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    GGBA Message from Leadership: The Spirit of Pride: Taking Action to Lift Up Our Community

    By Imani Brown–

    June is Pride month and it’s time for LGBTQ+ celebration and community.

    And yet, to be honest, it is hard to imagine merriment and frivolity in times like these. Our world and our country seem deeply troubled.

    As a Black woman and as a lesbian, I feel like I have to pick which of my identities to be most concerned about depending upon the day and news cycle. People of color are being killed on the street, in the supermarket, and in church. Women’s rights and autonomy over our own bodies are being dismantled across the country. Decisions are being made by the highest court in the land that could affect marriage rights. And I can’t even begin to address the attacks on the Trans community, particularly kids. It’s a sad day in America. So where do I find my joy?

    I recall that Pride was a riot before it was ever a party or parade.

    Recently, I joined the board of directors of the Golden Gate Business Association (GGBA), the SF Bay Area LGBTQ+ chamber of commerce. It’s my first time serving on any board, and I joined because I believe in the mission: to champion opportunity, development, and advocacy for our LGBTQ+ and Allied business community. We advocate for positive economic, social, and political change while holding the key values of service, leadership, passion, diversity & inclusion, and success.

    For me, these are also the values that are the cornerstones of Pride month. So, when I think about what Pride means to me, it’s about asserting my dignity, beauty, and belonging. Pride is about celebrating and demanding my right to liberty and justice. And Pride is also about love for community and family.

    My favorite activity (and day) each June is the Dyke March in San Francisco. That’s where I find my community and safe space. Each year I spend the day walking around Dolores Park, saying hello to old friends, and making new friends along the way. It’s somewhere I know that my life matters. It’s where my wife and I feel seen and supported. No one judges me for my gender expression as a masculine-presenting woman. Dolores Park, the Saturday before the Pride parade, is the America that I love. It’s a vision of the ideals I wish we could live up to every day.

    My goal in working with the GGBA is to help establish this same sense of community and belonging within the LGBTQ+ business community—not just during Pride season, but throughout the year. That’s why I want to invite folks to Power Connect 2022, GGBA’s annual confab on June 17 at SOMArts in San Francisco. If you’re a small business owner or you want to start a business, I hope we see you there passing out your business cards. It would be great to see my crowd there, making connections to grow their business opportunities, empowering our community, and doing what we can to preserve our diverse LGBTQ+ culture in San Francisco. That’s the spirit of Pride—taking action.

    There will be challenges ahead. But I believe if we remember where we came from, and how Pride started, that maybe we’ll be alright. Dissent is patriotic, and we have to stand up for our rights. We need to work in solidarity with our partners in the struggle for justice, equity, and inclusion.

    I feel like it’s a cliché to quote civil rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer, but she was right to say that “nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” So, let’s make sure that this year’s joy in June was because we each took action to help allow someone else to feel a little freer.

    Let’s work on policy change over social media posts. Let’s work on lifting up the most marginalized among us and creating opportunity for all. I think that would be something to be proud of. 

    Imani Brown is a member of the Board of Directors of the Golden Gate Business Association and Principal Advisor for ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness arm of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She currently makes her home in San Francisco with her wife Jenny and their grumpy but sweet dog Callie.

    Published on June 9, 2022