Pride and Patronage

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AGLCC President Chad Peevy keeps gay and lesbian efforts in the public eye

Chad Peevy  is vocal about the fact that queer money talks. as president of the Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (AGLCC), Peevy  is at the helm of an organization that’s building awareness of the power of voting with dollars. With political issues like gay marriage and the ban on gays serving openly in the U.s. military, gay issues often seem to take three skips forward and two steps back. But Peevy  believes there is more than one way to cast a ballot for equality. “Conservative estimates show that the ‘gay dollar’ in Austin is about $531 million dollars in discretionary funds,” Peevy  said. “that means after we pay all of our bills, we have about $531 million in ‘mad money.’ I encourage folks to spend those dollars at businesses that support the community.” he drives the point home: “dollars are circles, not rectangles.”

Peevy  is a self-described small town guy, having spent his childhood in Alma, Arkansas, a town with a population of about 3,000. A member of the marching band in high school, Peevy  said, “I loved it when something large and complex came together to make something incredible.” He parlayed his status as drum major to the University of Arkansas where he was chosen as drum major for the Arkansas Razorback Marching Band. After completing his degree in music education, Peevy  moved from Fayetteville to Austin to complete his master’s degree in music and human learning. “I think I’m still in culture shock,” Peevy  said. “It’s been almost seven years and I still love to people watch – observe the diversity. I still get surprised by some of the things I see. In Arkansas, it wasn’t always safe to express your individuality (like it is in Austin).”

Peevy  finished his degree but decided not to follow the teaching career path he had initially envisioned. he tried his hand at real estate marketing, and after a couple of years opened his own marketing and design business, Peevy  Media. “My office is in the Keller-Williams building (the nation’s largest real estate office) and about 90 percent of my business is somehow related to real estate,” Peevy  said. “I do mostly small business marketing and graphic design. I enjoy building relationships with my clients, getting to know them, and helping them realize their dream of owning their own business.”

Understanding the needs of new businesses makes Peevy  a perfect fit for the AGLCC, which he joined three years ago. “I came on to the board as a member-at-large and basically watched and learned,” Peevy  said, “then took the helm in June 2009.”

As president, Peevy  is clear about the importance he places on the visibility of gay spending. “AGLCC’s role in all of this, I believe, is multifold,” he said. “First, awareness; getting the community to understand the power of the gay dollar. I give money to a business that supports my community, that business sponsors local nonprofits, those nonprofits make it possible for me to live a great life in austin. part of living a great life in Austin is having supportive local government, that’s why, second, AGLCC lobbies the city council on issues that affect our community – most recently to pass a resolution that would re- quire a company getting taxpayer dollars from the city of Austin to have a nondiscrimination policy in place that protects their LGBT employees.”

In addition to the day-to-day duties of promoting austin’s growing network of gay-owned and gay-friendly businesses, Peevy  has expanded his efforts to promote awareness by forming the Austin Gay and Lesbian Pride Foundation, a separate 501c3 organization that is responsible for the planning, organizing and fundraising for Austin Pride. “This is one accomplishment that I believe I’m most proud of,” Peevy  said. “Austin is ready and deserves this organization. pride can be a very powerful local movement. pride is all year long, not just one weekend.”

Through the new organization, Peevy  hopes to appeal to a wider array of the community, taking austin’s pride celebration to a new level. “I don’t really know how to begin to explain the importance of the new pride organization. We’re trying to look at every level and experience of this weekend and make sure it highlights the very best among us and within us.” With the new organization comes a host of new ideas. “We’ve added the 5K race, working more closely with the leaders of the faith community, inclusive of families, welcoming our straight allies,” Peevy  said. “I feel like Austin, Texas, yes – in the middle of the nation’s most conservative state we can make a difference. This year, Austin turns a page in the history of our LGBT community.”

To support the efforts of the new foundation, Peevy  is reaching out to GLBT community leaders to join a group called the proud 100. “I’m looking for 100 people in the community that can contribute a minimum of $1,000 to the foundation,” Peevy said. “Being a proud 100 is a way for us to leave our legacy in the community. The impact will affect many generations to come.”

While more gay-friendly Texas cities like Austin, Dallas and Houston may not seem like the sort of places that exist in dire need of assertive pushes for LGBT rights, Peevy believes set-ting an example of visibility and solidarity is vitally important. “I think sometimes, when you have it so good, you forget that you’re standing on the shoulders of the giants who came before you – those who made it such a great place for LGBT folks to live,” Peevy said. “And having it good only leaves you indebted to a life of responsibility, it doesn’t entitle you to a life of apathy. it’s only 25 minutes away in san Marcos where they don’t even have a gay bar; where the city council has blocked the ability to open one.” according to Peevy , visibility is key. “Half the battle is just showing up,” Peevy  said. “Show up to LGBT events, give to local LGBT nonprofits. The effects of that can be astounding. it’s all about hope.”

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