Thursday, September 4, 2014

Meet Amy Mayes: LGBT Rights Photographer, Activist and Ally

Amy Mayes, CEO
Amy Mayes Photography

interviewed by Ingrid Galvez,
Diversity & Inclusion Outreach Chair, NGLCCNY

Amy Mayes has been an active ally to the LGBT community long before joining the NGLCCNY in 2013. She has photographed the challenges as well as the triumphs, of the LGBT community in our quest of equality for all. Amy has documented some of the most pivotal moments in recent LGBT history.  Photographing marches, political campaigns, non-profit charity galas, landmark legal decisions and of course the capturing images of our community in daily life locally, national and as far away as Cuba.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Amy regarding her work, membership at the chamber and her experiences over the last year since joining NGLCCNY and here is what she shared.

How did you learn about the NGLCCNY?

In early 2013, I learned about Jenn T. Grace's Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy podcast.  During one of her podcasts, she suggested working with local LGBT chambers of commerce as a way to connect with the community.  I found the NGLCCNY online and put them on my radar.  A couple of months later, I met Ingrid Galvez during a volunteering event for GLAAD.  Ingrid and I spoke for a while, and some time after that we met for coffee.  I later learned that Ingrid was the chair of the NGLCCNY's Diversity Inclusion and Outreach Committee. Ingrid invited me to a chamber networking event, and I was hooked!  I become a Copper Member that same week and I've been to almost every M3 mixer since.     

What was your initial impression? Has that changed over the last year?

I was immediately impressed by the NGLCCNY and how well organized, professional and friendly it was.  The chamber's ambassadors made me feel welcomed from the moment I walked through the door and made sure that I was introduced around.  I was happy to see that so many of the LGBT non-profits and media outlets that I followed were also members of the chamber.  I've seen quite a lot of growth over the past year such as increased membership, a new website and new office space.  It's been exciting to watch the chamber grow and expand! 

How has your professional life changed or been impacted since joining the chamber?

Joining the chamber was a turning point for my business. It's afforded me opportunities to meet and collaborate with a diverse group of people from small businesses to large corporations and from art and entertainment to the legal and banking industries.  I'll always check first with the chamber's business directory when I need to make a referral.  I've become a member of the chamber's Media Communications Committee as an event photographer for the M3 mixers.  I've also had the opportunity to invite colleagues to a networking event, who have since become members themselves.  

What would you say to an Ally thinking of joining the NGLCCNY?

I would strongly encourage allies to join the NGLCCNY. I've met many allies through the chamber who share my passion for equality and want to help strengthen the LGBT and allied business communities.  It's a warm and inclusive environment and I've always felt like I was among friends. 

What special projects are you currently working on and how might the chamber members support your endeavors?

As a professional photographer and an LGBTQ rights activist, I'm thrilled about my current project!  I'm working on a photography series called Love Stories: An Intimate Look into the Lives of LGBTQ Families.  It's a series of lifestyle portraits taken at home.  The goal of this series is to increase visibility, celebrate love and give a voice to the families and couples of the community.  

I'm in the process of gathering participants and booking shoots.  Any families or couples who have been in long-term committed relationships and are interested in participating, or know anyone who is, can send an inquiry to:   

To learn more about Amy’s work check out her website by clicking here or simply chat her up at the next M3.

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