LGBTQ small businesses express importance of being out, proud during Pride Month

Published: Jun. 10, 2021 at 6:27 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - This week we’re taking a deeper dive into something we’ve been following across Georgia and South Carolina for months - LGBTQ rights.

According the Human Rights Campaign, a national group that is striving to end discrimination, more than 250 bills they consider anti-LGBTQ have been introduced in states across the country.

That includes similar bills introduced in Georgia and South Carolina that sought to ban transgender girls from playing girls sports.

In Georgia, that bill was introduced in the Senate but wasn’t voted on before the session ended. South Carolina’s bill was also tabled.

Pride month is all about celebrating being out and celebrating who you love, and local businesses say it’s an opportunity to show the entire Savannah community who they are and why their businesses are important, too.

Savannah is full of small businesses and many of those are LGBTQ owned. WTOC spoke to a few of them about the importance of being out and proud during pride month.

“Every day is pride to us.”

This pride many businesses are standing up and showing how proud they are.

“To be able to be in the limelight and not care what anyone thinks and just do what you are called to do is very important,” said Hattie Hicklen with Gentle Hands in Home Care.

Hattie Hicklen owns an in-home care business. As a member of the LGBT community she wishes more business owners were transparent about who they are.

“Mostly they just advertise black owned, black owned, they leave out the LGBT and I just wish more people would add that to it and let everyone know that they are going to be OK.”

It’s a trend other businesses have noticed as well.

“It’s very important to be LGBTQ open.”

Creative approach Director Bobby Jeffrey says if a business is open it reinforces an LGBT business is no different from any other.

“It helps those other owners and people in general knowing say, ‘hey their business is successful and they’re gay, so why should I stay in the closet?’”

The businesses know more than anyone, being out can be scary.

“This is the south and it can be really hard to be open as an LGBTQ person.”

“If they know you have an LGBT business they won’t support you or they’ll be like oh don’t go there or whatever. But you just have to stand up and have faith.”

But they feel for the most part Savannah is welcoming and supportive of all, and encourage everyone to have pride.

“And we love that the majority of people in Savannah have come around and are now supportive of us.”

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