Pride 2021 – A Message from Tom Conway, CEO Small Business BC

As we approach this year’s annual celebration of LGBTQ2S Pride in B.C., I am proud to serve a Board and lead a staff team who celebrate the rich diversity of our greater provincial community and world. Our goal is to provide guidance that will foster the implementation of sustainable solutions that will enable our organization to expand on its success through a more inclusive and diverse workforce, clientele, partnerships and service/product delivery.

I have fought hard, marched, protested and continue to advocate for LGBTQ2S rights and acceptance. There has been much progress, but it did not come without pain and suffering, sacrifice and even death. Each generation learns and builds off the work of the last.

I learned early on to hide myself in a closet because the world, including my own church and community, made me believe I was somehow morally reprehensible because I was attracted to men. The problem with closets is they become cluttered and filled with all sorts of things you learn aren’t “acceptable.”

I grew up in the golden age of disco – and I still love it! One song in particular, I Am What I Am sung by the fabulous Miss Gloria Gaynor, motivated my eventual coming out. So powerful in her words and music – and this verse in particular: “I am what I am and what I am needs no excuses. I deal my own deck, sometimes the ace sometimes the deuces. It’s one life and there’s no return and no deposit. One life so it’s time to open up your closet. Life’s not worth a damn till you can shout out I am what I am!”

From that day forward, I was determined to be me. As many people before me took that step outside of their closet prison, I learned the importance of being your authentic self. I will never not be authentic, and I will never ask anyone to be anything but who they truly are around me.

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