Before I get into our topic of celebration and marriage equality and what’s next – I want to say THANK YOU to the 5,000+ new listeners who enjoyed episodes during the month of June. This is the 3rd year in a row I’ve aired the interviews and I have to say – you are all amazing.
For those of you who are listening to this for the first time after having been introduced to the podcast via a great interview from the 30 Days – 30 Voices project – welcome!
Today’s episode is going to be about all of the great things marriage equality can bring to us.
Below are the links mentioned in today’s episode:
- The Washington Post
- Facebook Went Red for Marriage Equality: The Results
- #48: How to be an ally to a community you don’t belong to [Podcast]
- Will changing your Facebook profile do anything for marriage equality?
- Employment Non-Discrimination Act
- LGBT Entrepreneurs
Listen to the episode by clicking the play button below!
Would you prefer to read the transcript than listen to the episode? No problem! Read transcript below.
AUDIO TITLE: Episode #61 – Marriage Equality Has Arrived, But the Work is Far From Done!
Jenn T Grace:
You are listening to the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast, Episode 61.
Welcome to the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast where you’ll learn how to do business with and market to the LGBT community in an authentic and transparent way. We’re talking about the $790 billion lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender community. We’ll help you grow your business, gain market share and impact your bottom line. And now your host – she’s an entrepreneur, a marketing maven and an advocate for the LGBT business community. Jenn, with two N’s, T. Grace.
Jenn T Grace:
Hello and welcome to episode number 61 of the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast. Today is Wednesday, July 1st. And today is a completely off the beaten path episode for you. I typically put out a podcast every other Thursday, and today I wanted to do a random one actually on July 1st, just after this past June because I recently relaunched the Thirty Days, Thirty Voices: Stories from America’s LGBT Business Leaders Podcast Series. Which basically ran for every single day in June, and the reason I’m bringing that up and the reason why I’m recording today on Wednesday, July 1st, is because I need to thank you and welcome you to this podcast. I have over 5,000 new listeners. The last time I checked which was a couple of hours ago, I had 5,251 new listeners as a result of this past June and the Pride Month episodes. So I seriously cannot thank you enough. And I know that I did not have these 5,251 new listeners prior to June 1st so welcome to this podcast, I’m super excited to have you, I’m so happy that you found the show. You might have found it as a result of somebody that you know, some expert that I interviewed and you wanted to check it out. But regardless of how you found your way to this podcast, I am so excited to have you here.
Today’s special topic…
So today’s special edition episode is to talk about marriage equality; I’m sure you were so surprised by that being the topic of today’s discussion. So I know that I do have a really significant size audience that is outside of the United States, but I am going to be talking to you, the US listeners today, and those I guess who are in other countries who sell to the United States. So if you have been living under a rock, which perhaps you have, the Supreme Court of the United States this past Friday handed down a ruling making same-sex marriages the law of the land here in the United States. This is such a huge, huge victory for the LGBT community, for LGBT equality across the board, it’s really just really exciting. And as a side note which I’m super excited about is that this all happened on my birthday. So on June 26th at about 10:00 AM, 10:05 to be exact, I was completely flooded, bombarded and overwhelmed with the amount of inquiries and emails and text messages all congratulations. You know it’s typically just kind of a chaotic day when it comes to social media on your birthday anyway, I’m sure you can relate to this as well. But it’s even moreso crazy when it also happens to coincide with something of such huge significance. So this happened this past June 26th in 2015, but this actually happened very similar in 2013 when DOMA, the Defense Of Marriage Act which basically is what led the courts to this past ruling, to completely allow same-sex marriage for all. That happened also on June 26th, and that was in 2013. And at that time I was outside playing golf on the golf course with my wife and my father-in-law, and around 10:00 AM again, my phone just started going out of control with people so excited over DOMA, that specific part of DOMA being repealed.
So June 26th is certainly a very lucky day for me personally because it’s my birthday, and you know, why not? But it’s also a huge, huge monumental date for LGBT history, LGBT equality, because even if we look back to 2003 there was the Texas Sodomy Act that was also ruled by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. So there’s three really big victories on June 26th. So I’m really thrilled that that is indeed the case yet again in 2015. I am going to talk about a couple of things on today’s episode which also includes ENDA which is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and I want to share a little bit about that with you as well because I’m hoping that maybe next year on June 26th or the following year on June 26th; somehow the Employment Non-Discrimination Act can be enacted. I don’t really know how the legal system works and what days they decide certain things. However I do know that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act seems to be the next thing on the list. And if you’re not really familiar with what that is, don’t worry at all, I’m going to get into that in just a couple of minutes.
First thing to point out…
So before I really just kind of start talking and getting into everything, I do want to point out that if you hear something in today’s episode that you want to reference again, whether it’s some article that I’m talking about, whether it’s a specific link I’m mentioning, if you’re driving, you’re on the treadmill, you’re outside running; wherever you might be, mowing the lawn perhaps. Don’t worry about trying to write it down, just remember that this is episode number 61 and you can go to my website at www.JennTGrace.com/61 for this episode and I have a listing of show notes that basically provide all of this information including a transcript of today’s episode. If you are really on top of your game, and you’re actually listening to this on Wednesday, July 1st when it goes live, the transcript probably won’t be up until maybe a day or two later. So if you’re really looking for the word-by-word play-by-play of today’s episode, just check back after. But I will certainly have all of the links to what I’m talking about today, all of the resources that we discuss, et cetera, et cetera.
So in terms of this whole marriage equality thing, it’s just- it is so incredible to me. So my birthday was on Friday, June 26th. My wife’s birthday is actually tomorrow, July 2nd, and we were born in the same year. So I think it’s really awesome that we are six days apart which is pretty cool. And our wedding anniversary, we are going on four years, is the following Thursday on July 9th. So we are very fortunate that we get three major things in our relationship all kind of knocked down one-by-one-by-one, all within a matter of two weeks. So it’s pretty exciting. But I think this four year anniversary is going to have some additional significance I guess because we will no longer- well not this anniversary, but hopefully in future anniversaries, we won’t have to be calling it a same-sex marriage, it will just be marriage. Marriage will be marriage, just like anyone who is in an interracial marriage. They no longer say that it’s an interracial marriage, they’re just married, they’re a married couple, their race has nothing to do with it.
The road to marriage equality..
So it’s really exciting that in the not-so-distant future we can see a time where that’s the case. However I am certain that the road is going to be paved with a lot of roadblocks while we have marriage equality as ruled on by the Supreme Court, I feel like there’s still going to be plenty of people throwing curveballs at us left and right, and it’s still going to be kind of an uphill battle in terms of just having full LGBT equality. Because we are still far from equals, even though our marriage has been ruled as being equal. So we’ll see how things play out. I know personally for a fact that I have been very busy since Friday, and I know it’s been less than a week. But the second that ruling came down, not only because it was my birthday I was being bombarded with messages, but the fact that it was not too surprising that they ruled in our favor, I didn’t want to be cocky about it, I wanted to just really kind of wait and patiently see what the Supreme Court kind of had decided. So I didn’t really have anything particular in place in terms of marketing efforts of my own. I figured I would record some kind of podcast like this but I didn’t pre-prepare it, so really when it hit on Friday morning it was kind of like, ‘Oh wow, we have a lot of opportunity in front of us. We really need to figure out how to capitalize on this. Not just for my own business but for your business.’ So I think as it stands right now on July 1st of 2015- and I would love to be able to look back at this episode in the distant future and see if my predictions are somewhat accurate. But I feel like we are in store for things that we cannot yet calculate. So I think marriage equality is going to really be a catalyst for so many businesses. I know it’s a catalyst for a lot of businesses that I’m working with; whether they’re small mom and mom and pop and pop type of businesses, or if they’re large corporations. I know that for some of you, this ruling is that push to get the support internally for whatever company you’re working for, whether you own the company or you’re an employee of a company. I know that this is going to be the piece that finally pushes you forward to give you enough ammunition to really go to management, go to the powers that be and say, “Listen, the LGBT market is something that we need to pay attention to. I’ve been saying that we need to pay attention to this for a long time, now we have same-sex marriage equality, what are we going to do about it?” And I think what we’re going to see is that there’s a lot of companies that have been very proactive, very, very proactive, long before marriage equality became law of the land. But companies are now going to have to step up their game. You know at this point if you’re a Fortune sized company or working for a Fortune sized company, and you’re not paying attention to this, and you’re not against it, you’re really going to have to do some catching up. And I think it’s perfectly feasible that you can catch up. Because there are a lot of companies, and there are going to continue to be a lot of people who are completely opposed to LGBT equality in any regard, and that’s fine for them. But public opinion is certainly swaying towards seeing full equality for all, so I think that it’s just really wise of any company regardless of your size to really be thinking about how can you bridge the gap between maybe current feelings around the LGBT community within that company and what the public opinion is saying and how can you kind of find a way to make opportunities for you personally, and then also for your company as this kind of all unfolds in front of us.
How it can impact our businesses…
I really wish I had a crystal ball and I could see where my business will be in a year, or your business will be in a year as a result of all of this activity. But unfortunately I don’t have a crystal ball, but I can say with certainty that there’s going to be some significant changes across the board, sweeping changes that we can’t even yet understand or wrap our heads around. So I will be anxiously waiting to see how things unfold, and what happens, and of course per my promise to you I will make sure that I’m bringing you as much up-to-date information as I possibly can as we’re kind of going on this journey together.
So when- I don’t know about you. So if you are looking at your Facebook feed, I know that many of you listening to this are on Facebook, I communicate with you on Facebook, we’re friends on Facebook, all that kind of great stuff. I don’t know if you notice the intense amount of rainbow photos sweeping your Facebook feed, but I am so overwhelmed with the amount of support that I personally saw as a result of the ruling. So Facebook was wise enough- and I’m going to give you a couple of links here that you can go check out later. But Facebook was wise enough to create the filter to make your profile picture rainbow really quickly.
Social media changing the tides..
So I don’t know if you remember back in 2013 when DOMA was repealed. Over three million changed their Facebook photos to the HRC logo which is typically that blue and yellow equal sign if you’re not familiar with it. But they had changed it to a red equal sign for the HRC logo to support marriage equality. So I remember, and I actually wrote a blog post about this, you can certainly go check that out by going to www.JennTGrace.com/61 and you can find the link there. But I wrote a blog post about that when it happened because I am somewhat of a dork when it comes to things, and I really love seeing- I’m not a numbers person, but I do love seeing like raw data because it certainly helps build a strong business case for whatever it is that you’re trying to build. So in this case when I saw that over three million people changed their photo to the HRC logo, I thought that was huge and I still think it’s huge. I keep looking back at it like wow, three million people on Facebook were forward enough to change their Facebook photo to the HRC logo showing that they are in support of marriage equality.
So now think of that, so that was two years ago, just a mere two years ago and we had three million people change it to the HRC logo. Fast forward to today and on June 29th, so just this past Monday, the Washington Post posted an article- and that will also be in the show notes for today’s episode. But the Washington Post posted an article that shows that 26 million people turned their Facebook photos rainbow. 26 million. So we went from three million two years ago to 26 million today. Like that is just seriously crazy to me. Like honestly insane to me that 26 million people had done this. And I- you know of course this is my business, this is what I do is I help people market to the LGBT community, I help people communicate properly with the LGBT community. So as all of this is unfolding, I’m looking at it from a social standpoint, from a business standpoint, from a political standpoint; like all of these different ways. And I had posted something on my own personal page the other day basically just saying how bombarded I personally feel with the amount of love and support from so many allies to stand up and change their photos rainbow. So when I was looking through my friends list, and I should actually take a screenshot of it because it’s completely fascinating. So going through I obviously know who are the LGBT friends I have, who are the straight friends I have, like it’s just typically obvious to me because I know them, they’re friends. So as I’m going through it, it was a crystal clear almost 50-50 split between the amount of people who are allies to the community and then the amount of people who are part of the community. To me that is some- just baffling, baffling number to me because I know that it’s almost like a confirmation by it happening that I know that I surround myself with really amazing people whether they’re close friends of mine, whether they’re acquaintances, or friends of friends. For the most part I have really awesome people in my life who are very supportive, who are true blue allies to the LGBT community. So it really in all honesty shouldn’t be really shocking that this is the type of response that I was able to see.
So when a couple of days later the Washington Post reports that 27 million people turned their Facebook photos rainbow, now that’s some serious numbers because you know that there is a ton, a ton of LGBT allies who are supporting the community and in a very social way. So it’s just- it’s incredible and I’m going to quote a couple of things from the Washington Post article, but again you can read the whole thing if you want. But before I do that, I actually want to read an email that I got.
So this is an email, and I will not call him out by name, but this is an email from somebody who is a really close colleague of mine. He and I bounce ideas off of each other quite regularly and he is 100% an ally to the LGBT community. And this is the email that he sent me.
‘Hey Jenn, since you’re the business expert on this, I have a strict policy of not participating in social media things. I especially steer clear of anything that is controversial. The ruling last week is something I was insanely happy about and fully support, but of course half my clients are nutcases. So while I’d love to tell them to go f- themselves, they pay me so I didn’t colorify my avatar even though I want to. Part of me says, ‘Hey that’s my policy.’ Part of me says, ‘I am part of the problem and being a-‘ and I won’t actually say what word he used. Let me know your thoughts, would love to hear your honest reaction to that, and also congratulations. It’s about f-ing time. And feel free to use this as a blog post because that’s what I would do.’
So in true spirit of using each other for you know education to both of our audiences, I am not just using this for a blog post, but I’m using it for this podcast. So I think that he really brings up something that I am feeling pretty confident that some of you listening to this may have struggled with. So on the one hand, you are on social media and you’re on social media because you want to connect with friends. And in all honesty for the longest time, I was really, really particular with who I would accept as a friend. And I really left Facebook as my personal friendships where I would just kind of- you know as if you are having conversations with your family. So my Facebook for a very long time was very personal, and people that were friends, people I actually knew in real life, and that’s all it was. So if I didn’t know you, we didn’t have any mutual friends, I would just not accept your friend request. But I would say, “You know, you can go certainly check out my business page.”
So I have changed that policy within the last I would say maybe like three months, six months. So it’s pretty recent for me to have changed how I use my personal Facebook page. On the other hand there’s something like LinkedIn for example. I have somewhere like 3,000 connections on LinkedIn or something like that, and I will accept a LinkedIn request from anybody and I engage with every single person who sends me a request. So currently if we’re not connected on LinkedIn or even Facebook, please feel free to reach out to me because I do want to talk with you and meet with you and certainly engage with you.
So back to my point, so my point is that for a long time social media, specifically Facebook to me, meant that it was more personal. And I could say things and do things differently because I wasn’t concerned about the public appearance. And you know what I have found is that it’s really hard to kind of delineate the two. And I do everything in my power to live a very authentic and transparent life, and it’s something that I preach in not just my books but this podcast, on my blog, everywhere- even when I’m out speaking, I’m always talking about how important it is to be just transparent and honest when you’re specifically marketing to the LGBT community. So it would almost seem like I’m being a hypocrite if I weren’t kind of walking that same walk that I’m talking about.
So I still post to my Facebook page as if those who are connected to me were friends. So if you sent me a friend request tomorrow, I would accept it, and you would just see my life as my life is. It’s not sugar coated, it’s not- you know I’m not just cherry picking things. I’m talking about my kids, I’m talking about my family. So it’s not a watered down version of me, it really is me. And what he- and because I know him in more detail what he is kind of struggling with, and this could be something that you’ve struggled with as well, is that he has this policy that he’s just not going to participate in any type of social media thing, and I think one of the other things that he’s referring to is the ALS bucket- the ice bucket challenge that went insanely viral last year. So I remember pretty certain that he wasn’t participating in that either. So that’s- so it’s not that he’s saying that he’s not in support of LGBT, it’s not to say that he’s not an ally, he just does not want to go down the road where it opens the door for people to comment or criticize. So I completely understand where he’s coming from. And the fact that he’s acknowledging that a lot of his clients are nutcases. You know we all have a crazy client or two, like it’s just kind of the way of the world. And to me having to be authentic 100% of the time, I know that for LGBT I am going to be out there, I am going to be talking about LGBT because it’s my business. But I can also see it from his standpoint that I know right now we are having quite the race war and race debates in our country which honestly seem baffling to me. They seem completely and utterly baffling. And a couple of months ago I recorded a podcast about how to be an ally to a community that you don’t necessarily belong to. And in that podcast specifically I was talking about how do I be an ally to my black friends when I am a white female living in the suburbs? How am I an ally to them? And it’s very similar to how are you an ally to the community- to the LGBT community if you’re not part of the LGBT community? And there is a little bit of struggle that happens because you want to help, you’re by definition you’re an ally, you want to be helpful. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to be helpful.
So in this instance, like he’s trying to really weigh the balance of do I piss of my crazy clients by showing my support for the LGBT community? Or do I just not say anything because it’s the safer road? And he fully admits at the bottom of his email is that part of him thinks that he is part of the problem for not coloring his logo, coloring his avatar and showing his pride support. So I feel like this is not a clean cut answer, and I have no doubt in my mind that there are some of you listening to this who own businesses, and you may be in businesses that are in more conservative areas, you might live in a conservative state. Just because same-sex marriage has come to your state, and now has been- has to forcefully recognize it whether they want to or not, that doesn’t make your life any easier, and I fully acknowledge that. So my advice that would give back to him and I’m going to respond to his email telling him to listen to this podcast, would be to do what you think feels right for you. Ultimately you have to make a living, you have to pay your bills, you know money is what makes the world go around. So in this instance if you know that a lot of your clients are conservative, a lot of them are out celebrating the raising of Confederate flags versus taking Confederate flags down as they should be in my personal opinion, then it might not make sense to ruffle feathers. At the same time I can see how by you standing and taking a stand basically, and coloring your logo rainbow like most- 26 million other people have done, then you could be part of what changes hearts and minds to say, ‘Oh wow hey, I didn’t- you know he’s not part of the community but he’s an ally, he’s coloring his logo. Why is that? Why is this person that I respect, why is this person that I do business with, I’ve been doing business with who’s really good at what he does; he’s willing to stand up and say, “Hey I’m an ally to the community.” Why can’t I do that? Why do I have a problem with that?’
And it does start to make people think twice as to whether or not- you know what their real beef is with LGBT equality. So I kind of bring that up because the Washington Post article that I was referring to before, it talks about- let me just actually read a couple of pieces of it, and I really encourage you to read the whole thing, it’s not a long article at all. But part of it says, ‘On first glance of course the answer would appear to be no. The monetary riskless act of editing my profile picture is decidedly not what persuaded five Supreme Court justices to side with marriage equality. And the flicker of colorful squares in the news feed is not what will say end workplace discrimination against LGBT people in 29 states. Profile picture campaigns are effective in showing the friends and family in your social network that you have some affinity for a political candidate or cause, said Philip Howard, a sociologist of- at the University of Washington and the Director of Digital Activism Research Project. Policy changes are not usually the outcome.’
So this piece is just saying that policy changes are not necessarily the outcome of people deciding to change their profile pictures rainbow. But it does go on to say, ‘Our social attitudes are informed largely by what we believe is standard or acceptable in our social group as a whole. And every day, whether we realize it or not, we receive lots of different messages on these norms. Some unspoken, i.e. I can’t come to work naked, some based on law, I can’t kill even my most hated commentators, some very literal, buckle up, just say no. Profile pictures arguably are a very particular and effective type of message. They don’t dictate how you should or must behave as laws in PSAs typically do. Instead they simply tell you how your peers are behaving. In other words, they support marriage equality, why don’t you?’
My personal opinion..
So I found this really to be just a very interesting article because it ties in so beautifully with the email that I got and the question that was asked, and ultimately you know it’s your decision. I would personally say every ally should stand up and say that they support marriage equality, and very publicly do so by changing their Facebook photo. But I 100% understand that if you don’t do it, you have specific reasons for why you’re not doing it, and that doesn’t make it wrong. It’s your choice, and your choice ultimately. So I know I have posted a ton of stuff to Facebook in particular and Twitter, I’m on Twitter all the time and always posting stuff on Twitter. Facebook I’m a little more reserved with the amount of things that I’m posting. But with marriage equality where it is, there’s just a lot of really good information that I’ve been sharing as I see it. And I had a cousin of mine post on one of the pictures or something that I had posted about LGBT marriage, and it just said ‘Alright’ and had a bunch of exclamation points. So I read that as, ‘Alright, enough already, I’m sick of hearing your antics about same-sex marriage.’ And that’s a cousin of mine. So out of everybody that I’m friends with on Facebook, and it’s maybe 500 or 600 people, like I said I just recently changed my policy to be friends with anybody who’s interested in just kind of connecting with me. But out of all of them I had one person who had a quasi-negative, and even then she might have been- her idea of alright with exclamation points might be something different than what I’m interpreting.
Regardless, it’s my point is just that there’s one person out of everyone that I know who had somewhat of an issue with it. But if you are not in a world or an atmosphere or a state where it’s really just kind of like a given that LGBT equality is kind of what it is, then I can see why you wouldn’t want to be as risky and again, I think that is 100% okay. So if you have some LGBT person in your life who may be giving you hell or even a fellow ally who’s giving you hell about not making your profile picture rainbow, I would just tell them to mind their own business and that they’re not in your shoes, and you’re making the best decision for you.
So you know that might be- that might not be the answer that anyone was expecting me to come out with, but ultimately it really is your choice and I think that you have to take a stand where and when it makes most sense for you that’s not going to adversely affect your business. At the same time I would be willing to bet anything that if you were to really publicly support this change in the definition of marriage, you will see a big uptick in business for yourself as it leads to LGBT people and other allies who are like, ‘Oh wow, that company is taking a stand.’
So I think it’s kind of a catch 22, it’s a little bit can kind of see it from both directions. But ultimately I will continue to tell you that you should just do what’s best for you honestly, and be completely okay with that. And if anyone else has anything to say about it, just tell them to leave you alone.
Now we talk more about the marketing opportunity..
So going actually a little bit off of this, and talking about the market opportunity. It was recently estimated that the 2014 buying power figure for the LGBT community is $884 billion. So if you recall my book that I launched last year in 2014 was based on 2013 figures, because that’s just kind of how statistics work. And it was $830 billion then. So that book was titled, ‘No Wait, You Do Look Gay: The Seven Mistakes Preventing You from Selling to the $830 Billion LGBT Market.’ So it’s pretty exciting to me that we are now up to $884 billion and that is just from one year over another. So my point here is that we have a $54 billion marketing- market increase for LGBT buying power in one year. I think that just continues to prove the point that the LGBT market is growing and is going to continue to grow and I would imagine that we’re going to see even larger numbers for the next time this data comes around. Because I think ultimately we’re going to see a lot more people coming out as a result of marriage equality, and as I said it has been a very busy few days on my end for the amount of people reaching out to me. And I’ve had two really, really interesting conversations; one of which was with a long-time colleague of mine who came out to me as transgender. And this not something I was expecting in any way, and he was reaching out to confide in me and wanted to just kind of have a supportive ear, and really just talk about a little bit of like what he’s been struggling with. And between Caitlin Jenner recently coming out trans, and then with the marriage equality ruling, it just seems like now for him was a really opportune time to come out and talk to me, and just really lay it all out there, and of course I’m completely 100% open arms, understanding, it just- I was a little bit surprised by it but by no means is that upsetting or anything like that. Like hell yeah, rock on, I’m so happy that he is at a point in his life where he feels comfortable enough to come out, and that we have a switch or a sea change of public opinion where coming out, while yes still incredibly risky whether it’s coming out trans or coming out LG or B, it’s still really risky in a lot of instances. But having full marriage equality and having somebody as big of a public figure as Caitlin Jenner is really just changing kind of the landscape of what’s happening.
So I would say that if you haven’t had somebody come out to you already, and you know mind you we’re less than a week out from this all happening, it’s five days as I’m recording this. I would be willing to bet anything that you’re probably going to start to see some people- someone in your life is going to come out to you, and they’re going to feel comfortable enough to come out to you as a result of this new marriage equality ruling. So I think that’s pretty awesome in my personal opinion.
I also had a really long-time friend of mine, I’ve known him since I was nineteen and I came out when I was nineteen, so we’ve been friends this many years, fifteen some odd years, and he clearly has never had an issue with me or my wife, or anything like that. So I know that he is not affected by who is or isn’t LGBT, but he sent me a text the other day in a- for lack of a better phrase, I would say kind of in a panic mode. Like he was in straight up panic because his best friend and they’ve been best friends since they were in elementary school so they’ve been friends for like 35 years at this point, came out to him. And he is in a- like a state of not knowing what to do with that information, and not because he has any issues with LGBT people, but rather you know this has been his friend for 35 years, and his friend’s been struggling with this for God knows how many of those years, and has finally come out. And he’s just kind of a little bit shaken up by it because he just doesn’t know how to process it. So in his instance I just kind of talked him off the ledge and said, “Listen it’s the same friend that you’ve always had, he’s probably been holding this in for a really long time. I know that you had mentioned to me that he’s tried to commit suicide a couple of times in the last few years. That is probably a direct result of him hiding his identity from not just you but everybody else in his life. So just, you know, take it easy, slow down, be supportive, you know acknowledge your feelings to him that you’re just- you know you need to process because this is a big shift from what you knew him- or how you knew him.” And he kind of told me what his response to his friend was, which was beautifully done. Just so supportive, but I said at the same time just be mindful of that he’s looking to you for social cues and he’s looking to you as being kind of a strong rock in this instance because this is one of probably his deepest, darkest secrets he’s ever told anyone, and I’m sure being friends for 35 years, telling him was probably one of the scariest damn things beside telling his family. So you know it’s one of those things that I think people just need to take time to process, and acknowledge that they’re taking time to process. And it’s not because they have anything against that person being LGBT, but it really- it is a different change. And you know I say this to parents when I talk to parents who have gay children or LGBT children. And when the LGBT child comes out to them, the parents a lot of times will kind of freak out and not really know how to handle it or even the ones that are really good at handling it, there’s still kind of like a grieving process that has to happen. So they’re grieving the life that they envisioned for you. And now they have to kind of recreate a story of what your life will be. And a lot of times they’re coming from a place of really good intention where they’re just concerned; they’re concerned that your life is now going to be more difficult, or it’s not going to be as rosy and easy as it may have been if you were living a straight life.
So it’s not because people are upset but they have to grieve, and I think that if you’re in a position where somebody is coming out to you, that you’re completely caught off guard by, just recognize that you yourself need time to process. They need time to process having told you. And really just try to have really open and honest dialogue. So the fact that I had this happen to me twice in the last five days, I am certain that this is going to keep happening and I am more than happy to help anybody kind of walk through this whole processing of this new information. And hopefully by me sharing these two stories with you, it’s helpful in some way because I feel certain that as a listener of this podcast, it shows that you are proactively thinking about the LGBT community, whether you are part of the community or you’re an ally, and you’re really authentic and you’re mindful of this. Because my whole podcast just talks about authenticity and transparency and all these things, and if that weren’t necessarily your style, you would have stopped listening long ago; I wouldn’t have just picked up 5,000 new listeners in the last month if that were the case.
So I just wanted to really just kind of point that out because I think it’s just really- it’s really important and it’s going to kind of continue to be a hot topic. So in terms of being able to translate this hot topic if you will into market opportunities for yourself, I spent the day on Saturday holed up in my home because it was raining and kind of gross out and my kids were completely entertained by themselves, and I wrote you a new book. So I wrote a ninety page eBook and right now it’s just in eBook format, however I’m considering creating printed versions of it. But if you go to www.MarriageEqualityMarketing.com, you can go download for completely- just for free. So if by going there you download it for free, you end up on my mailing list, you can unsubscribe from the list after the fact if you choose to, no offense taken. If you’re already on my mailing list you can go to my website and you can go to my online store and just find the marriage equality book there and use the coupon code LOVEWINS and it’ll wipe out the dollar amount in your checkout and it will still be free. So there’s a couple of different ways to get it. But it’s called ‘Marriage Equality Marketing: Five Questions You Must Ask to Sell to the $884 Billion LGBT Market.’ So it’s really a small roadmap, it’s nothing earth shattering but it’s just my way of giving you a little bit of a roadmap of how to take in all of this new information. So marriage equality is law of the land, it’s not going anywhere. So how can your business figure out how to take advantage and capitalize on that market? And I say take advantage in the most sincere way possible. You know you’ve been- this podcast has been on the air for going on three years now, you’ve been here for three years, you know there’s 5,000 new people in the last month so congratulations, you can go back and listen to three years’ worth of information. But you’re here for the right reasons. You know you’re still listening to me after this amount of time, so I want you to really be able to leverage all of what you’ve learned, all of what you know how to do, and all of what makes you a great LGBT person or an ally to LGBT people.
So I created it just for you, completely free. I am, like I said, I am really toying with creating printed versions of it. I think that it would be fun and it’s also almost that time of year when the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce comes out with their annual conference. So that is happening August 11th through August 14th, and it’s in Fort Lauderdale, and I think it’s at like the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort or something like that in Fort Lauderdale. But if you go to www.NGLCC.org you should go check it out because the conference fee is really low key in terms of the amount of money you have to spend, and the amount of benefit and value you get for your money.
So two things with that. Number one if you do end up going to the NGLCC conference, please find me. If I don’t know you already, please come find me and I sincerely mean that. At last year’s conference it was really funny because I- right when I was just checking into the hotel, it was in Las Vegas. As I was checking into the hotel I had people in the registration line coming up to me and talking to me. And then as I was getting into the elevator I had two people say, “Oh my God I totally listen to your podcast.” So it was really awesome, and I love the fact that I connected with them and you know now we connect on a more regular basis. So please, please come find me or send me an email and we can actually make a specific plan to have coffee while at the conference.
But the reason I bring it up is that if I do decide to come out with a printed version of this book, I will be doing so at the NGLCC conference. So instead of giving away a keychain, which I’ve never done, but you know keychains, pens, that kind of stuff that I think is important to have, I may end up just having copies of this printed and bringing a select quantity and you know just sprinkling them about and giving them to anyone who’s interested. So yeah that would be a good way to get your printed version of it if you’re interested. So yeah, so that is that on the marriage equality front.
Something I do want to spend a little bit of time talking about is kind of around the question of what’s next? So we started off this episode talking about what’s next in terms of how is this ruling going to impact your business, my business, and the community at large for that matter. But the question I keep seeing, and I’ve been seeing people writing articles about it, I see it on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, whatever social media outlet I’m on; I keep seeing this question of like, ‘Well where does the LGBT community go from here? What is the next LGBT rights project- or not project, what’s the next- where does the gay rights movement go from here?’ And I say gay more loosely because that is how I keep seeing it phrased.
So I think that’s a really valid question and I have seen that people are speculating that it’s going to be focusing on transgender inclusion because the trans community is notoriously left out of a lot of these conversations. I’ve seen speculation that we are going to focus on LGBT youth. So there’s a lot of different directions, it seems that the LGBT community can kind of go in and rally behind. I have a very personal and specific opinion as to where I think we need to go from here, and that is workplace equality. I- and I don’t want to poo-poo marriage equality in any way, shape or form, however I am surprised- or I guess maybe I’m surprised but I’m not surprised, that we attained marriage equality before having workplace and employment equality. And I’m married for crying out loud, so if I’m married and clearly having all these additionally federal benefits as being a married couple and having it be less of a pain in the ass to fill out my taxes every year, that’s all well and good. But marriage equality only affects a certain amount of the LGBT population, versus workplace equality and employment equality affects almost everybody. So whether you’re an employee, it affects you. Whether you own a business, it affects you because you have employees. Whether you’re a corporation, it’s going to affect you. So regardless across the board, workplace equality affects absolutely everybody, and I’m surprised that we couldn’t get enough rallying and support around ending this employment discrimination.
So there’s a couple of things that kind of go along with this. So there is the Employment Non-discrimination Act. So I have had episodes of this podcast in the past from a while ago where I’ve talked about ENDA and the importance of it, and why we need to get this thing going. And the bottom line for those of you who don’t know what ENDA really is about, but it’s basically- and I’m reading this from the Human Rights Campaign’s website and I have a link in the show notes so you can see the entire- entirety of it. But basically they write, ‘Qualified hardworking Americans are denied job opportunities, fired, or otherwise discriminated against just because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. There is no federal law that consistently protects LGBT individuals from employment discrimination. There are no state laws in 29 states that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and in 32 states that do so based on gender identity. As a result, LGBT people face serious discrimination in employment including being fired, being denied a promotion and experiencing harassment on the job.’
So I think this kind of says it all, right? So in 29 states there are no state laws that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and in 32 states there are no laws additionally on sexual orientation but also gender identity. So let’s just think about that for a half a second. So we have this great thing called marriage equality. We have any person of the same sex can get married in all fifty states, and the District of Columbia. However when we look at this and we see that in 32 of those states, you can be fired, you can be denied a promotion, you can be denied housing, you can have harassment on the job, and that’s completely fine in the eyes of the law. That’s scary to me, that’s really scary to me. So there’s all these people out celebrating marriage equality is here, but yet at the end of the day so many people are in jeopardy of losing their jobs as a result of marrying the person that they love of the same sex over the weekend.
So I think that we really need to focus on ENDA and I have been- I’ve had my eyes on ENDA since 2013 I believe it was where I was spending quite a bit of time behind the scenes working with some of the largest national LGBT nonprofits who have all kind of rallied around together in a consortium of sorts where they’re all saying, ‘We need ENDA passed, we need to get some employment non-discrimination act through the House, through Congress, get it available so federally there is a protection for all LGBT people.’ And there’s a lot of players involved who are all trying to make that happen, but we are not there yet. And I think that’s the next logical step of things that we need to focus on, and I’m hoping that that does happen and I don’t know how long it could take, but I know that the last time I was reading about it, there was bipartisan support from both the Republicans and the Democrat, that this act needed to come through fruition. So I think it’s just a matter of having the right- the right leaders in place to make sure that it gets- it gets brought up to the Congress to be voted on. I don’t know when that’s going to happen but it is a little bit frustrating to me that we are not there yet, and I think part of the problem actually- and I don’t have a specific statistic to site, but I have seen that in a lot of instances the average American just assumes that that already exists. They just assume that there’s already federal protections for LGBT people, and that’s why it’s not as much of a hot button issue as some of the other things are.
So yeah there’s a lot of education to be had around it, but I’m hoping that with the marriage equality ruling and you know what was there being unconstitutional, I’m hoping that somehow that can affect us having this employment non-discrimination act which would protect every LGBT American in all fifty states.
And going back to earlier about people coming out, I think a lot of people- more people will be coming out as I had said, and I think Harvey Milk actually says it best where he says that every gay person must come out. As difficult as it is, you must tell your immediate family, you must tell your relatives, you must tell your friends if indeed they are your friends. You must tell the people you work with, you must tell the people in the stores you shop in. Once they realize that we are indeed their children, that we are indeed everywhere, every myth, every lie, every innuendo will be destroyed once and for all. And once you do, you will feel so much better.
I think that is a perfectly beautifully well stated quote from Harvey Milk of how important it is to be out. So for the LGBT folks listening to this, if you’re not out, it’s really, really important that you do so. Clearly I couldn’t get any more out if I tried, obviously labeling myself and identifying myself as a professional lesbian, I am out for a living whether I like it or not, and I think it’s equally as important for you to be out. But again, kind of like we were talking about with allies earlier, it may be more difficult for you and I respect that. I completely respect where you’re coming from, but if you find a way to be out, I would encourage you to do so.
And this actually leads so perfectly into the book I’m working on, so I did indeed write a book in a day over the weekend on Saturday, but that was using a lot of materials that I already had, and stuff that was already kind of like in my brain and ready to be kind of firing out of my fingertips. The book I’m working on now, and have been working on for a little bit of time, will be launching on October 11, 2015, and I picked that day specifically because it is National Coming Out Day. So it’s not titled yet, this is- you know I’m still kind of early in the process of it, I have a lot of information around it. But really the core of what I’m going to be talking about is the power of coming out. The power that you hold as a professional, as an LGBT business owner, as an entrepreneur; how important it is for you to be out in those particular environments. So being out socially is different than being out professionally, or being out socially versus being out as a pillar of your community, as a business owner, but also being gay or LGBT.
Great things for the next book…
So that’s really going to be one of the things that I’m focusing a lot on in this next book, and I’m hoping that it will be helpful. And I- in kind of an adaptation of Harvey Milk’s quote, I heard somebody say the most political thing you can do in your business is come out. So my question ends up being if you’re not out in your business as an LGBT business owner, why is that? Let’s talk about that. And that’s really what this entire book is going to be about. And it will be about leveraging one particular business resource that I’m aware of and I have been preaching to you for many years at this point. That less than 1% of LGBT business owners actually taking advantage of, and it’s a really an elite group of really amazing LGBT business owners. So why wouldn’t you want to be part of that? Be part of that currently less than 1% of people who are taking advantage of it.
So that’s going to be the next book that I come out with, and I am starting a mailing list for people who are interested in receiving information about it for when it becomes available which I will have a link on my website for, for today’s show notes again at www.JennTGrace.com/61. But you will also be able to- if you go to www.JennTGrace.com/LGBT-entrepreneurs, you can check out that list too and I will eventually make that URL a little bit easier when I have figured out the name of the book. But currently it is nameless, and I’m just waiting for the must to hit me and to figure out exactly what the name needs to be. But right now I’m not there yet, but I would love for you to kind of just stay up-to-date. If you’re on my mailing list already, you’ll already be up-to-date but if you want to know about this specifically that, by all means go check that out because I’m hoping that the book will share tips from what- who I feel are some of the most powerful LGBT business owners, that are in the marketplace today. They’re people that I know personally, that I’m friends with, that are doing amazing kick-ass things. And I want you to be able to learn from them. So that’s kind of- it is what it is. So feel free to go check that out.
Wrapping things up..
So I have been talking for at least 56 minutes, and I’m starting to get tired. So I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode, it’s been awhile since we’ve had an episode of just me and you kind of talking and you know after this one we will be back on our regularly scheduled programming of July 9th will be the next one and then every other week you will have a new podcast coming out. And all- I have a ton of podcasts lined up and ready for you that are going to be amazing. I have them all lined up through September, actually. And there’s just a couple of them, so if you’re interested in coming back for specific ones, in episode 62 I’m talking to Jeremy Wallace who is a transgender advocate and doing amazing things. Has a great book that I managed to read in a matter of twelve hours. And episode 63 I’m talking to Alice Derock who is the founder of the lesbian sex toy empire called Wet For Her; it was a really interesting conversation and certainly words that I did not think would ever come out on this show were said many, many times, so if that’s of interest to you, she’s a- she’s really building an empire which is awesome. In episode 64 I’m talking to Bryce Summers who is the author of ‘Queer Sense Theory,’ and he really just kind of talks about the social dynamics that all impact us as LGBT people and as allies. Really, really interesting stuff. In episode 65 I’m talking to Rolla Selbak who is a producer, she is a filmmaker, she is an out Middle Eastern woman who is doing awesome, awesome things, and she was actually really funny to have on this show in addition to providing some really awesome stuff. Episode 66 I’m talking to Ann Townsend who is an author of LGBTQ Outing My Christianity. We’re going to be talking about- a little bit about her book, about upcoming books that she’s working on, and some technology stuff around app development that she’s also working on where she’s got a very, very firm focus on the LGBT community. And then in episode 67 we’re talking to Diane Conklin who has the business called Complete Marketing System, and she also does a lot for the LGBT community including having a foundation that supports LGBT youth.
So those are just the two, four, six episodes- six interview episodes that I am aware of that are coming up between now and the middle to end of September. So I hope that you not only enjoyed this episode, but you will also enjoy those episodes as well.
So thank you so much for listening to today’s episode. Please feel free to reach out to me; whether you go to my website, go through the contact form, find me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, however you’d like to find me. I am 100% available and I would love to talk to you. And again as a reminder, if you go to www.JennTGrace.com/61 for episode 61, you can find all of the links and the resources that I mentioned in today’s episode.
So thank you so much, I really look forward to talking to you on July 9th in episode number 62. Thanks so much and have a great rest of your week.