Pride parades, street marches, protests, and parties are starting to be held once again.
In addition to showing up for in person events, there's ample opportunity to show additional support by showing up online. Here’s how brands can ethically join the party (without ruining it).
Be Aware of Your Motivations
Are you celebrating someone else’s big day, or trying to make it about you? Pride is a time to use your platform to amplify minority voices and use your platform for good, not just immediate ROI by committing the next sin…
Slapping A Rainbow On It
Is your “activation”* just a lazy painting-the-corporate-logo-rainbow, or are you actually doing something, fresh, positive, and helpful? We’re sick of rainbow washing, and nobody needs more slap-dash rainbow logo t-shirts. Instead, look for ways your brand can actively engage in improving things and starting conversations.
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Remember, for those of us in the LGBTQ+ community, Pride isn’t an “activation opportunity” - it’s a personal, emotional and historical part of our community, culture and identity. Which leads to…
Don’t be tone-deaf
It can be tempting for copywriters to “sass up” their comms, and it’s been increasingly common to see brands using catchphrases like “yaaas queen,” and “slay”. But really, if that’s not your brand’s tone of voice and identity, at best it’s inauthentic, at worst it’s offensive stereotyping. This could be avoided if you take a policy of...
“Nothing for us, without us”
Are actual LGBTQ+ people involved in the creation of your campaign? No? Reach out. When working with queer talent, we know our audience, we know our culture and we know what will work and what won’t work. Don’t stifle creativity by keeping queer creators at arm’s length, but rather, involve us in the process and create a collaborative environment for a more genuine experience. This means you need to…
Look at diversity & inclusion
Who is your target market? Find queer people that look like them, and remember...queer people come in all shapes, all sizes, all races and religions, and yes, all gender expressions.
Don’t stunt cast (minorities can tell when we’re being used & baited), but instead, challenge yourself and your team to think broader. And as we’re on the topic of “who’s in the ads”, if you are launching a Pride collection (and to be fair, some of them are really cool)...
Select your talent wisely
The talent in your campaign can make or break it, and bigger follower numbers don’t always mean better. It’s important to properly do your research as brands have been burnt by using LGBTQ+ talent who haven’t developed a history of “giving back” (making it a clear money grab) or have been embroiled in personal scandals. As we’re on selecting talent, it’s great to involve allies but…
Don’t centre on straight acceptance
Pride is not about straight people accepting LGBTQ+ people, it’s about the LQBTQ+ community accepting and embracing ourselves. Don’t make the mistake one clothing brand did last year and launch your Pride collection by paying straight influencers to post empty aphorisms like “love is love”.
Straight Allies are fantastic, but only when they’ve earned that status through a history of work and meaningful support, not gatecrashers looking to make a buck. Oh, and if you’re coming to our party...
Pay the entrance price
This is the easiest one; if you’re not paying the entrance price, you can’t come in. And the entrance price for brands is charitable donations.
Queer charities desperately need funding, so we can forgive a clunky bit of copy if we can tell your heart is in the right place (i.e. a significant chunk of money is going to an important cause). But, “10% of sales” just isn’t good enough.
I shouldn’t have to state this, but unfortunately, I do...pay your queer talent! LGBTQ+ influencers are mobbed in the run-up to Pride season with brands “kindly reaching out” to send us whatever they’ve been working on. Asking people to market your brand or product for free rudely ignores that LGBTQ+ people face higher financial barriers and hardships. So, make sure you set aside enough money to pay LGBTQ+ content creators. But, also consider...
Going Grass Roots
The one alternative to making a charitable donation is to fund a grassroots community initiative (which isn’t always a charity, but still needs money). All over the country, there are LGBTQ+ sports clubs, meal services, singing groups, dance troupes, reading groups, as well as independent media sites and podcasts. These things exist because...
Pride is not just one day
While June is Pride Month, and many towns & cities have a dedicated Pride Day, we are LGBTQ+ 365 days a year. We don’t stop being proud, and neither should you. Consider breaking out and uplifting queer voices, causes, and talent other times of the year. (You’ll even get more cut-through as there’ll be fewer competing messages). You should also consider where you celebrate...
There is no one 'Pride'
Just as there is no one monolithic “LGBT community”, there is no one catch-all Pride. Sure, some of them are larger or older than others, but our community is multi-faceted, varied, diverse, and expansive. Consider supporting some of the great younger, more regional, or even more specific prides like UK Black Pride, Trans Pride, Imaanfest - Celebrating our differences, year-round is a surefire way to show your...
And that’s what it comes down to. Being authentic. An external campaign may sound like a great idea, but check your own internal structures and D&I policies in your workplace, and of your suppliers, first.
Don’t forget about us this summer
We're at a time when queer people are coming under fire again (trans* rights are being repealed by the government, and homophobic hate crimes are rising by alarming figures) so we need support in the fight year in, year out.
Stand with us, and be proud.
Alexis Caught is a queer writer, podcaster, rugby player and first-ever influencer to do a “royal take over” as Kensington Palace gave him access to their Instagram to launch Mental Health Awareness Week 2020.
This article was originally published on the Tagger Blog in May, 2020. Tagger Media made a charitable donation to The AKT in return for this blog post. Please consider contributing.