“Some say, I’m working with you because you do amazing work,” Davis says.
Jeffrey Cesari asked a female colleague to work with a prospective client who seemed to be uneasy with him. Cesari’s first phone conversation with the man a year ago started well, but Cesari began to feel tension as it went on.
Cesari, whose Philadelphia-based company Shimmer Events organizes conferences and other events, wasn’t ready to give up.
“I called a couple more times to get more information, but I couldn’t get anywhere,” Cesari says. When his female colleague tried, the client was willing to schedule an event.
Ryan Hayward is anxious about potential investors for New York-based Hatch Co., which operates a website where crafts makers can sell jewelry, home furnishings and other items. Investors ask why he started the business. Hayward’s inspiration was his boyfriend.
“Every time I’ve spoken with potential investors, I found myself nervously, quickly making a decision about whether I was going to say ‘friend’ or ‘boyfriend’ or leave it out. It’s something I have to think about every time,” Hayward says.
Owners who have been in business for many years say attitudes have changed for the better. Bob Hayes and Jim Burba have been a couple for 24 years, and partners in Burba Hotel Network for 13. The first decade they were in business, Burba attended meetings alone so they wouldn’t be seen as a couple.
“It was partly a conscious decision on my part. I thought it could cause some problems,” says Hayes, vice president of the Costa Mesa, Calif.-based company that organizes investor conferences for the hotel and tourism industry.
About three to four years ago, Hayes and Burba sensed a more accepting atmosphere. They started attending meetings together.
“We’re at the point where, if people don’t like us because of the fact we’re gay,” Hayes says, “that’s too bad.”