The Voices of LGBTQ+ Womxn & Entrepreneurs

Understanding each other’s humanity makes us all better.

I repeat:

Understanding each other’s humanity makes us all better.

Better individuals.

Better friends, siblings, lovers, partners, family members.

Better clients, better business owners. 

Better members of society at large.

Which is why, as I continue to shine a light on humans and the multidimensional facets of our lived experiences here on this blog, I am striving to give voice to intersectionality(ies).

For empathy.

For inclusion.

For amplification.

For the rise of the individual and the collective.

This month, I interviewed a group of beautiful humans who were generous enough to share nuggets of their stories as members of the LGBTQ+ community. Speaking to their identities, how they intersect with their lives as entrepreneurs, what Pride means to them. It is an honor to share their voices. We are all better for them.

And this is your reminder that Pride is a 365 day/year way of life, my friend. 

Sydney Greene, Registered Dietitian and Founder of Greene Health LLC

{Identifies as gay}

Pride to me is about showing up authentically, no matter what. 

Throughout my professional career (and life), I have been in situations where I am forced to “come out” again and again and again. Here’s an example: I was at a networking event where someone asked me, “what does your boyfriend do for work?” At that moment I could have gone back into the closet and just answered the question like I have done so many times before without correcting them. Sometimes it’s just easier to pretend I’m straight and “fit in”.  

However, as I settle into my identity as a gay, sober, woman I responded by saying, my girlfriend works in tech. What happens in many of those moments is I then need to hold space for the other person as they get embarrassed and apologize. It is exhausting for both of us. 

You can support my community by not assuming my sexuality. I happen to present fairly feminine, so most automatically assume I am straight. Yes, I am proud to be gay and I am fiercely committed to showing up authentically in this world, but I would be lying if I did not have to confront the tiny part of shame that still lives inside of me every time I have to correct somebody and say “not boyfriend, girlfriend”. A fun way to put this into practice is to go to a party and assume everyone is gay unless they tell you they are straight and then reflect on that experience. 

Natasha Gross, Sales Product Specialist @ Twitter, Co-Founder of All The Feels, LLC

{Identifies as bisexual}

My entrepreneurial journey has been directly influenced and inspired by my sexual awakening. 

I was sexually abused as a child, but didn’t start to process the trauma until my late 20s/early 30s. Through my healing journey, I started to become aware of how I had shut myself off from my body and from desire, and how I had spent the majority of my life feeling shameful around my sexual curiosity and precocious nature. 

The more self-love I practiced and self-growth I strived for, the more I came to terms with my lifelong desire to be with women – I just never had the confidence to explore it. Healing through trauma, learning to love my body, and honoring my intrigue of being intimate with women is part of the reason I started All The Feels with my partner who was already on a mission to help men with their issues and together we can help people overcome obstacles that arise in relationships, dating, and sex lives. My mission is to help other women who have struggled with self-doubt and body shaming – especially those like me who have dealt with sexual abuse – and that learning to feel deserving of pleasure can heal wounds, if practiced safely. 

Maria Eilersen, Founder of Be Conscious PR

{Identifies as queer/bisexual} 

I’m a third culture kid – born in Denmark, grew up in Japan and Canada – so from a young age, I felt like an outsider. After graduating high school in Tokyo, I moved to New York for university and eventually started my career in fashion journalism. Visa issues moved me across the pond to work in London where I crossed over to PR, heading up communications for a global travel company. I ended up staying in London for six years before relocating to Lisbon during the pandemic. 

Moving around so much, I was eager to belong in each new home and inadvertently repressed the part of myself that would make me stand out. 

Coming out in my late twenties after an immersive yoga teacher training in Guatemala changed the trajectory of my life, allowing myself to be truly seen for the first time. That gave me the confidence to reject the kind of success I’d been taught to pursue and instead launch a business that both supports slow living and makes a positive impact on the world. 

Ending up in PR does not feel like a coincidence, as it’s invited me to step into the spotlight and empower others to do the same.

Here’s what you can do to be an ally to queer people all year:

  • Support the LGBTQI+ community every day –  not just during Pride month
  • Amplify LGBTQI+ voices by re-sharing content and financially supporting content creators if you’re able
  • Donate to and/or volunteer for LGBTQI+ charities
  • Support LGBTQI+ businesses and service providers by buying from them, hiring them and/or promoting them to your network and on social media
  • Call out transphobia, homophobia and biphobia when you see it
  • Educate yourself and your peers on LGBTQI+ history and stay up to date on our issues and progress towards equality worldwide via LGBTQI+ media outlets such as PinkNews Openly, Gay Star News, Out Magazine & the Gay Times
  • Offer scholarships or concession rates for members of the LGBTQI+ community to make your services/products accessible

(Check out Maria’s newly launched PR scholarship for LGBTQI + and BIPOC folks right here)

Cari Sekendur, Principal & Creative Director, Butter

{Identifies as queer / lesbian / gay}

Starting from the beginning, I majored in Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies in college, and that shaped my worldview. My career path hasn’t been straight (not pun intended) forward, but I’ve always been guided by a queer feminist lens. 

Now, as an entrepreneur, the mission of my design studio, Butter, is to amplify and grow businesses that are focused on driving equity, community, sustainability, and joy. It’s been a natural fit for us to partner with companies advocating for LGBTQ+ folks, because we (myself and fellow queer team members) are them, we know their audiences and believe in thier missions. 

As creatives, our work shapes how people view and engage with companies, and I take that responsibility very seriously. Because of that, we’re selective about who we work with, making sure that there’s values alignment and we’re all working towards a common goal: shaping a more equal, joyful, and sustainable future.

Crystal Whiteaker, Inclusive Brand Consultant 

{Identifies as queer/bisexual}

I bring the ‘B’ in LGBTQ+, but I identify publicly as Queer. My story has been a journey to say the least. It took me a long time to get comfortable with sharing my identity publicly, and I credit the comfort I have now to the internal work I’ve done alongside the support of the community I have around me. 

There is a phrase called “bisexual erasure” which essentially invalidates the identity and experiences of bisexual people based on who they choose to partner with. (Examples include people who are in relationships with someone who identifies as the opposite sex being recognized as straight; and people in same sex presenting relationships being identified as gay or lesbian.)

Throughout my adult life, I dated and entered into partnerships with men, leading most people (unless they were close to me) to assume I was straight. The men who were aware of my identity fetishized the idea of two women being together, which made me less comfortable in connecting with the lady loving side of myself. However, I always noticed when I was attracted to women and I can pinpoint to exact moments and women where I denied my feelings, primarily out of fear of fetishization and being othered.

I had felt othered so much already in my life, that adding women to the mix seemed like a detriment to my experience and unfortunately this is a reality for many bisexual women, especially if they have additional intersectionality in their identity. 

Now, I’m at a place in my life and with myself where I’m more focused on following my intuition and allowing myself to be open to whomever I develop feelings and attraction towards, regardless of their gender identity and that is the ultimate form of Pride for me.

Shakivla Todd, Social Media Manager at IFundWomen 

{Identifies as queer}

My entrepreneurial journey as a budding photographer intersects with my queerness because I love to capture moments of authenticity, pride, happiness, strength, and personality—and that’s all what queerness is to me tbh. It’s important. 

I also strive to prioritize capturing queer folks in my work. The majority of my clients are white women entrepreneurs, but I always open up my calendar to my queer friends and community. A group of photographer friends and I help a community portrait pop-up last month where we held an open call for free portraits for Queer & Trans Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC). It’s imperative to make our stories and our presence visible and loud, and one way to do that is capturing our aura while we’re alive and thriving on camera. 

Raquel Martos, Anxiety coach

{Identifies as lesbian}

I was outed when I was 15, and always felt like an outsider.

This caused me to leave my small Spanish hometown as soon as I turned 18 for Madrid, and eventually follow my lesbian friends to London. Moving abroad liberated me from the expectations placed on me growing up, allowing me to embrace who I am and confront past traumas. 

With my newfound confidence, I pursued my interests in alternative healing methods such as Emotional Resolution, NLP, Hypnotherapy and EFT, and now I help other millennials connect to their true desires and overcome the emotional blocks that stand in their way.

Also, moving to Lisbon last year with my partner marked the end of chasing career status and other people’s idea of success, and instead choosing to create the life of our dreams.

(Partner is Maria Eilersen, featured above <3)

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