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    Building Bridges While Tearing Down Walls That Divide Us – GGBA in 2019

    By The Golden Gate Business Association Board of Directors–

    Ricardo Lara, who was sworn in on January 7 as our state’s Insurance Commissioner, is California’s first openly LGBTQ statewide elected official. At the ceremony he said, “California’s Department of Insurance is the largest state consumer protection agency in America. We are the Department of Fair Deals, the Department of Fresh Starts, the Department of Rebuilding Your Home, the Department of Protecting Your Investment, and the Department of the Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow. In short, we are the Department of Hope, and we have never been more important.”

    These are historic and unprecedented times as the Golden Gate Business Association (GGBA) enters our 45th year of championing the economic needs of the LGBTQ community. If we are going to have hope, we are going to need to collaborate, build bridges and renew our commitment to the economic vitality of all communities.

    Since we are a mission-driven organization, there is much work to be done to achieve economic equality for the LGBTQ community and our members. For example:

    • We are shocked, and saddened, by the fact that 39% of all homeless youth in San Francisco are from the LGBTQ community. With current trends of intolerance growing throughout the U.S., we fear this figure may grow as more LGBTQ youth arrive in San Francisco and throughout California.

    • As one transgender participant in our 2018 LGBTQ Economic Summit pointed out quite clearly: “How can I think about starting my own small business when I can’t even get someone to call me back for an entry level job?”

    • A consistent theme highlighted throughout the 2018 LGBTQ Economic Summit is an overwhelming lack of LGBTQ business/corporate role models for millennials and an inability for many LGBT entrepreneurs to access capital to build their businesses and take their products to market.

    To address these issues and the countless others our LGBTQ community is currently facing, the GGBA has vowed to increase its efforts to build effective coalitions with service-providers who have existing programs/services that we can augment and amplify. We are committed to engaging our entrepreneurial skills to develop new and innovative ways to address these challenges. We can bring government, the diverse business community and nonprofits together to create sustainable jobs and economic growth. This effort is going to take energy, vision and commitment.

    On Friday, February 1, Power Lunch V: Bridges will celebrate the GGBA’s commitment to building bridges across economic, geographic, cultural and inter-community boundaries throughout the last 45 years. As the world’s first LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce, GGBA, through Power Lunch V: Bridges, will showcase several extraordinary people who personify our community’s ability to expand opportunities, build collaborations, strengthen existing relationships and forge new and forward-thinking initiatives that lead to sustainable economic growth for our community and our businesses.

    Join us in our mission to create sustainable and meaningful jobs, to collaborate with a wide range of industry and community groups, and to foster the innovative entrepreneurial spirit that will propel our community forward.

    To learn more about the GGBA:


    GGBA’s Power Lunch to Feature the United Nation’s Free & Equal Global Campaign

    More than a third of the world’s countries criminalize consensual, loving same-sex relationships, entrenching prejudice and putting millions of people at risk of blackmail, arrest and imprisonment. Many countries force transgender people to undergo medical treatment, sterilization or to meet other onerous preconditions before they can obtain legal recognition of their gender identity. Intersex children are often subjected to unnecessary surgery, causing physical and psychological pain and suffering. In many cases, a lack of adequate legal protections combined with hostile public attitudes leads to widespread discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people—including workers being fired from jobs, students bullied and expelled from schools, and patients denied essential healthcare.

    In July 2013, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) launched UN Free & Equal—an unprecedented global U.N. public information campaign aimed at promoting equal rights and fair treatment of LGBTI people. In 2017, UN Free & Equal reached 2.4 billion social media feeds around the world and generated a stream of widely shared materials. National UN Free & Equal campaigns and events have been organized in almost 30 countries, with visible support from U.N., political, community and religious leaders and from celebrities in all regions of the world.

    The UN Free & Equal campaign is an initiative of the United Nations Human Rights Office and implemented with support from U.N. and non-U.N. partners at the country level. Several celebrities have been named as campaign “Equality Champions”—including U.S. singer Ricky Martin, South African musician Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Bollywood actress Celina Jaitly, Brazilian pop star Daniela Mercury and her wife Malu Verçosa Mercury, U.S. hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, and the band fun. Other prominent supporters—many of whom have taken part in campaign events—include South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, tennis legend Martina Navratilova, U.S. basketball champion Jason Collins, Indian actor Imran Khan, U.S. actor Zachary Quinto, and musicians Melissa Etheridge, Sara Bareilles and Rachel Platten.

    The past decade has seen important progress in many parts of the world in the lives of LGBTI people who have benefited from legal reforms and, in some cases, shifts in social attitudes. But such progress has been uneven. In most countries, protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is inadequate at best. Even in countries that have made

    significant strides, LGBTI people can face high hurdles, with studies suggesting that they are more likely than the general population to be bullied at school, treated unfairly at work and denied access to basic services.

    In 2000, the United Nations launched the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative. In 2011, the UN Human Rights Council endorsed a set of Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights that affirm that every business has a responsibility to respect human rights, and to address any adverse human rights impacts of their operations.

    Companies have important opportunities to foster diversity and promote a culture of respect and equality. Many firms have also found that doing so brings economic benefits—helping to attract and retain talent, improving decisions and building loyalty with customers and investors alike. Awareness of the role that businesses can play is growing, and many companies have already taken steps to translate a commitment to LGBTI inclusion into action.

    Even so, most are just beginning to grapple with these issues, and accumulated knowledge and best practices remain thin. The five Standards of Conduct are intended to help accelerate the pace of change. They set out the steps that companies can and should take to ensure equal treatment at work and to tackle discrimination in the broader community.

    The United Nations Human Rights Office encourages companies to endorse, use and refer to these Standards and to promote their use by others. It also encourages civil society and other stakeholders to use the Standards as a tool in assessing and reporting on companies’ commitments, policies and practices.

    The Five Standards

    At All Times:

    1. Respect human rights.

    All businesses have a responsibility to respect human rights—including the rights of LGBTI people—in their operations and business relationships. Businesses are expected to develop policies, exercise due diligence, and, in cases where their decisions or activities have adversely affected the enjoyment of human rights, remediate such impacts. Businesses should also establish mechanisms to monitor and communicate about their compliance with human rights standards. Where higher levels of human rights violations against LGBTI people have been documented, including in countries with discriminatory laws and practices, companies will need to undertake more extensive due diligence to ensure that they respect the rights of LGBTI people.

    In the Workplace:

    1. Eliminate discrimination.

    Employees and other people with whom the business engages are entitled to freedom from discrimination. Businesses should ensure that there is no discrimination in their recruitment, employment, working conditions, benefits, respect for privacy, or treatment of harassment.

    1. Provide support.

    LGBTI individuals are employees, managers, business owners, customers, and community members, among others, and yet many face formidable obstacles to workplace acceptance and inclusion. Businesses are expected to provide a positive, affirmative environment within their organization so that LGBTI employees can work with dignity and without stigma. This standard requires businesses to go beyond equal benefits and take steps to ensure inclusion, including addressing the specific workplace needs of LGBTI people.

    In the Marketplace:

    1. Prevent other human rights violations.

    Businesses should ensure that they do not discriminate against LGBTI suppliers or distributors, or against LGBTI customers in accessing the company’s products and/or services. In their business relationships, businesses should also ensure that business partners do not discriminate. Where a business partner discriminates against LGBTI people, businesses should use their leverage to seek to prevent that act of discrimination. This means looking beyond avoiding discrimination to address issues of violence, bullying, intimidation, ill-treatment, incitement to violence, or other abuses against LGBTI people that a company may be implicated in through their products, services, or business relationships. Companies should also ensure that they provide access to products and services to LGBTI customers.

    In the Community:

    1. Act in the public sphere.

    Businesses are encouraged to use their leverage to contribute to stopping human rights abuses in the countries in which they operate. In doing so, they should consult closely with local communities and organizations to identify what constructive approaches businesses can take in contexts where legal frameworks and existing practices violate the human rights of LGBTI people. Such steps can include public advocacy, collective action, social dialogue, financial, and in-kind support for organizations advancing LGBTI rights and challenging the validity or implementation of abusive government actions. Companies will need to undertake more extensive due diligence to ensure that they respect the rights of LGBTI people where higher levels of human rights violations have been documented, including in countries with discriminatory laws and practices.

    For more information regarding the Standards of Conduct, download the related booklet, which discusses the case for business to play a larger role in promoting LGBTI equality, and outlines each of the Standards in more detail:

    The U.N. also provides resources on how to use the Standards to empower LGBTI people in the workplace, marketplace and community:


    GGBA Power Lunch V Guest Speaker: Ricardo Lara

    Throughout Ricardo Lara’s career, he’s always stood up for working families and against injustice, even when doing so was difficult or unpopular. Grounded in his East Los Angeles upbringing and raised by a factory worker and a seamstress, Ricardo has built a record on bringing people together around tough challenges and delivering results that improve people’s lives.

    Elected as the California Insurance Commissioner on November 6, 2018, Ricardo is the first out LGBTQ person in California history to be elected to statewide office. He leads the California Department of Insurance and regulates the California insurance market. During his campaign, Ricardo said that “I believe at my core that California needs a strong defender, and a counterpuncher, who will stand up to fight our bullying President, Donald Trump, and his increasingly reckless federal government on issues from healthcare access to economic security and more.”

    In terms of insurance, how big is California’s market? According to the California Department of Insurance, insurers collect $310 billion a year in premiums in the state, making it the nation’s largest insurance market.


    GGBA Power Lunch V Featured Honorees

    Juan P. Novello
    Senior Vice President
    California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce

    Juan P. Novello serves as Senior Vice President at the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, where he manages the operations and internal strategy. He engages with Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, businesses associations, corporations and elected officials throughout California.

    Born in Mexico, he migrated to the U.S. at the age of 13. In 2012, Juan graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and with a focus in management and a specialization in entrepreneurship. Juan founded and led student organizations and was actively involved in his community while completing his undergraduate studies. He was an Inaugural Fellow for both the CLYLP Comcast Fellowship Program and the EQCAI Comcast Fellowship Program. These fellowship programs allowed him to learn about California’s politics and to develop a passion for public service.

    Through President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA), he was granted immigration relief. Juan’s undocumented status allowed him to develop a strong and unique perspective about life, and to share his experience with others.

    Juan lives in Sacramento with his husband Josh and near his adoptive fathers Eric and Michael.

    César Casas Ferrer
    President and Founder
    Mexican Federation of LGBT Businesses

    César Casas Ferrer is the President and Founder of the Mexican Federation of LGBT Business (Federación Mexicana de Empresarios LGBT) FME-LGBT.

    An accomplished entrepreneur acting as Director in several companies ranging from pet accessories to digital media, advertising, PR and movie production, César has a master’s degree in communications, PR and protocol. He also studied advertising, design, multimedia communications and arts. 

    His interests in empowering the economic development of the LGBT community led him to develop a Mexican LGBT chamber of commerce: Federación Mexicana de Empresarios LGBT. This Chamber not only empowers the economic development of the LGBT community within business agents and entrepreneurs, but also helps to enforce inclusion in companies and corporations, guaranteeing talent acquisition and diversity procurement programs.

    César has supported many government offices by leading them into diversity and inclusion. He further supports labor, tourism, and human rights, opening doors for the FME-LGBT and its members to effectively empower themselves.

    Fabrice Houdart
    Human Rights Officer
    United Nations

    Fabrice Houdart is a former Senior Country Officer for the Maghreb and managed a Nordic Trust Fund grant, “Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Development” that examined sexual minorities in development. He served as President of World Bank GLOBE, the Bank’s LGBT employee resource group. During his career at the Bank, he worked in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, first as a Human Development Consultant and later in country management units.

    He holds a B.A. in economics and management from Dauphine University and an MBA from American University. His efforts to promote diversity in the Bank were recognized by an ECA VPU Award and a Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Award in 2012.

    A U.N. Human Rights Officer since January 2016, Fabrice led an unprecedented initiative, #Biz4LGBTI, to engage the private sector on respecting and promoting the Human Rights of LGBTI people. He and his colleagues further work to strengthen the bonds of international cooperations around shared interests and values. The U.N. is the one place where all countries and citizens can unite behind collective action to address our greatest challenges and to deliver a better world for all. The UN Foundation supports the U.N.’s ability to tackle these challenges and to harness opportunities for the benefit of all humanity. As we head deeper into the 21st century, this task is more urgent than ever.


    Stonewall Inn Remains at the Forefront of LGBTQ Activism

    By Stacy Lentz–

    (Editor’s Note: The Fireside Chat of the GGBA Power Lunch V on February 1 will feature Stacy Lentz, Owner of the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City. She will be interviewed by Roy Hunt, Senior Vice President of International Franchise and Strategic Alliances at Gap, Inc. Ahead of the event, Stacy shared the below with the San Francisco Bay Times.)

    If you walk into the Stonewall Inn on a given night, you will find a mix of every walk of LGBTQ life drinking, dancing and sharing. Some of them enter with the awareness that they are, in fact, entering a place of history, whereas the majority do not. Unfortunately, they have no idea of what the brave men and women did in order to help give them equality. They don’t know about that fateful hot summer night in June 1969, when their ancestors decided to exchange their freedom for that of future generations. It is because of them that the queer kids of today can walk freely and enjoy the rights that were withheld from us for so long.

    Some of the younger generation sip on cocktails, watch inspiring drag performances, and remain oblivious to all of the work it took to get them there, in that space. They are blind to the activists and groups that formed after the riot and have continued to fight for 50 years so they could live their lives openly and freely, without fear of expressing themselves and of loving whomever they wish to love.

    I and my partners—Kurt, Bill Morgan and Tony DiCicco—have the goal of changing that. We want to make sure that the story of the riots and Stonewall Inn becomes common knowledge and that this bar with its rebelliously groundbreaking history remains active and at the forefront of the current struggle for equality.

    The Living History of Stonewall

    Bars have played such an important role in maintaining LGBTQ culture, as clearly our struggle for equality began in one. If bars are the churches of our culture, then Stonewall Inn is the mega church. It has become a place where people come to celebrate the victories of our community, and sadly, where they come to mourn our losses as well.

    This has not always been the case over the years. It took remodeling, rebranding and an entire staff—which is more like a family—to make Stonewall come alive again. If you walk in for Friday’s happy hour, you may find Kurt Kelly, the Operating Owner, behind the bar making jokes with a friendly crowd of locals and tourists. Kurt has managed to rally talented and dedicated people and to create a team of loyal Stonewall staff members.

    The Stonewall staff know that they are the Inn’s keepers of history and take pride in making sure that everyone who walks in has a good time. They are friendly and take the time to connect to the community members as well as to chat with tourists from all over the world. Many travelers make Stonewall their first stop while in New York. Most of them look forward to having a simple drink in a place with a not-so-simple history. A trip to the Inn is on many people’s bucket list, and we hope it stays this way for the generations that follow.

    The Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative

    We also knew that we had a responsibility to use the bar as a vehicle to continue to fight for equality, and after throwing hundreds of fundraisers and charity events for so many other nonprofits, we decided to formalize the process by creating our own 501c3: The Stonewall Inn Gives Back initiative. We realized the large disparity of being LGBTQ in a New York City or a San Francisco compared to a Kansas or a Mississippi, and really wanted to focus the work of the initiative on helping grassroot organizations in places where equality has been slow to arrive.

    Not only are the laws oppressive in certain areas across the county, but also the social stigma is definitely still there. Many in the LGBTQ community still face daily discrimination. Today, 28 states allow for the legal firing of people within the LGBTQ community. Many of these same states also allow for housing discrimination. Eventually, we would love to see the work of the initiative become global, as there are still some countries where same-sex interactions are ruled illegal, and still others where being LGBTQ is punishable by death. Something as simple as hand-holding might cost someone their freedom, or even their life.

    We have enlisted some incredible corporate partners who understand that they too have a responsibility to give back and that today’s consumers value that they do so. In order to win equality, we need to enlist everyone we can, as we still feel serious opposition across the globe. 

    As the Stonewall Riot’s 50th anniversary approaches, we want people to see it not only as a time of reflection, but also as an opportunity to honor all of those who came before us by continuing this fight. We at the Stonewall Inn are proud to help keep a living, breathing piece of history alive. We will continue our activism, and hope that the revolution that started there back in 1969 continues onward.  As world Pride comes to New York for Stonewall 50, we hope to remind the world, including the younger LGBTQ generations, that knowing and honoring our past is what allows us to change our future. 

    The Stonewall Inn is now a National Monument:


    A Powerful Voice for the GGBA Power Lunch V: Featured Artist Breanna Sinclairé

    By David Perry–

    Breanna Sinclairé knows a thing or three about the power of the human voice.

    “When I was a child in Baltimore, I begged my mother to be in youth choir,” says the statuesque mezzo soprano. “I sang my first solo at the age of six and my mother saw that I lit up with excitement. People in the audience were amazed and shocked that a toddler could sing with such strength and passion.”

    Strength and passion are but two of the many descriptors of the unique talent brought to the stage by Sinclairé. Subject of the documentary film Mezzo, which screened at the 2016 San Francisco Transgender Film Festival, the 28-year-old singer is on a roll of operatic proportions.

    A graduate of the esteemed Baltimore School for the Arts, Sinclairé earned her B.F.A. at the Herb Alpert School of Music at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. Since her graduation from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, she has gone on to wow and win over audiences across the world, and around the country, most recently making her debut with the San Francisco Symphony. Famed as the first transgender singer to perform the National Anthem at a major American sporting event, Sinclairé now brings her gifts and her powerful journey to the GGBA Power Lunch V on February 1. She knows it’s about more than the music.

    “Trans folks are still fighting for their civil rights, especially trans women of color,” says Sinclairé, very much aware of her dual roles within the community: artist and activist. “We are being murdered and disrespected. I want the attendees at the GGBA Power Lunch to know that trans people are human; we can be whatever we want: opera singer, doctor, lawyer, you name it.

    No one who hears Sinclairé’s voice has any doubt as to her talent—or her power. There were more than a few wet eyes and applause-tired palms following her performance before international cultural leaders at the recent World Cities Culture Summit in San Francisco. However, along with the high notes and high fives, there have been low moments.

    “My family disowned me,” she says simply and without malice. “Now, I have a beautiful LGBT family in San Francisco, including my fiancé Michael Pembridge. He is a strong man and has been my rock through thick and thin. His strength amazes me and keeps me on my feet. During one of my gender transitional surgeries, I almost died, and he stood by my side and slept with me in the hospital until I was back on my feet. He is my hero.”

    Certainly, Breanna Sinclairé has become a heroine to her brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ+ communities, and beyond. Artistically, does she have a hero of her own?

    “Jessye Norman!” She answers quickly and with enthusiasm. “She is a tall, strong and powerful singer: a black woman with class and her voice is divine! I used to worry that I was too tall to do this, and that I didn’t feel ‘normal.’ But when I saw Jessye Norman sing, she had confidence and power. She inspired me to be all that I am today. What a gift she has!”

    Ditto for Breanna Sinclairé, gifted with a voice, a powerful narrative and a passionate commitment to her art and to her community. She is the perfect accompaniment to this year’s gathering of LGBT business leaders at the GGBA’s Power Lunch V, appropriately themed “Bridges.”

    “I want my voice to be a bridge,” Sinclairé says. “I hope that my voice opens the minds and hearts of people. I want people who hear my voice to know that my existence matters—and the existence of all trans people matters.”

    For tickets to this year’s GGBA Power Lunch, go to:

    David Perry is the CEO and Founder of David Perry & Associates, Inc. ( ).


    GGBA’s Make Contact

    When GGBA members are asked what they value the most about this LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce, many report that the monthly GGBA event known as “Make Contact” has proven to be invaluable as an ongoing opportunity to meet and collaborate with mentors, mentees, potential clients or customers and even new friends.

    While every Make Contact is unique, the series for 2019 was launched in a special location, the International Mark Hopkins Hotel’s “Room of the Dons.” The event honored veteran San Francisco business leader Jim Lazarus.

    Dubbed “A Remarkable Public Affair,” this first Make Contact of the year praised Lazarus for his thirteen years of leadership and service on staff at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. He has recently assumed a new role as State Director for the Office of Senator Dianne Feinstein. Lazarus accepted a plaque presented on behalf of GGBA by Audry DeLucia, President of the Board.