Like many members of the gay community, it took years of building up courage before I finally came out. Looking back now, the fear that Ifelt at the time is totally overshadowed by the immense amount of pride that Ihave now. Not only am Iproud to have come out and shown the world who I truly am, but Iam also proud to have joined a community of people who are strong, courageous, and quite frankly, fabulous.
In an interesting parallel, chefs face similar fears when opening a new restaurant. With the statistics against them (only 20% of restaurants actually make it), it takes a lot of courage and pride for a chef to put themselves out there for others to review. A restaurant opening is very much a coming out party. Once a restaurant opens its doors, it also opens itself to judgment. This judgment is something to which any member of the LGBTcommunity can relate – it takes courage.
Restaurants have much more to be proud of than just their food. They should take pride in the diversity of their guests, their staff, and the environment of openness and acceptance that they create for everyone. Not only is it fair practice, but it is also smart marketing.
One distinctive advantage of being open to, and marketing to, the LGBTcommunity is keying into the high level of affluence, sophistication and appreciation for food and drink that comes with our group. Gays often fall into the desirable DINKcategory (dual income no kids), leading to a more discretionary income and therefore more time and money to spend dining out. Because our community is very close knit, we quickly spread the word about something we love. If restaurants make a point to be LGBTfriendly by supporting our community through charitable and community involvement – we naturally show them support and love. As a group of very important influencers, our appreciation leads to critical and public praise – which means these restaurants will ultimately have a better chance to survive – hey, hey.