In 1981, nine gay business owners, including attorneys, insurance agents, and bar, and bathhouse owners, got together and recognized that in order to support each other, they needed to identify other gay-owned businesses. Hence, they founded GSBA.
With time, GSBA evolved from a networking group to a chamber of business leaders using their economic position to address the rampant discrimination and harassment faced by the LGBTQ+ community, most especially in public agencies, such as the fire and police departments.
Having met its initial charge, GSBA focused on strengthening the LGBTQ+ community economically and is now a strong, vibrant, and diverse association of influential business leaders. Today, GSBA is the largest and most active LGBTQ+ business chamber in North America, serving 1,400 members across Washington State.
Recognizing the lack of support for LGBTQ+ students, GSBA members founded the first LGBTQ+ Scholarship Fund in the United States, to provide support, encouragement, and financial resources to the next generation of leaders. To date, the fund has awarded over $5 million in educational support to hundreds of outstanding students who, even today, may receive no traditional means of support.
The advocacy side of the organization continues to grow, with GSBA actively engaged in public policy work and sponsoring the LGBTQ+ community’s annual candidate forum. GSBA is proud of the leading role it had in advocating for same-sex domestic partnerships laws, which led to the historic passage of Washington State’s marriage equality law.
With over 120 events, workshops, and opportunities to engage per year, GSBA provides a wide variety of business development, networking, and social opportunities, including its three gala dinners: EQUALUX, a fundraising dinner and auction for the GSBA Scholarship Fund; the Business and Humanitarian Awards Dinner, which celebrates excellence and the philanthropy of our business leaders; and the Scholars Dinner, at which GSBA presents its scholarships.
GSBA is a unique business chamber, in that in addition to promoting business, it advocates for equality and diversity in the workforce, continuing its commitment to combine business development, leadership and social action to expand economic opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community and those who support equality for all.