Illustration of two people walking toward each other, one carrying a Pride flag and the other carrying a scarf that says "Pride." Five icons in circles arch over them: a grocery bag, a contract, a graph with a dollar sign, a beach scene and food. Text in the lower left reads "LGBTQIA+ PRIDE."

Why You Should Spend With Pride Year-Round

Pride Month is about more than parades, parties and rainbow flags. As part of our celebration, we talked with GSBA, the Seattle-based LGBTQIA+ chamber of commerce, about being intentional with your dollars to support the LGBTQIA+ community year-round.

Pride Month is a time to get together to loudly and visibly celebrate LGBTQIA+ people, culture and communities. That's the fun part. But what if you want to make a year-round commitment?

We turned to our partners at the GSBA, Washington state's LGBTQIA+ chamber of commerce, to talk about the importance of voting with your wallet to support the LGBTQIA+ community — and show other businesses that it pays to embrace diversity, equity and inclusion.

Values-Based Spending

Amy Burdick, GSBA's director of Partnership Development said momentum for Pride celebrations has definitely picked up over the years, but it's a constant challenge to get the excitement to continue beyond June.

"We've come a long way from Pride as just a Sunday parade," Burdick said. "But we're hoping to create a Pride 365 scenario, where people support Pride year-round."

Ahi Martin-McSweeney, who manages the GSBA's Capitol Hill Alliance Program, said people seem to be getting savvier and more empowered to spend in a way that aligns with their values. GSBA tries to make it easier for people to make those spending choices.

"Consumers are getting more educated, but they don't want to spend a thousand minutes scrolling and clicking down a rabbit hole," Martin-McSweeney said. "If they can't find what they need quickly, eventually, they're going to go for convenience and click on Amazon."

Martin-McSweeney said the key is to provide a go-to resource that connects people with those everyday purchases at LGBTQIA+ businesses.

Matt Landers, who manages public policy and government relations for GSBA, said an uptick in interest in GSBA membership is in line with a growing trend of values-based consumerism. That makes it especially important for brands to show their customers where they stand.

As an example, Landers talked about using images of visibly LGBTQIA+ people in advertising as a way for businesses to show they represent the communities they serve: "That's super important because it helps your customers know that you support them and they are included in your community all the time, not just during Pride."

Why Intentional Spending Matters

Despite recent gains in LGBTQIA+ rights, discrimination persists, and LGBTQIA+ people continue to face barriers to equity.

"(Same-sex) marriage was never the be all end all of the fight," Landers said. "In Washington, we're lucky. We have one of the strongest anti-discrimination laws in the nation, passed in 2006. But there are 18 states without employment protections for LGBTQIA+ people. We never got civil rights protections nationwide."

2021 has been particularly difficult for LGBTQIA+ people, especially trans and nonbinary people.

Amy Burdick, GSBA Director of Partnership Development
Amy Burdick, GSBA Director of Partnership Development
Ahi Martin-McSweeney, GSBA Capitol Hill Alliance Program
Ahi Martin-McSweeney, GSBA Capitol Hill Alliance Program
Matt Landers, GSBA Public Policy and Government Relations
Matt Landers, GSBA Public Policy and Government Relations

"More anti-trans bills have been proposed in 2021 than in every previous year combined," Landers said. "There's an assault on the right of trans people to exist."

The pandemic has added to the burden of LGBTQIA+ people who were already struggling to achieve economic stability.

"LGBTQIA+ people have lost employment, lost housing, been kicked out of their families," Landers said. "Things like that have massive repercussions over a lifetime. You start back on your heels and never catch up."

Martin-McSweeney added that often people stereotype gay people as a "homogenized mass" of white men.

"There are others who are facing more barriers. LGBTQIA+ people of color have different earning power, some have different family structures and different access to family wealth," Martin-McSweeney said. "Their opportunities for job advancement or placement are different or limited because of how they look or identify."

In much the same way women have come to understand the "pink tax" (women's higher costs for personal care), trans people pay more to simply exist.

"A person who doesn't have to put their finances toward living in a body that is their identity is allowed to build their financial health in a way that is completely different," Martin-McSweeney said. "LGBTQIA+ people have to adjust or halt or make big decisions that set them back in their careers. They have to choose emotional and physical health over financial stability. The social fabric just isn't there to support them."

The pandemic magnified the financial instability of many LGBTQIA+ people and small businesses.

"For any marginalized community, when people experience discrimination in the workplace, they start their own businesses and create a workspace around the respect they need for themselves," Landers said. "LGBTQIA+ people, as with other marginalized communities, are more highly represented as employees and employers of service-oriented businesses."

That means that when the pandemic hit, it hit the LGBTQIA+ population much harder than the population at large because they were more likely to be essential workers, and less likely to be able to work remotely, which put LGBTQIA+ people in a position to more easily contract COVID-19. These problems were made worse by the increased difficulty LGBTQIA+ people have accessing healthcare.

Small businesses that make up most of the GSBA membership lost the most business, while many big corporations with stronger infrastructure thrived.

How You Can Support LGBTQIA+ Businesses

If you're looking for a way to support LGBTQIA+ businesses in your day-to-day transactions without spending a thousand minutes scrolling, Burdick suggested you check out your local LGBTQIA+ chamber of commerce. You can find National LGBT Chamber of Commerce affiliate members across the country, and the Western Business Alliance lists LGBTQIA+ chambers of commerce across the Western U.S.

Washington has both sides of the Cascades covered with two LGBTQIA+ chambers: Seattle-based GSBA and Spokane-based Inland Northwest Business Alliance.

On the GSBA site, for example, you can explore everything from accountants to youth care (if you scroll alphabetically) in the annual BECU sponsored GSBA directory. The GSBA also has a Seattle tourism site called Travel Out Seattle, where you can find shopping, dining, lodging and entertainment around town.

Also in Seattle, Intentionalist lists businesses in a variety of categories that you can support with your dining and shopping dollars. You can filter for product or service type, location and community, including LGBTQIA+ owned businesses. For the month of June, Intentionalist is hosting Spend With Pride, a program sponsored by Seattle Sounders FC, Seattle Storm, Seattle Seahawks, OL Reign, Seattle Kraken and Seattle Mariners to promote $25,000 in spending at LGBTQIA+ owned businesses. You can upload your receipts to the site to contribute to the goal.

Landers said spending your money in LGBTQIA+ businesses has benefits that extend to the local community.

"Small businesses give back to their neighborhoods," Landers said. "They're more likely to give back to social causes and local kids' sports teams. They know their communities and their communities know them, and those dollars that are spent in the local business recirculate."