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New Group Addresses Out-Gay Entrepreneurs

by Kilian Melloy
Friday May 21, 2010
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Just about a year ago, an entrepreneurship association for openly GLBT business owners got going. Now, after several events that have drawn a thousand attendees to gatherings in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, StartOut has started strong.

StartOut was the brainchild of Darren Spedale, co-founder of A-List Global Media, and a businessman with a keen interest in GLBT legal and social issues. Spedale co-wrote on family parity, Gay Marriage: For Better or Worse: What We’ve Learned from the Evidence. Spedale received a Fulbright in 1996 to study same-sex family relationships in Scandinavia, after he authored a paper on benefits for the domestic partners of employees. Spedale launched StartOut with some friends in 2009. A May 20 New York Times story on StartOut noted that there are several GLBT business groups; they share a penchant for indicating who they are for and what they are about in the way they are named, such as Out for Business and Reaching Out. And while being openly gay (and openly supportive of GLBT employees and causes) might once have been seen as bad for business, that’s now changed: "It’s a sign of the enlightened times that we live in," StartOut advisory board member Patrick Chung told the New York Times. "The generation that’s coming through now, they’re more comfortable in their skin. There’s been more societal support."

It’s not just to established business owners that StartOut is, well, reaching out: the article noted that the group is slated to host a May 26 event called "Entrepreneurship As A Career" for teenagers through the Hetrick-Martin Institute, which runs the New York City-based Harvey Milk High School.

Openly gay entrepreneurs have gained a higher profile in recent years. Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and early investor in Facebook, is openly gay, as is Tim Gill. The latter is as well known, if not more so, for his political activism as for his software entrepreneurship.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network’s Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association’s Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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