In 2004, a small group of business owners formed the Diversity Business Association " DBA Metro, for short " to give that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender businesspeople in Oklahoma City an outlet for meeting and networking.
"It was something that had been needed for a long time," said Monty Milburn, marketing specialist with The Town & Country Crew and DBA Metro president. "Oklahoma City being a more conservative place, we weren't sure how it would take off."
Today, DBA Metro boasts more than 160 members, many of whom are not part of the LGBT community. Six to 10 new members are added every month, according to Milburn.
"Our vice president is a straight, married woman," Milburn said. "We have several straight members (who) are gay-friendly, and they are a huge part of the success of DBA Metro. We're wanting to attract a more mainstream membership."
The organization offers members an invaluable opportunity to make professional connections.
"It is important for the (LGBT) community and the people who support it to have an outlet to network and share business experience," said Rob Howard, Northwest Airlines retiree.
The networking aspect has been particularly important for the group, whose Web site features a database of member businesses.
"When I send clients to a lender, I don't want the lender to wonder if those people are brothers, or to feel uncomfortable," Milburn said. "People want to feel comfortable knowing where they can go to do business."
For more information, visit www.dbametro.org. "Nathan Gunter