When the COVID-19 crisis began, the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce said that it has never been more imperative to commit ourselves to shop local, shop LGBT, give back what we can to our community organizations, and support all those around us. The virus hit our communities hard and indiscriminately, especially in the most vulnerable, intersectional communities among us. And businesses large and small stepped up to support them. We were reminded from the beginning that we truly are in this together.
That sense of togetherness is amplified exponentially as we have arrived at both Pride season and this unprecedented moment of awakening for racial and economic justice throughout our country. While small business powers America, diversity powers our movement — and always has.
As we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first ‘official’ Pride celebrations in this country, it is a stunning reminder that history doesn’t always repeat itself, but it definitely rhymes. Once again the movement for long-overdue social change in America is being led by communities of color. And the LGBT business community — all 1.4 million of our fellow entrepreneurs, their teams, and their allies — stands in solidarity with them.
In fact, the unity among diverse communities and business groups has never been more apparent than this moment. As NGLCC and the partners we brought together to form the National Business Inclusion Consortium (NBIC) shared in our coalition statement:
“The time is now for us to stand as one unified community to demand action and declare together that discrimination and bigotry against any fellow human being is wrong and will not be tolerated. That in fact #BlackLivesMatter.”
The NGLCC and our partners are guided by one fundamental principle: equality is good for business. And this year’s Pride and actions for racial justice carry a similar theme. Too many lives are being lost. Too many families are being devastated. The negative impact on our cities and towns is not and should not be sustainable. Our local, state, and national economies have been stretched to the max already. The time for action is now. We have to shed light on institutional racism and we must work to find solid equity for all. Our country deserves better, our people deserve justice, families of color deserve respect, journalism merits the exercise of reporting and free speech, and businesses deserve to thrive in a safe economy.
Our community is holding its breath for the Supreme Court to possibly decide this month if LGBTQ people — especially our black and brown brothers and sisters — have even the most basic rights to work and live in this country. If you don’t think racial justice is an LGBT fight too, you don’t get it. The unique threads of diversity that weave together forming our LGBT community highlight that our causes are forever linked. LGBT people are black and brown, Asian and Native American, abled and disabled, and so much more. But we all fight, march, and commit ourselves to one goal: a nation that sees us, respects us, treats each of us as equals.
It wouldn’t be a Pride reflection from the world’s largest LGBT business organization without a reminder and a call to action. This is the time to remind your favorite brands, TV networks, and magazines that inclusivity has never been more important. Just because we aren’t waving at your Pride float in person doesn’t mean we aren’t watching how you engage with our community and our allies in the black community.
As the economy regains its footing in the months ahead, leading with a commitment to diversity — as a business owner or consumer — can help supercharge our economy and our community back to where we should be with our $917 billion LGBT purchasing power.
Now is the time to double down on supporting inclusive businesses so that all our communities feel seen, supported, and empowered throughout — and long after this moment. Every dollar spent with the LGBT Business Community, especially our LGBT brothers and sisters of color, helps all of us come out of this moment stronger — and that is something that should give us all pride.
Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell are cofounders of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the business voice of the LGBT community.