How to *Actually* Market to the LGBTQ+ Community

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I don’t think I went in 2014, either?

I think my last Pride was in 2013.

How to avoid a crisis when marketing during LGBT pride
Awk.

Which, if you know me, is pretty weird. I love going to drag shows (dollar bills prepped), make an effort to buy from queer business owners, regularly get in debates about LGBTQ+ politics, but like —

I don’t really feel like Pride is *for me*, ya know? Like, it’s hot, there are Facebook and CocaCola floats and…

One of those reasons is because I see such a stark disconnect, especially from white cis gays, on what Pride is about. For example, folks getting angry over “getting political” at pride, when all they want to do is take cute selfies with dogs in rainbow tutus.

LGBT blogger, Brianne Huntsman

And, while driving with my femme bestie today, I had FOUR Spotify ads from a U.S. Bank bragging about their work with the Human Rights Campaign. Which, if you’ve been around for a minute, you would know many folks in LGBTQ+ community have mAjoR iSsUEs with the HRC, for shitty racist and transphobic practices.

**Ahem.** Anyways, not trying to devolve into a HRC rant-post. But if you do want one, you should check out this page.

But, as a Business Gay™, I get that (just like any other group) businesses want to market to queer and LGBT people. So let’s discuss **how** to actually do that, and avoid blow-ups and crisis comms management:

The importance of recognizing the politics of pride when sponsoring LGBT pride month

Preface: Pride is Political

Something I’ve seen (especially in the last few years), is companies offering Pride merch and sponsoring Pride – the same way they do July 4th or Easter campaigns.

Think of Pride like Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM).  It would be gross to make a big deal out of BCAM, but fail to partner with non-profits and tell survivor stories.

Your Pride campaigns *must* include social good efforts and individual stories.

1. INCLUDE THE “T” in “LGBT”

Okay, y’all, enough with the “including a white gay male couple” in ads. We get it. You like gay people.

But do you like trans people? Non-binary people?

Try something truly innovative, and include trans people in your campaigns. Use “they/their” pronouns in the scripts of your commercials.

“According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 55% of all reported LGBT homicide victims were transgender women, and 50% were transgender women of color. Furthermore, in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 78% transgender/gender non-conforming students in grades K-12 experienced harassment, while 35% experienced physical assault and 12% experienced sexual violence.” (GLAAD)

55% of all reported LGBT homicide victims were transgender women.

Show that you’re really serious about supporting the LGBT community, by supporting our most vulnerable family members.

Putting transgender people at the front of LGBTQ+ marketing efforts
Graphic is in the colors of the Trans flag, in case you didn’t catch that. (PC)

2. Donate to SMALL Grassroots LGBT Non-Profits

The HRC gets a LOT of donations. It’s kind of like the RedCross of LGBT non-profits. When disaster strikes, it’s actually much better to donate to smaller orgs doing impactful work that can be measured, over the big kids on the block.

Don’t know who to donate to? Ask your LGBT employees who *they* give their money to. I’ll bet my money that it’s not the HRC.

Don’t know who to donate to? Ask your LGBT employees who *they* give their money to. I’ll bet my money that it’s not the HRC.

Also, while we’re at it — maybe try spending your ad money on websites that LGBTQ+ folks check daily, like Autostraddle.com. You know, market to the people where they hang out.

Just an idea.

How to avoid a crisis when marketing during LGBT pride

3. Rely on Word of Mouth Marketing

This is true when backing any non-profit. **Don’t** pull a Wells Fargo a la Spotify and brag about donating money. This will simply make community members go, “Oh yeah? And how much did you spend to brag about donating?

Instead, have the org you donate to put up a “Thank you!” on their social media channels and website, or a banner with your logo at events. WoM is still the HBIC, and can work against you (sorry not sorry, Wells Fargo).

Pinterest graphic: How to market to the LGBTQ+ community
Pride is a political movement, and charity ad spend is critical!

4. Don’t “Put a Rainbow” on It

“Rainbow washing” is to the LGBTQ+ community what “pink washing” is to breast cancer survivors.

Also, before donating — make sure your org treats LGBT employees the same as heterosexual ones. Do you offer equal paid parental leave for LGBT couples? Does your insurance company cover hormone therapy/surgery costs for trans folks?

If not, direct your money there first.

Advice for marketing during Pride month LGBTQ+

5. Tell Individual Stories

Instead of relying on tropes of the LGBTQ+ community, tell individual stories. Spotlight families (chosen and nuclear), as well as small businesses and specific communities with a city.

Because, right now, your pandering is annoying AF.

Want more marketing advice? Check out my website here, and let’s set up a time to chat. Have thoughts on how companies can best support the LGBT community? Let’s tweet about it.