to do better. Trans leaders have literally put together a road map for us to do so. So let’s come together, as a community and move onward. Learn more about the important work of the Transgender Economic Empowerment Coalition.

  • Quinn Angelou-Lysaker Speaks on the Power of Black LGBTQ Literary Tradition

    by GSBA Staff
    | Feb 21, 2020

    In recognizing Black History Month, GSBA is working to amplify Black voices and histories by celebrating the undeniable impact Black LGBTQ activists have had on the LGBTQ civil rights movement, shed light on the specific intersection of Black and LGBTQ identities, and continue the crucial conversation about racial injustice in Washington State. As a part of this work, several GSBA Scholars who identify as Black and LGBTQ have generously shared their stories, thoughts about intersectionality, what Black History means to them, and about what actions make for a strong allyship.

    First-Year GSBA Scholar Quinn Angelou-Lysaker (She/her) grew up in the Mount Baker and Beacon Hill areas of Seattle, WA and now lives in Boston, MA. She attends Boston University where she is pursuing a Political Science major with a Deaf Studies minor and is heavily involved in BU's black cultural organizations. She hopes to enter the NGO sphere working on either housing insecurity or prison reform. 

    029Happy Black History Month! A word from your local black bisexual cat lady, foodie, caregiver, teacher, Rico Nasty stan, and GSBA scholar! I write this from Monterrey, Mexico where I am currently studying abroad, and this new environment has given me lots of food for thought on what Black LGBTQ pride means to me, which I'm excited to share.

    My favorite part of being black and LGBTQ has always been our ethic of interdependence. Whether that be the “House” tradition of black/Latinx trans people and drag queens, or the thriving queer spaces within historically black colleges and universities today, black LGBTQ people have always created loving chosen families. My black lesbian mother was the first person to model this worldview for me. Watching her love and prioritize her friends taught me that I have nothing to gain from competition, gatekeeping, or “cancelling” my people, and everything to gain from embracing them.

    Quinn 4

    One of the blackest, queerest things I do on a regular basis is check on my friends and ask for help when I need it. I recommend bell hook's All About Love, which gives words to this ethic of mutual support. Audre Lorde's Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism and her Uses of the Erotic are also hugely influential texts in my life. Lorde proposes a life philosophy of following our intuition as a way to reclaim our agency and humanity in small ways every day, speaking as a black lesbian whose agency is always under attack. The black LGBTQ literary tradition inspires me so much, and I hope to tell my story and offer wisdom of my own someday. 

    I think one of the best (and most accessible!) ways to celebrate Black History Month is to study up on some black LGBTQ leaders. The Combahee River Collective (CRC) is one amazing, often overlooked piece of black LGBTQ history. This black lesbian activist organization embodied intersectionality: the practice of generating solidarity between social movements representing various identities and collaborating so that we can all get free. I recommend that everyone read their statement and do some research on their work.

    Quinn 3

    Just like the CRC, Marsha P. Johnson's incredible leadership in the Stonewall Riots also teaches us that LGBTQ progress is not just granted in the courthouse, nor is it altruistically handed down by the right politicians. It is won through grassroots struggle, often by some of the most marginalized in our community. As a political science student, this radical tradition makes my heart sing with pride. My black LGBTQ ancestors didn't just speak truth to power. They spoke truth to their siblings about power, and they rose up against it. I hope to fight with that spirit every month of the year.

    I hope this Black History Month teaches you something new and sets the tone for a whole 2020 of allyship and unity with your black community members. Thank you GSBA for this opportunity to share my thoughts! I am proud and blessed to have you all on my team! 

        -- Quinn Angelou-Lynsaker

    February is Black History Month, and we encourage all GSBA Members to celebrate Black lives, culture, and history not only this month - but all year long. You can dine and shop intentionally by supporting the Black-owned small businesses in our community. Check out this guide by GSBA Member Intentionalist of Black-owned businesses throughout the Puget Sound, including several GSBA Members.

    GSBA Members can also take action by investing in regional organizations who work to address institutionalized racism, empower black communities, and ensure that Black histories are never forgotten. Please consider investing in GSBA community partner organizations POCAANUrban League of Metropolitan SeattleTrans Women of Color Solidarity Network, and NW African American Museum.

    The GSBA Scholarship Fund is one of the oldest and most active LGBTQ scholarship programs in the country. The scholarship program works to empower students with marginalized intersectional identities within the LGBTQ+ community and provides not only financial support for LGBTQ+ students, but a network of support, skills-based workshops, and a yearly three-day leadership immersion camp. In 2019, $500,000 was invested in 50 LGBTQ+ and allied students, 46% of whom identify as trans and/or gender diverse, and 72% who identify as students of color. This year, we are proud to invest $600,000 in 60 scholars for the GSBA Scholarship Fund's 30th year. Meet your scholars and hear their stories during the 2020 Scholars Dinner on Friday, May 15. If you are unaable to join us, please consider investing in our future leaders.

  • More Than a Month: Astro Pittman Calls Attention to Racial Injustice

    by GSBA Staff
    | Feb 20, 2020

    In recognizing Black History Month, GSBA is working to amplify Black voices and histories by celebrating the undeniable impact Black LGBTQ activists have had on the LGBTQ civil rights movement, shed light on the specific intersection of Black and LGBTQ identities, and continue the crucial conversation about racial injustice in Washington State. As a part of this work, several GSBA Scholars who identify as Black and LGBTQ have generously shared their stories, thoughts about intersectionality, what Black History means to them, and about what actions make for a strong allyship. 

    Astro 5First-Year GSBA Scholar Astro Pittman (He/him) 
    was born in Italy, raised in Texas, and calls Austin his hometown. Astro has lived in Seattle for over a decade, and is in his junior year at Seattle Central College, pursuing his Baccalaureate in Applied Behavioral Science/Social Work. His focus is on the LGBTQ+ recovery community, specifically those struggling with active substance use disorders and addictions. A recovered addict himself, he seeks to be a beacon of hope while helping others recover.

    GSBA: What is your favorite thing about being Black and LGBTQ?

    Astro: Communities of color have long been proud of their own separate cultural identities that aren’t reflective of the homogenous society that the White patriarchy seems to encourage. There is a strength of character that comes with being fiercely proud of - and standing unwaveringly in - your own unique identity. As a Queer man of color who defies the stereotypes that others have tried to imprint upon me, I have learned to revel in my own individuality. I have no need to assimilate into expected, predictable roles. Instead, I celebrate the parts of me that my naysayers have tried to suppress. I don’t have to choose the path that others have tried to lay out for me. I get to blaze my own trail, as so many brave souls before me have done. 

    GSBA: What’s a misconception or stereotype about being Black and LGBTQ that you would like to call out?

    Astro 1

    Astro: Many people approach being Black from the “one drop” perspective, which says that anyone who has even a drop of African blood should automatically identify with being Black more than with any other facet of their ethnic makeup. I disagree. I happen to be multiracial, and so, I celebrate my multicultural and multifaceted identities as all being equally essential components of my self-awareness and identification. I have taken from each part of me the beliefs, values, and expressions I love most, and woven them together into an amalgamate that makes me feel complete and vibrant. Part of that includes being a fiercely defiant and unique Queer man of color.

    GSBA: In what ways would you like to see people honor Black lives, histories, and experiences throughout the year, and not just in February?

    Astro: I would like to call attention to the environmental racism that many people of color experience every day. In their neighborhoods and communities, people of color are commonly subjected to poor air quality, lack of healthful foods, and toxins and pollutants. There is also the still all-too-prevalent stigma around Black men, crime, and incarceration. We know that the prison pipeline is set up to keep men of color in a revolving door of discrimination through recidivism and lack of opportunity, and once a person gets trapped in this cycle it is extremely difficult to escape it.

    We need to support young Black people, especially young Black men, being given the opportunity to receive higher education and better options for their future than the ones they often see in their immediate environments. We need to mentor and inspire them to rise into their full potential. If these young people don’t have better role models, they will not strive for and achieve more than what they see reflected back at them in their communities.

    (Editor's note: Learn more about the school-to-prison pipeline here and the fight against environmental racism in Washington here.)

    Astro 6GSBA: As an LGBTQ+ person of color, what are some of the behaviors and principles of a good ally which you appreciate and would like to see people do more of?

    Astro: I am a firm believer that the future of Queer people of color will partially rest in the hands of our allies, and so we need more of them, and we need those we have to be more vocal about standing with us. I would ask that our allies give LGBTQ+ people permission to have a different truth than the one you expected. Listen to us. Don’t make assumptions. Assumptions suggest a power dynamic of one person knowing better than the other, and unhealthy power dynamics (like slavery, incarceration and other forms of oppression) are a large part of what got us into this mess in the first place. Let us be the experts of our own lives.

    We, as fellow human beings, need to stop letting our differences get in the way, and start celebrating our similarities. We need to stop fostering division and factionalism within our communities. Although it is important that we all feel seen and have an identity and a community, these things should not come at the cost of unity with one another. If you see or hear someone mistreating, denigrating or slandering an LGBTQ+ person of color, say something! The only way these behaviors will cease is if our allies make it very clear to mainstream communities that these behaviors are unacceptable and will be stopped if they are witnessed. We are mighty when we stand united. 

    Thank you, Astro, for taking the time to share your story and dive into these crucial issues.

    February is Black History Month, and we encourage all GSBA Members to celebrate Black lives, culture, and history not only this month - but all year long. You can dine and shop intentionally by supporting the Black-owned small businesses in our community. Check out this guide by GSBA Member Intentionalist of Black-owned businesses throughout the Puget Sound, including several GSBA Members.
    GSBA Members can also take action by investing in regional organizations who work to address institutionalized racism, empower black communities, and ensure that Black histories are never forgotten. Please consider investing in GSBA community partner organizations POCAANUrban League of Metropolitan SeattleTrans Women of Color Solidarity Network, and NW African American Museum.

    The GSBA Scholarship Fund is one of the oldest and most active LGBTQ scholarship programs in the country. The scholarship program works to empower students with marginalized intersectional identities within the LGBTQ+ community and provides not only financial support for LGBTQ+ students, but a network of support, skills-based workshops, and a yearly three-day leadership immersion camp. In 2019, $500,000 was invested in 50 LGBTQ+ and allied students, 46% of whom identify as trans and/or gender diverse, and 72% who identify as students of color. This year, we are proud to invest $600,000 in 60 scholars for the GSBA Scholarship Fund's 30th year. Meet your scholars and hear their stories during the 2020 Scholars Dinner on Friday, May 15. If you are unable to join us, please consider investing in our future leaders.

  • GSBA Goes Theatrically Out & About with The 5th Avenue Theatre

    by Joey Chapman (He/Him), GSBA Membership Development Manager
    | Feb 19, 2020

    GSBA's latest installment of its signature hospitality and tourism networking series, Theatrically Out & About, took place on Tuesday, February 18 with The 5th Avenue Theatre's world premier musical Bliss. Theatrically Out & About is a series of evenings which invites GSBA Members and business leaders - who support GSBA's mission of diversity, equity, and inclusion - to connect with one another while supporting local performing artists.

    GSBA extends a very special thank you to The 5th Avenue Theatre staff, and the cast & crew of Bliss for hosting us on such a magical night. The evening kicked off with a reception generously hosted by The 5th Avenue Theatre, with food and drinks provided by Cutters. Bill Berry, Producing Artistic Director made a special appearance, providing GSBA guests with a Q&A around the creation of Bliss. Bill was accompanied by Corporate and Group Sales Manager Chad Biesman and Director of Marketing Chris Marcacci, who shared about The 5th Avenue’s theatrical season ahead and ticket opportunities extended to GSBA members at a discounted rate.

    Created at the 5th, Bliss is the tale of four royal sisters—a warrior, a pop diva, an animal056A2003 whisperer, and a science whiz—determined to take charge of their own futures. Brilliant, unique, and blessed with killer voices, these sisters set out in search of their destinies… only to find that “happily ever after” is theirs to decide. GSBA guests discovered our “bliss” at The 5th, and you can too! The 5th Avenue Theatre is generously offering 25% off tickets to this season's locally-produced shows and 20% off tickets to national Broadway tour shows to GSBA community members. Just visit and enter the promo code: GSBA to purchase your tickets. Bliss runs till February 23rd.

    056A2002Be sure to use promo code: GSBA to purchase your tickets for the upcoming musical at The 5th Avenue Theatre, Sister Act – running March 13 – April 5, 2020.

    GSBA’s spring installment of Theatrically Out & About, scheduled for Wednesday, April 29, when we will gather at ArtsWest in West Seattle to witness the debut of Alex & Alix.

    If you are interested in attending a GSBA Theatrically Out & About, email Joey Chapman, GSBA Membership Development Manager at for more details and exclusive invitations.