MBA Orlando changes name to Pride Chamber

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Members of the Pride Chamber at the organization’s business mixer June 5. (Photo by Jeremy Williams)

ORLANDO | After 27 years as the Metropolitan Business Association (MBA Orlando), Central Florida’s LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce announced it will be changing its name to the Pride Chamber.

The announcement came from MBA Orlando Executive Director Kellie Parkin at the organization’s June Business Connect at Orlando Shakes June 5.

“When our founders created our organization, it was very purposefully named something that was incognito,” Parkin says. “They didn’t want the outside world to know we were the gay chamber or business association. They needed to be able to call various hotels or meeting spaces in town without being too descriptive.”

Due to the homophobia of the time, early membership rosters had to be printed on raspberry paper so that it could not be photocopied, and only a few members were out about their sexual orientation.

“There were a few of those early founders who were happy to be in pictures and were out and proud, but everyone else didn’t have that luxury,” Parkins says. “They had to be in the closet in their business. So now here we are, 27 years later, and we are proud of who we are. We want to stand with pride and tell people we are LGBTQ businesses; we are allied businesses.”

Parkin says the new name isn’t just from a board vote, it is a result of input from business owners, members and people throughout the community.

“I had a lot of different conversations with a lot of different people,” she says. “Allies and LGBTQ business owners, people in the community who are business professionals, longtime members, new members; I just wanted to get an idea from everyone of what they thought about us.”

In those conversations, Parkin says a reoccurring theme of Pride kept coming up.

“We are proud of who we are and what we do and we want to show people that,” she says. “When the board met to talk options the name Pride Chamber was suggested and they all said, ‘That’s it. That’s our name.'”

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