BY Michelle Garcia
January 26 2010 5:55 PM ET
From a business standpoint, what are you expecting or at least hoping to see from Washington in the year ahead?
I'd like them — from a certification standpoint, as being certified as a gay-owned business — I would like to see that reach out even into legislation. Right now, it's great that [the NGLCC] has a lot of certification with businesses, but I'd like to see that more with some states are actually looking at it. Some smaller corporations will look to the states to see who their approved vendors are, and hopefully, they'll pick them from the same list.
As far as other businesses, also making sure that the money is still flowing and that there are loans that are available. Not just to start businesses, but to keep businesses going. It's the cash flow that kills. Without cash flow you could totally cripple a business. I think those things need to be looked at.
From a personal standpoint, I have a sibling that has been displaced from the auto industry. ... There are a lot of people who have been laid off from their jobs that are trying to figure out what's next, when their [particular job] is all they know. That's a tough things that businesses can do to help individuals get on their feet, too.
Are there any initiatives or policy changes that the Obama administration has made that help small businesses?
Loosening up lending has helped a lot, because, again, it's more cash flow in.
What are some unique challenges or advantages that you face as a gay business owner?
I think there's always the potential of being stereotyped or being discriminated against. Especially living in a conservative state, it can be an issue. I've been fortunate that we have some amazing clients, and they've been really cool. People can be horrible, or they can be great, so it just depends on the person. But you can always get a little nervous when you meet a new client for the first time. They don't have to want and love to go to Gay Pride with me — I'm not asking for that, but you also don't want them to be the total opposite.
Lucky for me, I was raised in a conservative Christian home and have been brought up in private Christian schools from seventh grade all the way up through college, and I've been fortunate not to have anyone turn against me, even when coming out. I've had a good experience. Even with friends who say, "Well, I don't agree with that," I can just say, "That's OK, I'm not asking you to. That's your issue there."
I've done a lot of educating other people about being gay, telling them it's definitely not a disease, not a choice — you didn't choose your hair color, and I didn't choose my sexuality. It's just who I am. I've had to embrace that, and it's something that I haven't hidden. So when I go into meetings, I get a little tentative, but as I get a little older, I'm just a little more free to be like, "I have a partner of seven years." So, no, I'm not always like, "Hey, by the way, I'm gay!" Sometimes the conversation doesn't really need it, but I do wear a wedding ring, so one time I had a client ask me, "I see you're married. What does your wife think about ... " and I've had to say, "Actually, I have a partner," and they had no problem, and they keep talking.
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