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We Still Have Pride in Trying Times- BoCo LGBTQ Community & the Pandemic

As pride month comes to a close in the midst of this truly unprecedented time in history, we want to highlight the LGBTQ+ voices of our community. As an ally, we stand with and support the communities and hope to spread information and resources to help others do the same. We conducted a few interviews with both Chamber Members as well as business owners to see what their experience has been, as well as hear some personal anecdotes on the community and their lives. 

Chris Senesi, the Chapter President of the Boulder LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce, provided some great insights into how the organization has been functioning during and, in spite of, the Coivd pandemic, as well as how individuals can continue to actively support the community and what the future may hold for LGBTQ+ individuals.

 

Q: How has the pandemic affected the LGBTQ+ community?

A: “It has really impacted everyone whether they are an individual or an organization. We (the Chamber) have been fortunate to not have not had too much negative impact, but many members were impacted in a negative way. Many brick and mortar businesses have struggled in terms of being locked down and unable to service their customers, and even now despite reopening there have been limitations. Some individuals are working in in-person businesses like massage and therapy which require seeing people in person. Figuring out how to keep up business during this time has been challenging. They’ve had to think of unconcenvtional ways to advertise what they are offering. We want to help generate business for LGBTQ+-owned and friendly businesses however we can. For example, we have been holding some virtual events centered around creating business awareness. We will continue to do whatever we can to support our members and the community.”

 

Q: What are some changes you would like to see happen (in legislation, the community, etc)?

A: “There are a lot of great initiatives happening right now. It really all starts with awareness. What organizations are out there? What are they doing? What actions can we take and are they already taking? There are some great grassroots organizations bringing awareness to the community. And with awareness, legislation will follow. Growing up gay, I found that a lot of positivity and change stems from working with LGBTQ youth. I would love to see young people, growing up, not be afraid to be themselves and being comfortable sharing with their family and friends who they are, and not having to hold back or be afraid. When we get to that place, there is acceptance all around and no one is questioning if they are wrong.” 

 

Q: With the recent Supreme Court ruling, how do you see the LGBTQ+ landscape changing in CO?

A: “It was a monumental and very exciting decision. It’s been a long time struggle. Colorado has been a progressive state, but now, it’s great to see that this has expanded across the country. This is going to allow the youth and employees to be able to stop feeling like they have to hide who they are. We need to be able to be ourselves and not hide something. We are not as motivated and dedicated as we can be when we don’t have to hold back. Now anywhere, employees can be more comfortable.”

 

Q: What are some ways for newcomers to learn about and get involved with the community?

A: “In Boulder County pre-Covid, we had a lot of networking events which are open to everyone and provided a way to connect with the community and network. It has always been open to everyone, not just businesses or Chamber Members. In the interim, we have been hosting many virtual events which can be found on our online calendar. These events are a great way to stay connected during this strange time. Out Boulder County is another great organization who also do a lot of virtual events like mixers, game nights, etc — all online. The virtual element can actually make it less intimidating for a newcomer, and therefore they are a great way to get involved if you haven’t in the past. These events are always open to everyone and anyone. Out Boulder County is also always looking for volunteers and The Chamber is accepting new members and volunteers as well.”

 

Next we were able to chat with LGBTQ+ Real Estate agent, and Chamber Member, Kevin Murray. Kevin is an agent at RE/MAX Alliance in Boulder and took the time to talk about his experience as a business person and community member.

 

Q: What has your experience been as a LGBTQ+ business owner/person in general in the Boulder area? Do you think your experience would be different in other areas of Colorado? What has been your experience during the pandemic or what challenges have you faced?

A: “My experience as an LGBTQ+ Real Estate agent has been extremely positive since I moved here three years ago. I’m very involved with Out Boulder County, as well as the Events committee for the LGBTQ+ Chamber of Boulder County so I’m connected to the community at large. The pandemic has certainly scared my clients from looking at houses in the beginning, but now everyone is realizing that with a mask it can be done safely. The market has been extremely busy overall.”

 

Q: With the recent Supreme Court ruling, how do you see the LGBTQ+ landscape changing in CO?

A: “Colorado has always been a very progressive area overall, and my experience in Boulder County since I moved here has been nothing but positive. I think people here live differently than in other parts of the US, they understand and support the LGBTQ+ community.”

 

Q: How can community members best support you and other LGBTQ+-owned/allied businesses during this time?

A: “The best way to support LGBTQ+ businesses is to reach out and use us through the LGBTQ Chamber, or Out Boulder County websites and then promote us by telling your friends and family about us. There are so many wonderful people in the LGBTQ+ community with such incredible expertise and knowledge that I have met in the three short years that I have lived here and I’ve also made some pretty incredible friendships as well.”

 

Q:Do you have a call to action you’d like to share? Any media (books, podcasts, shows, etc) you would recommend?

A: “With everything happening in the world today with all of the police shootings &  Black Lives Matter protests I’m doing everything I can to become a better advocate for people of color. I just started reading “White Fragility” by Robin Diangelo. I highly recommend it.”

 

We would love to hear from more LGBTQ voices in our community. If you are interested in sharing your story or personal experience as a Boulder County community member, please email [email protected]. Feel free to use any of the interview question found here to build off of in your responses.

 

For more ways to get involved and support the members of our local community, please check out the LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce website HERE as well as Out Boulder County website HERE

There are many great resources and events available to use from these organizations and we highly encourage anyone and everyone to make use of them! Thank you so much to Chris and Kevin for sharing their thoughts and experiences with us.

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