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Giving Back at EQUALUX

Posted by Johnine Larsen on November 21, 2019
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This Saturday (Nov. 23), GSBA members and guests will attend EQUALUX, Seattle’s largest LGBTQ+ gala. Attendees will wine and dine and donate for a cause very close to my heart: the proceeds from this fundraiser will directly benefit the GSBA Scholarship Fund. This is one of the oldest and most active LGBTQ+ scholarship programs in the country, and I’m glad to have a part in it, supporting the next generation.

I’ve been a proud supporter of the GSBA for 26 years. As a lesbian business owner making my real estate start in the nineties, I appreciated the community I found in the GSBA. They created a home for me at a time when the rest of Seattle wasn’t as accepting, and my love for this organization has stayed strong ever since. Twenty-six years later, I’m fortunate enough to able to give back.

In 2019, the GSBA Scholarship Fund:

  • gave $500,000 to tomorrow’s leaders
  • supported 50 LGBTQ+ and allied students
  • 46% of recipients identified as trans and/or gender diverse
  • 72% of recipients identified as students of color

The GSBA (Greater Seattle Business Association) started ten years before I joined. It emerged in 1981 as Washington State’s LGBTQ+ (and allied) chamber of commerce, and it has since grown to more include than 1,300 members across small businesses, the corporate world, and nonprofits. The GSBA provides a community for people like me and many of my loved ones, and it also advocates for civil rights, supports small business, promotes LGBTQ+ tourism (Travel Out Seattle), and invests in tomorrow’s LGBTQ+ leaders. That last one is the purpose of EQUALUX.

EQUALUX, “a taste of the GSBA,” will bring together incredible local entertainment, food from some of Seattle’s top restaurants and celebrity chefs, top-tier Washington State wines, and wide-ranging auctions (both silent and live) to fund another year of GSBA Scholarships. Last year, this event raised $110,000.

Since the GSBA scholarship program began in 1991, it’s invested $3.4 million in “LGBTQ+ students who exemplify leadership potential, strong academic ability, and community involvement and dedication.” The scholarship fund doesn’t just provide money, either. It gives these students a support network, prepares them via skills-based workshops, and empowers them through a three-day leadership immersion camp.

The GSBA played an instrumental part in my own life, I can’t wait to see what EQUALUX and the GSBA Scholarship will accomplish in the next generation.

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