A Drop in the Bucket: Hate-Based Discrimination from a Thryv Software Salesman

So I have been in need of new software to manage my email, SMS messaging, client appointment booking, and social media channels for my business East Bay Area Therapy I have been meeting with various sales people from companies this past week and watching live demonstrations of their products to determine if they will be the right fit for my mental health practice. So far, I haven't found the right fit.

This morning, I scheduled a live demo with Mitchell Pellerin from Thryv (817) 790-9580 to learn more about their HIPAA compliant software for healthcare practices. Our video call was scheduled for 7:30 AM PST and we joined the Zoom chat shortly afterwards. Thryv advertises states "We provide the technology, software and local business automation tools small business owners need to better manage their time, communicate with clients, and get paid, so they can take control of their business and be more successful." (Thryv Website)

He opened the demo by asking me what I do in my business. After I informed him I am a mental health therapist, he informed me that he had already gone to my website at www.eastbayareatherapy.com and looked at my specific webpage "LGBT Christians" and asked me more about this service. (http://www.eastbayareatherapy.com/lgbtchristians.html)

I let him know that I work with LGBTQ+ Christians exploring how one's sexual orientation and gender identity interacts with one's Christian faith. I explained that I often help queer folks come out of the closet to their Christian families, and do family therapy. He let me know that he is a Christian and asked me if I am performing Christian counseling in my profession. I let him know I am a trained Christian counselor. I have experience working as a staff clinician at a Christian counseling center in the San Francisco Bay Area and have since worked with queer and (and non-queer) Christian clients over the last decade.

He put his hand against his chest and informed be that he refuses to move forward with the Thryv software demonstration because he does not agree with the nature of the work I discussed with him regarding LGBTQ+ Christians. I was SHOCKED that he would not provide a software demonstration to me because I serve the LGBTQ Christian community in a professional therapeutic capacity. I expressed my feelings to him and encouraged him to consider rethinking this. I asked if there was someone who would actually be willing to help me and he tried to locate another employee. I did not receive a software demo this morning after all.

After I hung up the Zoom call, I cried at my desk. I felt deeply saddened, angry, and disgusted with his words. I thought about my client who was held at gun point, the one who was tortured by 5 men, and the countless who have been violently assaulted. Spit on. Shouted at. I feel so so so deeply sad for the LGBTQ community I serve. For my friends. For family members. For people I don't know. For my current clients. For my past clients. But my tears were futile, for I knew that I was only experiencing a single drop in the bucket. A single drop of the discrimination, rights refusals, violence, and hate that the LGBTQ+ community members face on a daily basis. This was a tiny drop of how much the community has been beat up, put down, spit on, and murdered.

I called back the main US Thryv number with interest in finding out if this company practices discriminatory behavior with all LGBTQ persons or those who work with them in a professional capacity. I spoke to another Thryv employee who let me know that all of the supervisors and executives were off of work today, due to the Labor Day holiday. I asked him about the practices of Thryv and if they deny their software services specifically to LGBTQ+ persons or to LGBTQ+ Christians, or to mental health therapists who work with them. The employee expressed that he "hoped" that Thryv did not have this type of stance and would follow up with me with my complaint.

Let me make this very clear. East Bay Area Therapy is proudly an LGBTQ+ affirming practice that provides culturally conscious counseling services. I will go to any length to advocate for the marginalized, oppressed, and provide a safe space to welcome them. After all, that would be the Christian thing to do.

Grace Ohikere, M.A., MFT
California Licensed Psychotherapist
Owner of East Bay Area Therapy

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