Washington’s LGBT business community will be mingling tonight as CAGLCC (Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce) holds its annual awards dinner “Indulge in Business Excellence” at the Mayflower Renaissance (1127 Connecticut Ave., N.W.).
The Chamber (caglcc.org) created the awards to showcase the achievement and impact of LGBT business and community leaders in the region. Mike Larson, a sales executive at Spectrum Printing and Graphics and a former Chamber president, is slated to receive the Distinguished Service Award, only the second time it’s been given.
“I’m very humbled,” the 46-year-old Pittsburgh native says. “The award is wonderful, but what I really treasure are the relationships I’ve developed in the Chamber.”
Larson got involved in 2005 and eventually chaired a community service committee for the Chamber.
“There’s a lot of business we can do with one another and it’s nice to keep those dollars within the community,” Larson says. “I’ve done a huge volume of business through contacts I’ve made directly related to the Chamber.”
Larson came to the area 18 years ago after stints in both Virginia and Pennsylvania. He and Pippa, his 10-year-old schnauzer, live in Petworth. Larson is single and enjoys baking, working on his house, boating and gaming in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
Twenty-seven years, my paternal grandparents. I knew they thought “being gay” was wrong. They always loved me unconditionally and eventually my grandmother became supportive of me being gay. When I divorced four years ago, I think she was more upset about my partner not being part of the family any longer than the fact that I was getting divorced!
Who’s your LGBT hero?
I have two — Frank Kameny, for his early, strong, unwavering voice for the LGBT community and Dana Beyer who is an intelligent, well-spoken, strong woman who helps keep our community focused on equality for all.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Nellie’s. I am not much of a late night guy, but always enjoy watching a Caps game or hanging out with friends at Nellie’s.
Describe your dream wedding.
My wedding back in 1995 wasn’t legal, but it was an incredible celebration with family and friends. I was the first of my siblings to marry, so my mom had a ball with the planning.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Helping to build a vibrant community in the Petworth neighborhood. I serve on the board of Friends at Petworth Library and have worked on various neighborhood beautification projects.
What historical outcome would you change?
The death of my mom. She died way too young! Losing her as a mom was horrible, but the LGBT community lost an incredible advocate who touched so many and helped to make the Pittsburgh and Chicago LGBT communities much better places for all parents, friends and LGBT folks.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The death of Steve Jobs. He impacted so much of how we live today through technology.
On what do you insist?
Love thy neighbor as you love yourself. One of the best lessons I learned from a childhood of going to church.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
“Missing the kids but the boat is beautifully clean and almost ready for the season! — at Hartge Yacht Harbor.” It was accompanied by pictures of my beautiful niece and nephews and one of my friend’s boat that I help him maintain.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Fabulous!” As my co-worker says, “That’s your word.”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Nothing. As Frank Kameny said, “Gay is Good.”
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
A greater force that helps center my life and gives me peace in turmoil.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Don’t forget any of our brothers and sisters in the fight for full equality. Sometimes it’s not the popular thing to do, but it is the right thing.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
To protect my family and friends from danger. Or a great piece of key lime pie.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That all gays are wealthy. Not true and sometimes the legal inequality of being gay cannot be righted for those with less means than others.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
What’s the most overrated social custom?
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Yard of the month. I have a brown thumb, so it will never happen until I pay someone to landscape.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
The importance of a healthy diet.
So much green space, incredible architecture and a vibrant LGBT community.