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In conversation with queer small-business owners

Lord Browne, the former chief executive of BP, was discriminated against based on his sexuality in 2014; his high-rank position could not save him from inherent biases. He shared his experience as he resigned from his position on the occurrence of fidelity from his former companion:

“It was obvious to me that it was simply unacceptable to be gay in business, and most definitely the oil business,” said Browne, who had worked and dedicated 40 years of his life to his work.

Luca Simonazzi, an LBS MBA and president of the GLN, went through a similar battle.

He mentions that the Gay and Lesbian Network (GLN) of London Business School (LBS) hosted its first networking and meet event for the community to share their struggles through stories and created a space where students could open up about their feelings and sexuality.

"Italy is extremely conservative and you would not be out in most environments. It is only acceptable in fashion,” says Luca.

It was tough for him when he was formerly working in the M&A division for Citigroup in Italy. He shares that it took it time and courage to be out. The environment at Citigroup was much more comfortable and he decided it would be much easier this way to be open about it.

For Pride this year, I had the opportunity to talk to a few LGBTQ+ small business owners about their everyday lives and businesses.Even though it is not heard of yet, people from the community face everyday challenges which may lead to a slow growth self-development. The lack of opportunities and deep-rooted prejudices, which translate into situations such as being rejected on a job application only because of identity, show that injustice has not been completely abolished in the so-called "modern society".

While interviewing these small business owners, one such as Comedusa (Instagram @comedusa), I came across very inspiring and insightful individuals. The owners sell jewellery and believe that it should not be gendered. They also give shoutouts to LGBTQ+ community people who have a passion for jewellery and dressing up. Here is what they shared:

"Tbh Comedusa hasn't really faced any discrimination business wise. I guess that is because we are fairly small and haven't really reached a larger audience. This is an empowering page for all, and that focus will always be a priority no matter the difficulty even in the future."

They have not experienced any prejudice against them personally but mention that it is due small scale of their business.

Another small business owner Loveshimtrinkets (Instagram @loveshimtrinkets) also shared that the customers of her aesthetic small pieces are usually people belonging from LGBTQ+ community. However, she also shares:

"I feel sometimes when these heads try to capitalise and contact me that they are allowing the small business owners to promote on their page in the Pride Month for 250 rupees, which is very tough for small business owners to gather or earn this type of money. I believe this is very wrong of them to capitalise this way and the chance just shouldn't be given in the Pride Month but throughout the year. "

It comes as a slightly difficult reality check that even in 2021, there are people facing such complexities merely based on their gender or sexual identity, which in no case makes a difference in their skills or capabilities. Pride goes beyond the month of June, and there is still a need for change.

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