Small business owners joining LGBT Chamber of Commerce - pros & cons

Someone in my professional network recently mentioned how much identifying as an LGBTQI+ owned business has helped them. This month, I’m sorting out the various professional memberships and organizations that I belong to or sign my business up for.

It occurred to me to look into whether it made sense to join an LGBT Chamber of Commerce (whether national or local affiliate). I can’t imagine this is more effective than other basic marketing, but I know there are clients who want to support LGBTQI+ owned businesses & feel more comfortable using them.

To me - This looks really expensive for what it is (approx. $500/annual), although I bet during COVID you can apply and request a fee waiver/reduction. It also seems like social media and online platforms have changed so much since the chamber of commerce model made any sense or procured much benefit.

My quick searching of the benefits suggests that this is also one of those corporatization of queerness things that rubs me the wrong way (e.g., letting the privileged gays support one another and acting like more capitalism is good for the gays).

But I am a cynic - I do love connecting with other LGBTQI+ small business owners, esp in my field!

Thoughts? Experiences?


I haven’t joined one of the LGBTQI+ chamber of commerces, but I joined the “business for a better portland” which is like the progressive version of our local not-at-all-progressive business association.

I was also listed by the portland business journal as a GLBTQI+ owned business, which cost me nothing but requires me to fill in annoying forms.

I can wholeheartedly say both have helped my business, a ton. If I worked in direct client services like being a coach or a financial advisor, I could probably get 100% of my business off of referrals in that area.

But, I see your frustrations. I think about them as though joining them is like advertising in the local gay weekly, now that local gay weeklies are dying. It used to be those papers were pretty much funded by lesbian lawyers and gay real estate agents (and bars) taking out ads, but presumably, that paid off for the businesses because it is was so hard as a client to find a client services person that understood your needs.

Obviously, with your business being up-to-date on The Law or Financing As It Applies to Gay Clients probably matters a little less but heck, just knowing other GLBTQ+ business owners is valuable. And I dunno, I’d rather support my own community when hiring someone to help with my pet.

One other option, in normal times, for me, is that by teaching a class or donating as a business to my local GLBTQ+ center, I get the recognition and connection of being queer-owned while feeling overall less icky about like…ugh capitalism.