Pride Month commemorates the significant impact lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have had on the world. This year’s celebration is particularly momentous, as it will mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots that sparked the modern LGBTQ civil rights movement.
As entrepreneurs, the LGBTQ community has certainly made its mark. It’s a 1.4 million-strong force that has contributed around $1.7 trillion dollars to the gross domestic product, the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce reports.
In honor of Pride Month, and of the businesses the women of this world have started in most every industry — from tech and marketing to fitness and fashion — we’re sharing words of wisdom from five LGBTQ entrepreneurs we’ve featured on our site.
For Maureen Erokwu, inspiration comes through visualization. She started Vosmap, a Google-backed firm that photographs the interiors of business, then uploads them to the tech giant’s Street View service. She has received numerous accolades and significant press coverage for her work. But she wasn’t always on top — in fact, her career began with a lay-off. And when she looked for inspiration for her next move, she had trouble finding role models who resembled her as an out, African-American woman. Since then she has made sure to be there and be present for other women like her — to show them that they, too, can persevere and thrive.
Serial entrepreneur Vivienne Ming is all about maximizing human potential. It shows in her work — her ventures aim to improve teaching methods for students of all ages and help companies find talent more efficiently. Ming’s drive to simplify and improve people’s lives was borne from her own journey toward self-actualization. In her 30s, Ming started a new chapter in her life by undergoing the process of gender transition — a decision she celebrates to this day. “I challenge anyone to say I’m not better in every way now,” she says.
[Related: Speaking to Transgender Customers]
Carla McKay, founder of wine app and website Crushed.com, revels in her empowering life as an out-and-proud entrepreneur. McKay, who is a lesbian, found corporate America stifling, and she wasn’t always at ease sharing her full self with colleagues. Over time, McKay grew frustrated, both with hiding a key part of who she is and the trajectory of her career. Becoming a business owner changed everything. “Once I made the leap to being an entrepreneur, there’s no one I didn’t tell,” she says. She’s been enjoying her work, and herself, ever since.
LGBTQ business owner and publisher Deb Di Gregorio had to tap into her resilient nature over decades of entrepreneurial ups and downs. In 1982, she launched Camarès Communications, an enduring, successful marketing and business-strategy firm based in Maplewood, New Jersey, that helps up-and-coming tech companies develop web presences. She says her temerity and humor saw her through shaky economic downturns — and the tough time when society was even less accepting of LGBTQ individuals.
Pat Law was born to stand out. The founder of Singapore-based social media agency Goodstuph has developed for herself a reputation for being bold and unconventional in her prosperous but socially conservative city. Law’s fierce commitment to living her truth, no matter what, is definitely inspiring. And from a business standpoint, that tough persona seems to have aided her success — revenue projections topped $8 million when we last spoke with her, and her client list includes the likes of Sony and Sephora.