Entrepreneur Greg Cason works to build bridges

Local entrepreneur Greg Cason has a long involvement with Nashville’s LGBT community, Nashville Pride, and Nashville Black Pride. Working diligently with multiple organizations has given him some insight into the relationships within that community and how we can work to enhance those relationships.

“I have a passion for serving others and giving back to the community in which I live,” Cason explained. “My involvement in the LGBTQ+ community gained momentum when I became a member of Nissan’s LGBT Business Synergy Team entitled ‘GSAN’ which stands for Gay Straight Alliance at Nissan. As President and Vice President, I had the opportunity to represent Nissan at various events. This allowed me the opportunity to meet a wide variety of people and organizations that have an impact to the LGBTQ+ community. That impact isn’t always a positive one so being a vocal change agent is extremely important.”

Becoming familiar with these various groups let him see the disconnects that exist. “As an African American gay male, I saw the disconnection that exists within the Nashville LGBTQ+ community in several aspects. One in particular is the number of corporations that sponsor Nashville Pride but not Nashville Black Pride. I contacted Dwayne Jenkins and started donating my time, money, and, most importantly, effort in getting Nissan to become a sponsor for several years.”

Cason was also diligent about building his credibility with community-wide organizations, to better serve the mission of bridging divides. “Serving on the Board of Directors of the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce and networking with other individuals and organizations in the LGBTQ+ community is one tool for bridging the community gaps but it doesn’t stop there. I have to promote, support, and attend events that enhance our community as a whole.”

“It’s discouraging to hear that various LGBTQ+ individuals don’t feel represented and/or supported here in Nashville,” he added. “It’s important that all of us expand our personal networks and comfort zones to ensure that our programs and events include individuals that ‘don’t look like us.’ It’s a gradual process that starts with each person reaching out to the next person. No movement of great importance was successful based on the efforts of one group of individuals. It takes all of us working together to close the gaps that exist. “

When it comes to Nashville Black Pride, Cason sees that a lot of work remains. “Nashville Black Pride is in desperate need of financial support, especially businesses that already support the LGBTQ+ community,” he explained. “Neighboring states realize an economic boost during black pride weekend. The same can be realized for Nashville if the funding was available to attract entertainment, enhance marketing activities and expand programs that resonate with the community.”

“In the future,” he added, “I envision Nashville Black Pride working closer with the Nashville Pride Board and other Pride organizations in neighboring cities to share ideas and resources. I also hope that other LGBTQ+ nonprofit organizations expand their support of Nashville Black Pride. This can be accomplished by making it a part of their strategic plan. This is one organization where a $1,000.00 sponsorship/donation can make a huge impact.”

Why does he see making a commitment to Nashville Black Pride as such an important investment in our community? “We have all seen or heard reports that Black Americans have been disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Black Pride weekend is a great way time to educate the community on prevention, treatment, absence and HIV/AIDS studies that can eliminate the spread of the disease.”

Aside from all his work in the community, Cason has also branched out into even planning, founding Inspired Concepts and Events, LLC. “I have been hosting and promoting parties for the past 7 years for family and friends on a small scale. Each event provided an outlet for me to embrace my creative side, so in January I decided to start Inspired Concepts and Events, LLC. Inspired Concepts and Events is a full service event planning company. Starting a business and working full time [at Nissan] has created its challenges but seeing the smiles on my client’s face is worth every sleepless night!”

While the time commitment of working, running a side business, and working in the community is great, Cason vowed, “No matter how large my business becomes, my commitment to this community will never diminish. My motto is: ‘If you are not giving back, what are you giving?’”





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