BEQ Today

Publisher’s Note: The Paradox of the Great Pause

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I have heard this period referred to as The Great Pause, a phrase that feels like the best description for the past several months and the foreseeable future as we grapple with life during the novel coronavirus pandemic. During this pause, we have been given an opportunity to think, to peer deep within and to collectively examine our circumstances. As our world and the mechanisms that power it slowed, we became less distracted beings — stay-at-home orders meant we were forced to focus.

To me, the world seems much smaller and, in many ways, more connected while simultaneously feeling chaotic and uncertain. Our hearts, minds and eyes are witnessing things that will forever change who we have been and who we choose to become. We have been forced to reckon with the ills of economic inequality, police brutality, racism, sexism and greed — unable to look away or ignore our own truth.

When things become smaller and connected, they make more sense to me. I can take responsibility for the things I understand and shed light on the things that feel dark and out of control. I found great fortitude in staying the course while enduring The Great Pause.

When we planned our 2020 issues, we set our summer focus on building global communities. We never could have guessed how prescient that theme would be. How do we build community while being physically distant? How do we connect to and uplift each other when most of us are living under stay-at-home orders?

In this issue, we are revisiting a few articles and video interviews from our spring publication that may have been missed while the realities of the global pandemic took shape. The stories of Molly Lenore of Moey, Inc.; Devin D. Smith of Ship and Anchor, LLC; Dr. Jonathan P. Higgins @DoctorJonPaul and Alexis McSween of Bottom Line Construction and Development, LLC speak to an inclusion construction zone.

Our new normal includes some profound changes in how we live, work and play. We are now looking at what it takes to build community in an era of social distancing. A bit of a mind bender at first, I admit. But, upon closer inspection, we found plenty of evidence of how LGBTQ+ Ally businesses are building our global community and collective voice.

Our cover feature is our first interview with the Human Rights Foundation’s president, Alphonso David. At the intersection of LGBTQ+ and BIPOC, David urges us to keep fighting for an equitable world.

There’s something about Soulphia, for sure. This startup in my opinion is building the foundation of global communities. Aided by technology, a partnership with Seattle-based Educurious and their amazing group of founders, Soulphia is making a difference by helping homeless women in the NYC-metro area become English-language tutors for students in Brazil. Transforming the untapped talent, life experience and dire circumstances of 50 tutors so far into a valuable service helping people in another country with conversational English is nothing short of genius and quite disruptive.

Disruptive is the perfect description for Dr. Tiffany Jana, a non-binary, certified B Corp founder, TEDx & Top 100 speaker, diversity innovator, crisis coach, pleasure activist, regenerative culture creator, award-winning author who is also affectionately known as the blue-haired maverick. Dr. Jana joins me to discuss their newest book, Subtle Acts of Exclusion, (spoiler, it’s a bit of a rebrand for the word microaggression) and their insights on authenticity as a queer business owner.

Desmonde Monroe of New York-based The Monroe Group is recovering and revitalizing communities during and after a disaster or crisis. This LGBTBE® founder credits his mother, the late Anna Ford, for his drive for social justice, equality and fairness. We sat down with this young visionary and alumnus of our BEQ Pride 40 Leaders Under 40 list to ask him about building inclusive, resilient communities that promote economic opportunity.

In an ideal world, pocstock might not need to exist, according to co-founder and chief executive officer Steve Jones. This premium stock photo service focuses on images of people of color sourced from photographers in diverse communities around the world. But pocstock is more than just a premium image service, it is leading the conversations around inclusion, authentic representation in media and reshaping biased narratives with their community programming and outreach. I recently attended their #BlackDadChallenge fireside chat moderated by none other than Dee C. Marshall from our Spring 2019 feature on women finding success in peer accountability through a mastermind.

Let me remind you, all this global community building by amazing business owners has been happening against the backdrop of a global pandemic, social and political unrest and an economic disaster. Again, the paradox — so much good in these times of disruption.

Speaking of disruption again, I want to clearly and unequivocally state that Black lives have always mattered to me, not only because I am a Black woman, but because I have always believed the economic empowerment of the Black community depends on the social and economic empowerment of all diverse communities and it appears many around the globe agree.

Changing outcomes for my community has meant that I had to find a piece of the world I could do something about — LGBTQ+ business advocacy and allyship — and set out to make a difference, not too much unlike the individuals featured in this issue. I sought out to share different perspectives and voices in the LGBTQ+ Ally business community — an inclusive narrative focused on an inclusive future.

I also realized I could lend what I felt was my small measure of privilege in an unjust world to help uplift, support and shine a light on the good happening to change the economic well-being and trajectory for the LGBTQ+ community. You see, in the paradox of the Great Pause I have a new-found understanding of my own privilege and power — I could have never given what I did not already have.

As we close the month of June and Pride, I want to challenge us all to pause and renew our commitment to equity, justice and freedom for ALL. I want to leave you with one more paradox, all lives do not matter until Black Lives Matter — let’s build the future we want.

Business Equality Pride (BEQPride) is the first publication from the BEQ family of national print and digital magazines exclusively addressing the needs of LGBTQ small-to-medium sized businesses, entrepreneurs and professionals.