As the senior vice president of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Jonathan Lovitz is often the architect of policies centering queer businesses and consumers. A regular commentator on MSNBC, CNBC, and NPR, he’s been a key advisor for legislators advocating for economic empowerment and equity for the LGBTQ community.
Lovitz got his “first taste in politics,” while attending the University of Florida in 2006, when he was motivated in response to George W. Bush’s stance against marriage equality. “I remember sitting in my dorm feeling powerless,” he says. “There was nothing I could do as some 18-year-old college kid. Then, I went to hear some of the speakers they brought to our campus. I remember hearing Harvey Fierstein, Danny from The Real World, and all of them talk about, ‘Whatever your way of being involved in the cause is the right way.’”
That’s a message Lovitz now pays forward, sharing it in speeches at colleges, where young people are just beginning to tap into their professional identities. “They have a voice,” Lovitz explains. “Whether it’s being a front line advocate, or being a conscious shopper, or someone who holds their allies to getting things right, everyone has some way to use their platform to make a difference.”
Lovitz is impassioned by the power of community. As a professional actor, toured the nation with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Jesus Christ Superstar. During a stop in Cheyenne, Wyo., he remembers meeting local queer youth who’d driven “40 miles to the nearest gay bar because it was the only family they had.” For Lovitz, it was an eye-opening look at what life could be like for young LGBTQ Americans — and it was the start of a new direction.
“To this day, working with youth — particularly middle and high school kids — is such an important part of both mine and my husband’s personal time. We find every chance we can to do some kind of volunteering to support kids.”
Lovitz also continues to break ground empowering the LGBTQ community to invest in ourselves and in our future. It’s a mission he’s dedicated to.
“I will never stop,” he says. “Whether that means going into the private sector and advocating for change in companies, or going in the public sector and running for office, I’m going to do something public and something that will help as many people as I can because that’s what I care most about.”