Major Donor Spotlight: Michael Barber

This June, it is our honor to highlight major donor Michael Barber.

Michael is an award-winning brand consultant and marketing strategist who recently joined SMYAL’s Major Donor Committee. You may also recognize Michael from Tik Tok as he recently went viral for pulling off a surprise wedding!

How did you get involved with SMYAL?

Just over two years ago, my sister, Dr. Megan Hollis, and her best friend, Paige Stanley, invited me to the Annual Fall Brunch. They needed to fill their table, and I was an easy target ;).

Like most Annual Brunch attendees, we had a great time. More importantly, I was impressed with SMYAL’s team and those supporting the organization, along with the breadth of work the organization was doing and its impact on the community.

What inspired you to become a major donor and join the Major Donor Committee?

I wasn’t living in DC at the time I was introduced to SMYAL, but two years later found myself living in the District. Blame a man I fell in love with—more on that later.

Megan and Paige invited me to a Major Donor event, and it felt like the right fit for me to start to get to know a broader part of the community, begin to give back to the place I call home these days, and have an impact on LGBTQIA+ youth.

Why is it important to you to give back to SMYAL?

That’s an easy one to answer. There is an overwhelming need to serve, support, and protect the livelihoods of at-risk youth. And kids who identify as LGBTQIA+ are no exception. They are four times more likely to commit suicide and 120% more likely to experience homelessness compared to their heterosexual counterparts.
Anything I can do to reverse these trends is a worthy endeavor.

Congratulations on your recent wedding! Can you tell us a little bit about how you pulled off a surprise wedding and what it was like to have the video go viral on Tik Tok?

Lol. Planning a surprise wedding in 23 days is no easy feat. But under the guise of a same-sex photoshoot for a beautiful DC hotel and the support of a few friends, along with one full anxiety attack and a TMJ diagnosis, it wasn’t all that bad.

Going viral has its perks. Suddenly every brand wants you to do some sort of sponsored content for them. Mostly, you’re just impressed by how good these social media companies’ algorithms are, the random texts from people who went to high school or college with you and saw the video, and just how much most people love a good love story.

And if you’d like to know more about the wedding, our videographer made literally the best wedding/story of our engagement/TikTok adventure I’ve ever seen –

What are you looking forward to in 2021?

Honestly, hugs. That’s it, just hugs. 

This Pride month, join Michael in supporting LGBTQ youth as they overcome the obstacles by joining, renewing, or upgrading your major donor membership.