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Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Obama Effect

Barack Obama's historic victory has energized the longstanding struggle and hopes of America's civil rights advocates. His landslide win has brought much needed faith and optimism regarding our country's current situation and near future. And for the African American community in particular, his triumph has had an undeniable impact on diversity. What will it mean now for LGBT media? Have we won? And is Obama’s message of unity going to dispel the need to recognize and strengthen its parts?

Read On....

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Gay Vote

Today is Election Day 2008. To many (myself included), this day has been a very long time in coming. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was the longest presidential election campaign in U.S. history – it certainly felt that way many times over the past two years. It was also likely the most extensively covered U.S. presidential election in history. It was nearly impossible to escape the nearly blanket coverage of the election in many print, broadcast and online outlets, particularly over the past three months.

Read on......

Friday, October 17, 2008

GLAAD + Log Cabin Republicans = Major Hypocrisy

by Michael Volpatt, EDGE Contributor

For the last ten years of my life I’ve moved back and forth from San Francisco to New York, and have had the chance to interact with all sorts of people. As a small business owner who works ’virtually,’ I make my own schedule and live where I want to live, which is why I chose San Francisco as my home base.

When I moved back to San Francisco three years ago I was invited to have dinner with a group of new friends. During dinner the discussion turned to politics and one of the guests, named Scott, began to talk about his support for the Republican Party. Mind you, Scott is gay, and when I heard that he supported the Bush administration- and therefore their discriminatory policies- my blood began to boil.

Since then, every time I see Scott, I make it a point to ask him whether he’s changed his thinking to be in line with a party that openly supports the gay community, rather than the party that works actively to repress us. In person and via email I’ve tried to explain the fact (and it is a fact) that our rights as gay men and women (not to mention other rights, including Roe vs. Wade among others) will be challenged if the three supreme court justice nominations that will likely come up in the next election swing to the conservative side of the coin.

Read On......

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Gaydar Gun

I met an actor turned entrepreneur the other weekend at an art exhibit for Tom Bierdz.
Terry Ray, producer and actor of Gaydar, a short comedy received so many requests for a Gaydar gun since he made the movie, that he decided to take the bull by the horns and offer the movie prop to the general public.

Click here to read more.....

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Out and Equal 2008

This past week I attended the 2008 Out and Equal Workplace Summit which is the largest GLBT business event in the country. The Summit was attended by over 2200 GLBT business professionals, mostly from Employee Resource Groups (ERG) of the major Fortune 500 companies.

The Summit took place in Austin, Texas this year and boy was it hot and humid. Us Angelenos are not accustomed to such humidity so it sure was a shocker. Fear of Hurricane Ike loomed over most of the attendees heads and was a major topic of conversation as the event progressed. I personally cut my trip a day short to prevent a prolonged stay out of the office.

But aside from the weather, the Summit went off as usual without a hitch. It has been running now for over 10 years and the organization leaves no stone unturned. The Summit consists of many workshops that focus mainly on how to improve one's ERG. However, there are also other topics including marketing and human resources.

I attended 2 of the workshops from the event's menu. The first was hosted by Matt Tuminello of Target 10 and Dan Whitman of the New York GLBT Center. The workshop focused on how corporate America can become more involved with non-profit organizations and how they can really benefit from the incredible branding opportunity while supporting great causes. The second was hosted by MergeMedia's Dawn Meifert and her client Doug Sanborn of Coors. Dawn and Doug made a great business case for marketing towards the GLBT community and discussed some of their market research to back up their facts.

Summits like these are the seeds for change in the GLBT business community.
There were two individuals who stuck out in my experience there. One was a gentleman who I met at the airport. He told me how he was the only "out" employee in his regional office of a major financial company. He discussed how uncomfortable he was in his working environment but was determined to create an atmosphere of inclusiveness. The second individual was a young lady from an aerospace company who revealed that she was made fun of in her office for attending the Summit. The perpertrators were not teasing her for being a Lesbian, but for just being so involved.

Author, Keith Boykin was one of the keynote speakers at one of the morning plenary sessions. What a great speaker! He regaled us on his experiences working for the Clinton administration and also revealed that he was a classmate of Barack Obama at Harvard. Boykin was also really proud to have his mother in the audience as he spoke.

So if you are involved in the GLBT business community on any level, I definitely recommend that you attend a Summit at some time in your career. It is amazing to be around so many like-minded individuals and is a fantastic networking event.

Sunday, August 31, 2008 Launches New Web Site

The only vehicle that connects the GLBT community with the franchise industry makes an online upgrade of its services.

August 31, 2008 – (Los Angeles), an online directory of mainstream franchisors reaching out to the GLBT business community, announced today the launch of its newly designed web site ( as part of a new overall visual identity to create more of an interaction with our visitors.

"Knowing that our web site is the only resource for the GLBT community to find gay-friendly franchisors, we upgraded it to ensure that potential franchisees will find the best and most up-to-date information available," said Michael Lamb, President of " continues to bring new equality-minded franchisors to our site and has now accumulated over 50 franchise opportunities. is a great tool to educate and engage the gay and lesbian community in franchising. Great Clips, the #1 hair care brand in North America is using to attract new franchisees to their concept. We believe the recession-resistant model, manager-run salons, and low start up costs are a great way for entrepreneurs within the GLBT community to keep their current jobs while growing their own businesses,” stated Melisa Peters, Franchise Marketing Coordinator for Great Clips.

As party planners, our business is all about creativity and fun. We’re excited to work with GayFranchise to help us locate vibrant candidates within the GLBT community that are as passionate about One Hour Parties as we are!” Says Leanne Mumm Pardo, Co-Founder of One Hour Parties.

The Gay and Lesbian community now commands a $712 billion dollar purchasing power in 2008 and is expected to increase exponentially in 2008. Research has also revealed that Gay Americans report being more optimistic and less concerned about finances than their straight counterparts.

Features of the new web site include:

Enhanced navigation
Compelling new look
New search function to find franchises easily
New rss feed of current franchise news and announcements
Rotational banners of our franchisors on every page
Using php technology, the site is picked up better by search engines

About, headquartered in Los Angeles, is the premier source for Gays and Lesbians to identify franchisors that understand the value of diversity and recognize the need to open their doors to new and diverse markets.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 Releases Quarterly Report on Top 10 Most Researched Franchises ( the only resource for the GLBT community to connect with diverse franchisors has recently announced their quarterly report on the 10 most researched franchise opportunities. Topping the list is V2K Window Décor and More. With an initial investment of under $50,000, this home-based franchise has drawn a considerable amount of interest from creative individuals in our community. Coming in the number two spot is Flip Flop Shops. The sandal retailer has caught the eyes of many trend-setting Gay and Lesbian potential franchisees.

Mirroring the diversity of the GLBT community, the focus this past quarter has ranged from interest in home décor to dry cleaning and restaurants,” stated Michael Lamb, President of “By accumulating over 50 franchisors in our directory has dispelled the myth that the franchise industry is averse to targeting our community.”

Top Ten Most Researched Franchises

V2K Window Décor & More
Flip Flop Shops
Adam & Eve
Bingo Lingo
Handyman Matters
Lapels Dry Cleaning
Guidant Financial
Right At Home
OXXO Cleaners

As corporate America continues to downsize and let go thousands of employees, the franchise industry has typically done well during economic downturns as many people begin looking for opportunities where they can obtain a little bit more control over their careers. The innovative GLBT community now has the chance to own a “business in a box” and run it being “out” at work.


Launched in January 2007, is dedicated to expanding America's economic growth by connecting the GLBT business community with equality-minded Franchisors. is the premier source for Gays and Lesbians to identify Franchisors who understand the value of diversity and recognize the need to open their doors to new and diverse markets.

Contact: Michael Lamb

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Let's Start Using "Love" Orientation

Blogger Ed Brayton at caught a hysterical guffaw by the American Family Association on their site OneNewsNow. As they were reporting on athlete Tyson Gay going to the Bejing Olympics, they forgot all about their site's censor that replaces all instances of the word "gay" with "homosexual." They have since corrected the error, but it is certainly worth the read.

With that said, I propose that we start evolving our own society's censor by replacing "Sexual Orientation" with "Love Orientation".

We all know how the right wing Christian organizations prefer to use the word "homosexual" rather than "gay" because they know that we don't like it and because they probably are able to raise more money for their causes. Homosexual is much scarier than gay. By the same token, "evangelical" sounds a bit more frightening than "christian."

Our history has brought us from the dregs of the mental illness myth to a growing acceptance amongst most Americans. Therefore, we moved away from the clinical definition of our community from homosexual to gay. I think this change in our brand has done wonders for our collective self-esteem but we have more work to do.

It has become common practice to use "sexual orientation" as a way putting us in a category. Like homosexual, sexual orientation is a cold dry phrase that completely lacks any sense of romance. Sex is merely a component of love. I think for most of us, our ultimate goal is to find love, not sex.

Let's start using "love orientation" when we refer to ourselves. Words are very powerful and I think it will help to put it in the heads of non-gay people that we are a very loving and compassionate people and there is way more to us than just our sex.

Sure, the Evangelicals will still use "sexual orientation" until kingdom come, but "love orientation" is a much better sell.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Gay Marriage Means Business In California

If you haven't been surfing the net lately, you would be sure to miss the Gay Marriage papparrazzi of companies vying for the Gay Marriage dollar in California. Check out when you get a minute. It's like I've always known, once people start to realize how Gays and Lesbians contribute to our society, hate will slowly melt away. One of the most powerful influences is "money."

From hotels to fire insurance, it seems as if we just can't keep up with all of the press releases coming down the pipeline as the Golden state gears up for a potential economic boom. The Williams Institute of UCLA School of Law predicts a $683.8 million boost in direct spending by same-sex couples over the next three years. (Hear that Arnold?)

Creating an emotional bond with customers is a strategic imperative for any brand, if you dare. I'm starting to notice that companies are finally starting to feel that bonk on the head that they were given years ago when we first started quantifying our purchasing power. Yes, tell us that you support our cause in addition to how great your products and services are. It will go a long way.

Outvite, although a gay-focused company is a great example of creating that emotional bond. In their recent press release, the title alone punches their salute to the California Supreme Court Decision and then they go on to promote their products and services.

The Rainbow Wedding Network must be brimming with the news as they plan their same-sex wedding tours traveling through major cities in California.

My favorite is the fire insurance. Kudos to Fireman's Fund Insurance for jumping on the band wagon. With all of the disasters California endures each year and the amount of money you have to slap down for your nuptials, I wouldn't be surprised if they started to set up kiosks on every corner.

So wait, let's do the math. The Williams Institute estimates that half of the estimated 100,000 same-sex couples in California will marry in the next 3 years. With an average wedding costing $27,000, hey! that's $13,500,000! Nice change!

The travel industry has been marketing to our community for years, but California's nod to gay marriage is lighting an even bigger fire under the butts of progressive marketing directors. Kimpton Hotels takes the lead by announcing their "Summer of Pride" campaign. The promotion extends a discount on hotel bookings in many gay-friendly cities throughout the country. Hello honeymoons!

All this hoopla makes me wonder why I'm not turning Echelon Magazine into Echelon Wedding and Business Magazine. But we are thinking.........

Michael Lamb
Editor in Chief

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Gays and the Recession

Posted 4/27/08

By Dawn Meifert, Merge Media

On the cover of today’s New York Times, "Recession Diet Just One Way to Tighten Belt". It is an article that discusses and discloses how Americans are jumping ship when it comes to their usual brands. They are staying at the Hampton Inn instead of the Hilton, buying Gain instead of Tide and Oh My God!!! buying Keystone Light over Corona Light. Seems to me corporate America really needs to start paying attention to the homos in this country.

I am sure that somewhere some religious zealot will say all this recession talk is part of a grand scheme thought out by the gays and their homosexual agenda to promote their financial superiority. It is a great idea, maybe we should have thought of this long ago! I do know that I have often wished that I knew what the agenda was/is and can I participate? Can I make a donation somewhere that will get me a bumper sticker? Some things we just may never know......

What I do know for sure is that we (the gays) will not be as affected by this economic downturn as most of our straight counter-parts and we have the numbers to prove it. Personally, none of our friends have scaled back in any way, nor do they plan to do so. Seriously, what self-respecting homosexual with an active social life would buy generic?

Just think, if all those brilliant marketers out there of America’s brands would apply the same rigor and investment in the LGBT community the return they would mine on that investment. This single decision would help to stem the slide of their brands and perhaps, save a few jobs. They would be hailed as visionaries!! That same decision would also pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the gay community, which in turn would create more spending.

Eight to ten percent of the population, located mainly in metropolitan areas, more highly educated and the most loyal demographic out there. Can someone please explain to me what in the world is corporate America waiting on??

Thursday, April 24, 2008

American Airlines Establishes LGBT, Women`s Cumtomer Advisory Groups - Expands Diversity and Inclusion Information on

April 22, 2008 - American Airlines, building on its long history of successful marketing to key customer constituencies, has established two advisory councils: one focused on Lesbian/Gay/Bi-Sexual/ Transgender (LGBT) travelers, the other on women travelers.

American was the first airline to develop specialty sales and marketing teams for these two important customer groups and for African-Americans and Hispanics, and has been the industry leader in establishing dedicated advertising budgets for African-American and Hispanic audiences.

Advisory Council members provide ongoing and ad hoc market feedback on American`s position within their respective communities. Additional duties are to contribute input on market trends, community concerns and program concepts that promote growth within these customer groups, including the content on two specialized marketing pages on American’s Web site: and Links to these pages appear on the Diversity and Inclusion main page.

New Human Rights Campaign Foundation Guide Helps Employers Create Fair Policies for Transgender Workers

“Transgender Inclusion in the Workplace” Offers Guidance on Policies and Practices to Ensure All Employees are Protected

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the nation’s largest gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender civil rights organization, has released a guide that aims to provide human resource and other employment professionals with best practices for transgender workplace inclusion—from discrimination and benefits policies to internal practices that reflect how gender is expressed and integrated in the workplace—as well as the state of legal issues encompassing gender identity in employment situations. “Transgender Inclusion in the Workplace” covers topics such as appropriate terminology with which to discuss gender identity and expression, the creation of policies that protect transgender workers from discrimination, and the expansion of diversity programs to include gender identity and expression.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

ExxonMobil: When Push Comes To Shove

Historically, corporations have outpaced governments as the agents of social change and within the past couple of years this reference has been duly noted in particular with the advancement of equality in the workplace for the GLBT workforce. However, there are evolving instances where government legislation is ahead of the pack and causes a profit-seeking corporation to scramble to be in compliance for a contract.

On July 1, 2007, the state of Connecticut passed Public Act No. 07-142 that requires all companies doing business with the state to have a non-discrimination policy that
protects employees including sexual orientation. Connecticut and California (along with several municipalities) are the only states that enforce this type of legislation on their contractors .

Exxon Mobil Oil Corporation, a subsidiary of parent company, Exxon Mobil Corporation has recently submitted a bid as a Connecticut state contractor and signed a certification on September 11, 2007 that they will adopt as their policy the nondiscrimination agreements and warranties set forth in the above legislation. The issue at hand concerns ExxonMobil’s reputation within the GLBT community as a company that does not include sexual orientation within their equal opportunity employment policy, but has permitted their subsidiary to comply with the state law in order to work on projects in Connecticut.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) publishes an annual Corporate Equality Index that scores companies according to their level of benefits and inclusiveness regarding their Gay and Lesbian workforce. Every year, ExxonMobil has scored a whopping zero out of one hundred. HRC’s site indicates an “R” or “Rescinded” next to the item – “Has a written non-
discrimination policy covering sexual orientation in its employee handbook or manual” on the Exxon Mobil page. While most Fortune 500 companies created non-discrimination policies based upon both sexual orientation and gender identity, HRC reports that Exxon Mobil Corporation has lagged in participating in this growing trend.

“The Human Rights Campaign appreciates the leadership Senator McDonald and State Representative Mike Lawlor have provided in Connecticut to advance equality. We hope that the Exxon Mobil Oil Corp. resolution will be a catalyst for further action—it is past time for Exxon Mobil to take company-wide action to prohibit discrimination against GLBT employees and provide equal benefits to GLBT families,” states Daryl Herrschaft, Director, HRC Workplace Project.Alan Jeffers, Media Relations Advisor for Exxon Mobil Corp disputes HRC’s claim. “ExxonMobil has policies in place that have zero-tolerance for discrimination or harassment. These policies are comprehensive in nature, rigorously enforced, and applicable to all employees wherever the company operates in the world. These written policies prohibit discrimination or harassment for any reason, including sexual orientation, in any company workplace,” states Jeffers.

Although Jeffers did submit to Echelon a Corporate Citizens
document acknowledging their inclusion of sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policy, Herrschaft indicates that the document submitted is non-binding and is not included in the company’s equal opportunity employment policy.

Whether Exxon Mobil Corporation does or doesn’t have a legal and
binding non-discrimination employment policy including
sexual orientation is still a battle to be fought with the Human Rights Campaign. In the meantime, the progressive states and municipalities that demand this policy from their contractors will be at the forefront of workplace advocacy.