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    Bring It – Your Voice Matters and You Need to Be Seen

    By Audry deLucia–

    We live in a time when being visible and making your voice heard changes the course of things; things like who has the honor of representing us in office, who gets to serve in our armed forces and who can get fired for being who they are. You may think that you don’t have the time and you can’t add much. You may not realize how important you are.

    We’re all busy—kept occupied by technology, commerce and economic survival. It can be challenging to feel empowered in the face of bigotry, social injustice, inflated economics and inescapable rhetoric. You’re not alone in wanting to take a vacation instead of taking a stand. And you know you’re not alone when you see others showing up, sharing their ideas, being seen. All it takes is choosing to be present and visible.

    When my company, ellaprint, joined the Golden Gate Business Association (GGBA) in 2013, I had no idea how it would impact my business. At the time, I was simply blown away that there was a business organization that not only accepted, but also celebrated all of who I am as a business professional—being heard as an expert in my field, and as a lesbian. It was empowering.

    This organization lifted me up and helped me to see my strengths. In a world that can so often be arbitrary and cruel—that sees preconceived assumptions before the human being in front of them—I found an unexpected home team in the GGBA. It is one that has since pushed me every day to become a better version of myself.

    Six years ago, I wouldn’t have imagined that my voice would move the dial forward for LGBTQ businesses here in California, and by ripple impact, throughout the U.S.; that I would make a difference in California utility companies, the California Insurance Commission and the NFL in seeking and hiring LGBTQ businesses, and in encouraging and mentoring future LGBTQ business leaders to thrive.

    Yet, my voice has made a difference, as part of a larger chorus of everyday business professionals coming together through the GGBA and giving what they can: leveraging our best skills, leading boldly with all of who we are and manifesting positive change.

    Throughout the GGBA’s 45-year history it has seen many changes. Indeed, what the community and its membership has needed has continued to transform over time.

    In 1974, it was to establish space for the marginalized LGBTQ businesses of San Francisco. In the 80s, the GGBA, like so many other nonprofit organizations, became a resource and a refuge for those fighting and losing the battle with HIV/AIDS. In the 90s and 2000s, it gathered strength and surfaced anew as a resource for San Francisco Bay Area LGBTQ businesses. And over the past decade, the GGBA has transformed itself yet again, into a business advocacy organization providing resources and opportunity for LGBTQ businesses.

    What you have to offer makes a difference. If ever there was a time to rise up, it is now: working together, pooling our voices, leveraging our strengths and collectively opening hearts, minds and the workplace.

    So, bring it! Bring your best bold, messy self to center stage, for it is your very passion—and every one of us has passion—which imprints itself on those around us in ways that we cannot imagine and may never see. The most effective way to impact and change the world around you is to become part of the change.

    Visibility matters, and adding your voice and your face—being seen in full color—embracing the challenge of continuing to become better and encouraging and supporting others to do the same is how we change the world. Each of us holds the power within us to inspire another. Engaging with the vibrant business community of the GGBA helped me to find the courage to tap into my power and to step up and be seen.

    I hope that each of you reading this will consider stepping up your engagement with the GGBA. You just may be the voice and the face who inspires the courage in another to stand up and be seen and add their voice to the chorus.

    Audry deLucia is the President of the GGBA. She is also the President and Co-Owner of ellaprint, a full-service award and commercial printing manufacturer: