Arts & Entertainment
Gay businesses still need our support
Originally printed 8/13/2009 (Issue 1733 - Between The Lines News)
On the Human Rights Campaign's Web site, there is a bar graph showing the change in the number of employers with a 100 percent rating from the organization's Corporate Equality Index, which measures how LGBT-friendly and supportive organizations are. In 2002, the number was 13. In 2005, it was 101. In 2009, 206 companies received that 100 percent rating.
What does this mean for us, the LGBT community? Businesses want our approval - and more importantly, our money.
When they support us, we support them. When they donate thousands of dollars to anti-gay marriage groups, we boycott them. We care where we shop, and so do they.
A perfect example of how much businesses care was shown just this week when, on the morning of Monday, Aug. 10, word leaked that the coffee and baked goods corporation Tim Hortons was donating goods and their logo to an anti-gay marriage rally hosted by the National Organization for Marriage in Rhode Island. Though a formal news story was tough to find, a look at any gay blog will tell the story, and many called for a boycott of the business.
Apparently, the news caused lots of people to call Tim Hortons' corporate office to confirm their support of the event and voice their displeasure. And by Monday afternoon, Tim Hortons had released a statement rescinding their support, stating that they were not aware that it was a political event hosted by a religion-based group.
See what we can do if we make our opinions heard by corporations?
But perhaps more important than boycotting those businesses that do not support our rights and do not offer us equal employment is supporting those that do. And HRC's Corporate Equality Index aside, there's one group we know we should always support: LGBT-owned businesses.
This week, we at Between The Lines looked at how Michigan's LGBT businesses are doing and why our community goes out of their way to shop there and support them.
The reasons are numerous, and many, obvious. They are part of our community. They unquestionably support our causes. We will always be welcome at their stores, restaurants, bars and coffee shops. We will always have a friend there and a place to go where we can shop without worrying whose hand we are holding or how we are dressed. They will help the community that helps them, whether through donations, petition signatures or something as simple as providing a space for an upcoming LGBT author or artist to showcase their work.
LGBT businesses need our support. There's no question about it. But here is a statement that should never be uttered: We don't need them.
When a young adult is coming out to their parent and they need an easy way to explain what they're going through, a book from an LGBT bookstore will do that. When a transgender person is looking for a safe space to hang out and have coffee or meet with friends, there are plenty of places to go. When a lonely single man or woman is fed up with Internet dating and wants to try to meet someone the old-fashioned way, there is \aut\ Bar or Pronto! or AJ's Music Cafe or Just 4 Us or Diversions. When someone feels alone and needs that sense of community, there they always are.
This may not be the 1970s, but it's still a time to know where you're most welcome and where your friends will always be. So support LGBT businesses, because you always know that they will be there to support you.