On April 18, Inland Northwest Business Alliance (INBA) hosted the first-ever LGBTQ Community and Business Expo in Spokane. The intention of the event was to provide the LGBTQ community and general public the opportunity to connect, learn, and engage with businesses, non-profits and professionals who are supportive and part of the LGBTQ community.
The day’s schedule was packed with impressive seminars offered to community members and business professionals each sharing their reason for supporting the LGBTQ community as well as helpful and informative advice about small business development job searching and other practical tips for attendees. I had the great opportunity to attend an afternoon seminar “The LGBTA Community’s Next Challenge” where I had the chance to hear from community members on concerns that they believe face the LGBTQ community in Spokane.
Four topics were discussed by the panel, which included community members Jude McNeil, Odyssey Youth Center; Helen Bonser, Spokane PFLAG; and Charles Smaltz, INBA and Spokane PFLAG.
- Human and Civil Rights – the need to educate the mainstream community about LGBTQ equality
- Transgender and Gender –Building support and community recognition for all members of our community.
- Supporting LGBTQA Youth – the need to develop supports for youth experiencing homelessness, safe schools and abuse.
- Support for Communities of Color – while sometimes racism is not visible, it is there. It’s not only in the mainstream communities, but in the LGBTQ community and we need to forge partnerships and methods of education and outreach to ensure that all members of our community are treated with respect and encouragement.
Pride Foundation recognizes and has been working on many of these concerns and address them together with the help of our donors, volunteers, scholars, grantees and community leaders. Through supporting R74 and the Comprehensive Immigration Reform, we are continuing to move equality forward for all members of our community. Additionally, Pride Foundation recently received funds from the Gates Foundation that are being leveraged to support organizations that are collaborating with mainstream organizations to address homeless LGBTQ youth.
Pride Foundation is a proud member of the INBA and is honored to have taken part in the first annual event. I look forward to continuing to work along-side many of the community leaders that attended to tackle our communities most challenging topics. It is only through community support and collaboration that we will be successful and ensure equality and fairness for all.