A FEW years ago I did the usual ring around to a couple of insurers to obtain a home and contents insurance policy. My partner at the time had just moved in with me so it made sense that we get a joint policy. It turned out to be an awkward call where I basically had to come out to the person on the other end of the phone. I started by answering all the usual questions and mid-way through the call it was time to give the person on the other end of the phone my partner’s details. They made an honest mistake of asking what “her” name was, to which I replied “his name is”. There was an awkward pause on the other end of the phone which I really could have done without.

I’ve had to come out to quite a few professionals in a similar way over the years. It is simply awkward and I wanted an option where it wasn’t an issue. For me it’s not a case of putting these people in their place when this happens, as I’m not an in-your-face kind of guy and I’m happier flying under the radar in order to enjoy life with as few arguments as possible.

[showads ad=MREC]Around the same time of the “contents insurance outing” I was planning to start my own financial planning practice and given the personal nature of the job, I wanted to provide my services to the LGBTI community so people simply had the opportunity to avoid a “financial planning outing”.

I jumped on Google and found the Brisbane Gay and Lesbian Business Network (GLBN), a not-for-profit organisation that facilitates an environment where professionals come together to help each other through referral marketing, education and creative business ideas. Sydney and Melbourne have identical organisations, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association (SGLBA) and Melbourne’s Gay and Lesbian Organisation of Business and Enterprise (GLOBE).

The GLBN is perfect for me as it provides an avenue where I can offer my services to the LGBTI community and access to quality professionals that I need in various stages throughout life. Best of all, I don’t have to come out to my clients or to the vast array of professionals I access through the GLBN.

While important at the time — and one of the key motivators — to my getting involved with the GLBN, it is now only one of the small reasons. I soon discovered there was so much more to it than that. A few key reasons I try to choose an LGBTI-friendly professional are:

  • They believe what you believe. They understand you more (they get you) and can truly emphasise with your situation/circumstances. I’ve found that their values (the core to who they are) are often closely aligned.
  • They share your passions and have similar ideals. They are a supporter of you and how you live your life from the get go. This means they like you more and actually want to do business with you. Doing business with you is less likely to be a chore.
  • You are not just another client to them. They actually want to help you get ahead, sort out your issue and/or improve your life. You are the client of the week that they are most excited to see as they know they can be themselves more around you.

Like most of you reading, I also look forward to the day where it doesn’t matter and the awkwardness dissipates. We’re not there yet, but we are certainly on our way. In the meantime, it makes me proud to be part of an organisation that supports our community and makes life a little easier.

Brendan Heck is the President of the Brisbane Gay and Lesbian Business Network, which holds regular social and business-focused events throughout the year. For details, visit www.glbn.org.au.

Brendan also owns a small financial planning and mortgage consulting practice, Heck Wealth.  For details, visit www.heckwealth.com.au or search for “My Wealth Advisor” on Facebook.

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**This article was first published in the December edition of the Star Observer, which is available now. Click here to find out where you can grab a copy in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and select regional/coastal areas. 

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