Interview: Betty Husted Ms Lesbian Ri 2014
When we think of inclusion and safe
spaces, we rarely correlate those places to everyday environments.But shouldn’t the most everyday places be the most inclusive? Betty Husted, a salesperson extraordinaire at Patriot Subaru of North Attleboro, Massachusetts, certainly thinks so. Crowned Ms. Lesbian RI 2014, Husted has taken her LGBTQ advocacy talents to a place where the community surely needs it: a car dealership. Options talked to Husted about fi st cars, Patriot Subaru’s history of championing the community, and the silly cliche that lesbians love Subarus.
Options: Does your title as Ms Lesbian RI 2014 inform the work you do? If so, how?
Betty Husted: Being a representative in the LGBTQ community has allowed me to be an advocate in the sometimes intimidating automotive industry.
O: Tell the story of how you got your start there.
Husted: I had prior sales experience but never with cars. I had been laid off and found Patriot Subaru, a brand new dealership at the time in North Attleboro, advertising on LinkedIn. Since I was Ms Lesbian RI at the time, I thought the cliche could get me in the door and I could prove myself from there. I did, and in the meantime the dealership has really formed as a place for inclusiveness.
O: People might not associate car dealerships with inclusivity. In your experience, how does Patriot Subaru change that narrative?
H: First, Patriot Subaru is the Subaru dealership that sponsors RI Pride. When the Orlando shooting happened, we donated a portion of our sales to the friends and families of the victims.We truly treat everyone with the same respect, and understand that everyone has had different experiences in the past or heard different horror stories about the car- buying experience. We've had many LGBTQ associates work for us, and most of the team has family who are "family." One of the funniest anecdotes to share was when our fearless leader, Mark Perryman, who has a gay son, first moved here from Florida, he bought the dealership a full spread of Chick-fi for Saturday lunch. He had no idea of its reputation of having an anti-LGBTQ agenda! I informed him, and that poor man
was so embarrassed. I texted his son to make sure he schools his dad from now on. We really strive to make this a comfortable place for everyone.
O:Do you recall the story of buying your fi car? How did that experience inform your work now?
H: The first time I bought a car without my parents, I went to one dealership where the salesman asked me a series questions and said, "I have the car for you," and pulled up a car older and in worse shape than the car I had at the time.I felt ignored and downplayed because I was a young woman with my girlfriend at the time. I went across the street to the next dealership where I was treated with respect and the salesman even stayed after hours to get me the deal I needed with the car I wanted. Years later, there he was, at Patriot Subaru the first day we opened as one of the new sales team members! Through that experience I have learned that the act of listening is the best way to earn a customer's respect, return business and referrals.
O:Can you explain the need for LGBTQ consumers to have access to supportive and inclusive spaces?
H: Car dealerships have always had a bad reputation as a super-macho environment, and sometimes rightly so. Patriot Subaru understands the initial apprehensiveness. We invite you into our home and to be a part of our family with no closed doors.