The GSBA Blog

  • Meet Northwest Immigrant Rights Project: GSBA's Nonprofit of the Year

    by GSBA
    | Jan 28, 2019

    In the midst of a turbulent political climate where immigration rights have become a divisive hot-button issue, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project Executive Director Jorge Barón chooses to take the high road.

    Schenker_Baron_Jorge 008Final“We try to focus on the things we can change, like getting people released from detention and helping people who are navigating this crazy system,” said Barón. “Then we try to focus on those victories, because we could go nuts otherwise.”

    GSBA’s Nonprofit of the Year, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), provides immigration legal services to low-income people across Washington State. Barón and his team work out of their bustling Pioneer Square office, providing direct legal services to individuals navigating naturalization, asylum, deportation, or other aspects of the US immigration system.

    “We also do a lot of work with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other crimes. Other aspects of our work involves systemic advocacy, (such as) impact litigation where we’re challenging unjust policies that are affecting immigrants and refugees,” said Barón. “We also engage in community education, which involves trying to inform both immigrant community members, as well as the broader community about the realities of immigration law.”

    Barón first found himself with NWIRP in 2006 as a staff attorney. Two years later, he became the organization’s executive director, and has steered the organization ever since. At 13, Barón emigrated from Colombia, and it was his experiences as an immigrant which sparked his commitment to human rights.

    “While I had a much easier path in the immigration system because I came with more resources than most of our clients have, I still remember starting eighth grade and I didn’t speak English,” said Barón.  “It was the first time that I felt a sense of being ‘the other.’ Over the years I’ve started to recognize how painful that rejection and treatment was. That inspired me to work on human rights issues, and immigrant rights is just a part of that.”

    NWIRP sees many cases which share intersectionalities within the LGBTQ community, and often involve LGBTQ individuals who’ve experience persecution seeking asylum in the US, said Barón.

    “We had a client who fled Pakistan because of attacks he suffered just because he happened to be gay. He had to leave his country because he didn’t feel safe there and he had actually been severely beaten because of his identity,” said Barón. “He came to the United States and tried to seek asylum… and he just so happened to be transferred to the Northwest Detention Center where he was going to have to make his claim before an immigration judge. But there’s no right to an appointed attorney for someone who doesn’t have the resources. So he was going to have to present his case on his own with no English experience while trying to navigate our complex system, in particular, the asylum statutes. So thanks to the community support here locally, we were able to take on his case and represent him. I’m pleased to say that he was released from detention and ultimately granted asylum.”

    Barón said the man, who happens to be an artist, is now living and working in Seattle, having been welcomed into the local arts and LGBTQ communities. When it comes to how the current political climate impacts his work however, Barón said that while policy changes have made this more difficult, an increase in community engagement has helped NWIRP gain momentum.

    “I think the past two years have been pretty interesting. Because on the one hand, we’re having to deal with these really negative situations where a lot of our clients are very afraid of what’s coming and the uncertainty of what’s going to happen to them,” said Baron. “But on the flip side of that, there’s also been a tremendous positive reaction from the community. I think the moment we saw that crystallize was with the ‘Muslim ban’ right at the beginning of the administration when people went to the airport (to protest). Despite the fear and the rhetoric of the administration, and their own personal risk, people have spoken out against this and been incredibly brave in fighting against the administration’s policies. So that gives me hope.”

    Join us in honoring Northwest Immigrant Rights Project during Justice For All: 38th Annual Business & Humanitarian Awards Dinner on Thursday, Feb 21 at Seattle Marriott Waterfront:

    Photo by Meryl Schenker

  • Meet TomboyX: GSBA's 2018 Business of the Year

    by GSBA
    | Jan 23, 2019

    IMG_6624GSBA’s Business of the Year, TomboyX, is far more than just a company that makes underwear. Now surpassing its sixth year as a business, the fashion innovators make “the most comfortable gender-neutral underwear, swimwear, loungewear, and activewear on the market,” according to Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer Naomi Gonzalez. Gonzalez and her wife, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Fran Dunaway, first launched TomboyX after Dunaway struggled to find a masculine-styled shirt fit for a feminine physique.

    “I wanted a beautiful button-up shirt like a Robert Graham or a Ben Sherman, but made for a woman’s body,” said Dunaway. “We chose the name TomboyX because we just thought it was a cute name. But about a week into our Kickstarter campaign, we realized the name was resonating in a such a big way that we had an instant brand. We started doing some research to try to start building a brand, and we needed a ‘hero’ product. So Naomi said, ‘Hey, there’s a lot of customers looking for boxer-briefs. So off we went.”

    IMG_6622-2As the company’s growth has ballooned over the past six years, taking in $5.4 million of revenue in 2017, its tenants of body-positivity and empowerment have remained steady. This philosophy and annual revenue have landed TomboyX on the Puget Sound Business Journal list of Largest LGBTQ-Owned Companies, since 2015, coming in at number 10 in 2018.

    “We stepped into a wide space that no one in the fashion industry has been addressing. We have a very loud and vocal community that we feel personally responsible to and for. As members of the LGBTQ community, we know what it’s like to have been outsiders or have not been in the mainstream... So when we say we have a human agenda, that’s about being unapologetically ‘you’ all day, every day, and feeling comfortable in your own skin,” said Dunaway.

    Nestled into their new headquarters above Krispy Kreme in SODO, Dunaway and Gonzalez built out an open-office workspace for their 25 employees, including quality assurance staff, customer service representatives, a marketing team, and more. Dunaway and Gonzalez expect to grow the team by at least ten more staff-members in 2019.

    “GSBA has been a great supporter of TomboyX from the beginning,” said Dunaway. “(Through GSBA) we’ve not only found people to be vendors for us and help with our bookkeeping, but we’ve also done a lot of networking. GSBA has been a great home for us.”

    Join us in honoring TomboyX during Justice For All: 38th Annual Business & Humanitarian Awards Dinner on Thursday, Feb 21 at Seattle Marriott Waterfront:

  • GSBA Condemns Reinstatement of Transgender Military Ban

    by GSBA
    | Jan 22, 2019
    Discrimination, bias, harassment and hate against people for who they are is wrong. Today, the US Supreme Court was wrong in continuing to block the participation in our military by transgender Americans. This harms not only our transgender and gender-diverse community, but makes America complicit in perpetuating hate and fear as a result of this decision. When we marginalize and deny full equality under the law to anyone, we all lose. The principles which guide our judicial decision-making are clearly broken, and the result is to not only demoralize one group of people, but it moves to silence the talent and perspectives of transgender and gender-diverse Americans in spaces where they have every right to be.
    GSBA, Washington State’s LGBTQ chamber of commerce will not sit silently by and accept a decision that goes against our most fundamental belief in justice for all. Today, GSBA affirms our ongoing commitment to fight for the equality and inclusion of our trans and gender-diverse community, as well as any marginalized community whose rights are being denied, threatened, and revoked. Our heartfelt gratitude is with the estimated 15,000 transgender and gender-diverse active-duty service-members currently serving and protecting our country.
    We encourage our GSBA members to support the local and national organizations working to elevate and advocate for the rights of trans and gender-diverse people. Read more about this case here.
    In solidarity,
  • Small Business Impact of the Government Shutdown

    by Caron Beesley, as published on
    | Jan 18, 2019
    For many small business owners, the last thing you may plan for is "what happens if the government shuts down?" As we have seen increasingly over the last several administrations, the Federal Government can, and does shut down from time to time. That means some lifeline services to small business owners may be unavailable, unreliable, or in worst case scenarios, canceled altogether.

    There isn't a lot of information out there right now about what to do now that we're in a shutdown. There is a void of information about what services and resources are out there currently to help small business owners who cannot receive information, loans, and services from the government at this time. We came across one article (copied below) with some objective analysis on this topic, and are sharing that information with you. 

    By Caron Beesley January 9, 2019
    Originally published on, an online small business loan and finance company.

    Government shutdowns, or the threat of them, have become a way of life in today’s political climate. The 16-day government shutdown of 2013 resulted in $24 billion in lost economic output and there’s seemingly no end in sight for the current one as each side battles over funding priorities.

    In this article, the first in a two-part series on government shutdowns, we’re looking at how the fallout affects the small business community.

    Here are five scenarios when government shutdowns can hurt small business.

    1.  When Your Customer is the Federal Government or a Contractor

    The federal government is the largest single purchaser of goods and services in the world, awarding $500 billion in contracts every year. Everything from paper clips to missiles, computer software to marketing communication services, the government buys it all. And it’s not just from large contractors.

    The Small Business Administration (SBA) works with federal agencies to award nearly one quarter of prime government contracting dollars to small businesses in accordance with statutory goals. These “set-asides”, as they’re known, generate millions of dollars in payments and support a broad ecosystem of prime and sub-contractors.

    The Impact:

    When the government closes, not only do federal contracts stop paying out, but the opportunity to bid for new business also dries up, since everyone (except critical government employees) is furloughed. Even during the brief January 2018 shutdown, contractors received “stop work” orders from agencies. This equates to tense times for small business and can cost employees and subcontractors their jobs, at least temporarily.

    2.  If You’re Looking for an SBA Loan

    When the government shuts down, the SBA stops processing loan applications submitted by financial institutions on behalf of their clients (SBA doesn’t provide the funds, rather they guarantee the loan giving the lender a lifeline should the business owner default). In fact, it’s against the law for federal employees to do any work, even check email, when they’re furloughed.

    If your small business is looking for cash to grow or expand, you won’t get an answer on whether the loan is approved until the government returns to work. The exception is SBA disaster loans that help small business and home-owners recover from declared disasters.

    The Impact:

    During the prolonged 2013 shutdown (16 days), 700 loan applications piled up in a queue while the agency was closed. The Washington Post cited several examples of small business owners left in limbo when the SBA held up their loans. For example, Chris Leh, president of TL Technologies in Lancaster, PA., told a congressional hearing that he had to cancel a $600,000 equipment order and rescind two job offers to highly trained machinists because his SBA loan application was not approved before the 2013 shutdown.

    Then-acting SBA Administrator, Jeanne Hulit, wrote, “During the shutdown, I heard stories from small business owners about contracts cancelled or put on hold, workers they had to furlough, and the potential for shift and staff reductions…many small businesses are still struggling with how to take care of their employees as they see projects postponed.”

    3.  If your livelihood depends on tourism

    One of the most indelible images of all government  shutdowns is the closure signs posted outside national parks and landmarks. While some parks remain open during the current shutdown, albeit with a reduced level of service, many smaller sites are shuttered. If your business is located in the vicinity of a park, any closure can have devastating consequences.

    The Impact:

    Cancellations and reductions in traffic threatens small business livelihoods. National Park shutdown costs are already at $5 million and rising and our nation’s parks face years of damage as a result.

    4.  If you’re planning to hire

    One overlooked aspect of the government shutdown is the government’s E-Verify website used to verify the eligibility of individuals to work in the U.S. During any shutdown, per the Department of Homeland Security and USCIS, employers will not be able to access their online accounts.

    The Impact:

    While it shouldn’t delay your hiring plans (USCIS usually approves a workaround), the E-Verify shutdown puts businesses at risk of non-compliance if they skip this important step to ensuring a legal workforce.

    5.  If military personnel are your big customers

    Without an exemption, military personnel can be furloughed and lose pay during a shutdown.

    The Impact:

    If your business is located near a military base or is positioned in a military installation, lack of disposable income could hit your business hard during a shutdown.

    The bottom line

    Brief or prolonged, a federal government shutdown can throw a wrench in the works of business operations and plans. Shutdowns are a serious blow to small businesses and affect their ability to serve customers, access finance, invest, and ultimately, grow.

    According to Small Business Majority, every time the government closes shop it diminishes consumer confidence and creates a huge amount of uncertainty.

    Stay tuned for part two in this series, where we’ll discuss ways small business can plan for and mitigate the effect of government shutdowns if and when they happen.


    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.