With Pride Month 2023 coming to a close, we're taking some time to reflect on the accomplishments, continue in celebration and look forward to the progress of the future. There's opportunities every day to learn, grow and advocate for our LGBTQ+ community and we are dedicated to continuing to stand up for our LGBTQ+ community and celebrate all love, all the time.
Jason, President and CEO of the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, shared his advice on how to be a LGBTQ+ Ally each and every day! Read his advice below!
Share briefly about what you do.
The Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce is a statewide business organization of nearly 700 LGBTQ and allied owned businesses working to advance a pro-fairness community in the state. We do that through networking events, educational programming, and community building. We help pro-equality businesses start, grow and thrive. Our membership is truly statewide and covers every industry and field. We are working to do our part to support the success of these businesses, as well as connecting consumers to these businesses. We know that people want to do business with those that share their values. We’re helping in that effort. We’re also helping build inclusion in the workplace and make Wisconsin a truly welcoming and inclusive place for all people.
What does being an ally mean to you?
I love this question. And I actually like to think of it as not just being an ally, but how do you become an advocate. To me, sometimes, ally seems passive. But being an advocate means that you are working each and every day towards building inclusion. That you are using your platform and your position to advocate and advance change for the LGBTQ+ community. Being an advocate means standing up and speaking out for justice, equality, and fairness for all people.
What can people do in their everyday lives to be a more supportive ally?
There are tons of simple actions that people can take in their everyday lives to be a more supportive ally. Whether it is including their pronouns in their email signature or when they start meetings, or whether it is putting up a rainbow sticker on your desk or wall at work. I often tell people that it is those little symbols that stand out. I notice when I see those things and make a mental note because I know it’s a safe space. But there is so much more people can do and we’re here at the Chamber to help them do it!
What are local LGBTQ+ friendly businesses you love and why?
Oh, I wish I could pick a favorite but there are so many amazing LGBTQ+ friendly businesses that belong to the Chamber that naming just a few would be so unfair to the rest. That’s one of the things I love about my job and the work of the Chamber. We get to meet awesome people every day who believe that “LOVE IS LOVE” and want to be a part of our growing pro-fairness movement. Businesses in every industry and every part of the state who are standing up and saying that they believe in equality and want to be a part of building that welcoming and inclusive community.
What local organizations or clubs do you recommend joining for those looking to get more involved?
Well, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t recommend businesses and individuals joining the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber. We would love to welcome additional folks who are committed to building equality. But we have a ton of other amazing nonprofits in this state focused on LGBTQ health care equity, community building, philanthropy and so much. I’d recommend checking out our Business Directory to find a ton of organizations you can get connected with based on your interests.
As someone who is a part of the LGBTQ+ community, if you could emphasize one thing to ally's what would it be?
Be confident. Be bold. Be there. We’re living in a really unique time right now. While we’ve seen a ton of advancements for the LGBTQ community over the past decade, we’re seeing a number of attacks right now on our community. We need people who are willing to stand up and speak out against the hate and injustice we are seeing. It isn’t easy. It doesn’t come without negative responses. It requires a strong backbone. But we need people who are not willing to back down but are willing to speak out and say that LGBTQ people matter, that they are important, and that they are supported.
Why do you love serving in the Milwaukee community?
Milwaukee is truly an amazing place. There is such a spirit of lending a helping hand. What I love about Milwaukee is that everyone truly, deeply cares about each other and each other’s success. That makes my job at the Chamber so great. While often members may be competitive in business for the same client or contract, they also believe it is important to work together and help support each other’s DEI efforts. Milwaukee and Wisconsin for that matter is all about working together to build a welcoming and inclusive place.