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Celebrating Pride 2023! Jha Allen, Endless 8 Marketing

Celebrating Pride 2023!

Pride Month is a time to celebrate who we are, no matter our differences.

By Jha Allen (she/her)
Founder, Endless 8 Marketing

“Pride, to me, is the essence of showing up as your authentic self, even in the face of adversity..”

As part of the Chamber’s Pride Month celebration, we are profiling Chamber Leaders and Chamber Members to share their perspectives on what Pride means to them.

What we do…Who I am….

Jhabriel "Jha" Allen, the founder of Endless 8 Marketing! My pronouns are "she/her." Known for my expertise in networking, content strategy, and being a digital marketing trainer. I am dedicated to assisting businesses in defining and refining their marketing strategies and online presence.

I am a firm believer in leveraging the latest digital marketing trends and best practices to help business owners thrive in the online realm. When I'm not immersed in strategizing innovative marketing techniques, you can find me passionately creating content for my social media channels or actively participating in networking events.

At Endless 8 Marketing, our goal is to empower businesses to harness the power of effective marketing and establish a strong digital footprint. We are committed to helping entrepreneurs navigate the ever-evolving digital landscape with confidence providing website design, content strategy and social media management services.

What It Means to Be an LGBTQ+ Owned Business

Being an LGBTQ+ owned business holds immense significance to me. It allows me to embrace my true self and show up authentically, without the need to conceal my identity based on the perceptions of colleagues or adhere to restrictive company policies. As an LGBTQ+ business owner, I have the freedom to work with individuals who share my values and choose partnerships that align with my vision.

One of the most rewarding aspects of being an LGBTQ+ business owner, especially during Pride Month, is the opportunity to be a positive role model for younger members of the LGBTQ+ community. I want to show them that it is not only possible to be a proud member of this community but also to demand respect and achieve success on their own terms.

By openly owning and operating an LGBTQ+ business, I aim to inspire others and contribute to the broader movement for equality and inclusion. I want to demonstrate that diversity and authenticity are not hindrances but rather strengths that can drive innovation, creativity, and success in the business world.

Coming Out…

My journey of coming out began during my sophomore year of high school, around the age of 15 or 16. Looking back, it's interesting to reflect on my freshman year when I had a boyfriend I wasn't really into. Deep down, I felt a strong attraction to women, but I lacked the courage to fully explore my true identity. In an attempt to conform, I experimented with a more feminine presentation. I got my nails done, wore girly clothes, and even tried out a weave—I thought it was a significant change from my usual self and I felt extremely out of place.

However, this phase didn't last long. That summer, I met a girl who openly expressed her interest in me, and we eventually became girlfriends. I wrote about her in a notebook that I carelessly left lying around, which my mom (being a mom) discovered and read. Surprisingly, she didn't react with anger or disappointment. It was almost as if she had a sense of understanding beforehand. Perhaps it helped that I have two other cousins who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, and my mom had developed a close relationship with them. So, for my parents, it was just another day—they accepted me as I am.

My dad, on the other hand, spent most of my life in prison and was only recently released three months ago. Despite the physical separation, we maintained a relationship throughout his incarceration. I visited him countless times, we talked on the phone frequently, and even with my masculine presentation, he only mustered the courage to ask me if I might be a lesbian about a year ago.

I consider myself fortunate to have parents who have always accepted me for who I am, and I am grateful for that. Their unconditional support and love have been invaluable to my journey of self-discovery and acceptance. They embraced me without hesitation, knowing that my happiness and authenticity mattered above all else.

Pride Means Showing Up…

Pride, to me, is the essence of showing up as your authentic self, even in the face of adversity. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a successful entrepreneur in digital marketing, I've experienced both opportunities and exclusion. Walking into professional rooms as a minority, masculine-presenting woman with dreadlocks hasn't always been met with acceptance.

However, Pride isn't something I reserve for a specific month or event—it's a daily mindset. It's the courage to resist conformity, never compromising who I am to please others. It's about celebrating the unique combination of my identities and refusing to let societal expectations define me.

Pride empowers me to face challenges with grace and resilience, knowing my worth lies in staying true to myself. It inspires others, paves the way for inclusivity, and proves that success can be achieved authentically.

In essence, Pride is the unwavering commitment to authenticity and self-acceptance. It's about standing tall, being a trailblazer, and creating a world where everyone can thrive as their true selves.

I have a vivid memory from my younger days when I didn't really know what "Pride Month" meant. It all changed when I went to my first Pride Parade. I met a wonderful person there who was dressed in amazing drag attire. He was so happy and emotional because, for over 30 years, he had been afraid to go out in public like that.

But at the parade, surrounded by people who loved and accepted him, he felt safe and free to be himself. I still remember him clearly, even though I never learned his name. His story showed me what pride is all about.

Pride Month is a time to celebrate who we are, no matter our differences. It's about accepting ourselves and others, and creating a community where everyone can be loved and respected. That encounter at the parade taught me how important it is to embrace our true selves and support each other, just like the people at the parade did for that gentleman.

It is crucial that we celebrate Pride Month because it represents a powerful and liberating message for our society. This celebration calls upon us to embrace bravery, acceptance, and the recognition of equal worth for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

At the core of Pride Month lies the fundamental understanding that love knows no boundaries or restrictions. It compels us to question why it should matter who someone else loves, when the essence of our humanity lies in our ability to love one another unconditionally.

By celebrating Pride Month, we challenge societal norms and break free from the shackles of judgment and prejudice. We create a space where all individuals can express their authentic selves without fear of discrimination or rejection. It is a declaration that everyone deserves dignity, respect, and the freedom to be who they truly are. Ultimately, Pride Month is not only a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community but also a call to action for all of society. It urges us to examine our own biases and prejudices, encouraging us to treat one another with compassion, empathy, and equality.

By embracing and celebrating Pride Month, we pave the way for a more inclusive, accepting, and harmonious world—one where love triumphs over hate, and where every individual can live their lives authentically and without fear of judgment.

Engaging with the Chamber and Finding Acceptance and Support

Discovering the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce was a moment of immense joy for me. I had no idea such a chamber existed until I stumbled upon it through another chamber I was a part of. Eager to learn more and get involved, I eagerly explored their website and discovered a community that resonated deeply with me.

As I began to navigate the business world and immerse myself in different professional circles, it became increasingly rare to encounter individuals who openly identified as LGBTQ+ or embraced their identities within the business realm. Being a part of the LGBTQ+ community is not something I hide—it's a visible part of who I am. This visibility often brings a mix of emotions, but finding a business professional organization created by and for people like me was a source of immense pride and comfort.

Growing up where I did, the presence of LGBTQ+ professionals in the business arena was scarce. So, when I found the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce, it felt like discovering my true home. It provided me with a space where I could connect with like-minded individuals who understand the unique challenges and opportunities we face as LGBTQ+ business owners. The Chamber not only supports me professionally but also allows me to do business with fellow LGBTQ+ individuals, fostering a sense of camaraderie and solidarity within our community.

 involved in the LGBTQ+ Chamber means more than just networking or business opportunities to me. It signifies the creation of a supportive ecosystem where LGBTQ+ professionals can thrive, grow, and succeed together. It's a place where I can be my authentic self, celebrate my identity, and contribute to the advancement and visibility of LGBTQ+ businesses and entrepreneurs.

The LGBTQ+ Chamber has become an invaluable resource, providing a sense of belonging and empowerment that I had yearned for throughout my professional journey. It's a reminder that we can forge our own path, break down barriers, and achieve remarkable success while staying true to who we are.

Ultimately, being an LGBTQ+ owned business during Pride Month is a testament to the power of visibility, resilience, and the pursuit of one's dreams. It serves as a beacon of hope, inspiring others to embrace their true identities, demand respect, and build a successful future while remaining true to who they are.

Learn more about Jha and Endless 8 Marketing

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