Making Cents of LGBTQ Folks During Pride: For "Straight" Businesses

“Hey Ben, other than turning my logo rainbow, how do I truly connect more deeply with the LGBTQ community during Pride?” My five cents...

$0.01: Becoming Candy Colored Once a Year Doesn’t Make You Any Sweeter. Adding any layer of rainbow to your logo during June doesn’t help you “win” over LGBTQ folks, clients or financial gain. For one, it’s the color of the season - you’re not standing out. Also, if the first time we’re seeing you or your logo is when it’s rainbow, it’s a signal to look you over very very carefully. Why? Let me explain…

$0.02: Want To Seem Authentic? Then Just Be Authentic. It takes just as much work. Maybe less, actually. The LGBTQ community is not without it’s connections and resources. We know who is trustworthy and safe and who’s not. Yes, you read that correctly: trustworthy and safe. Every day we are slandered, fired, beaten, murdered and ignored because of who we are. So knowing if you’re a trustworthy or safe place to openly spend our time, money or attention all year round is authenticity, plain and simple.

$0.03: Learn to Speak Our Real Language, Girl. Stop calling all gays “girls” or throwing around “shade!” or “Guuurl, yass!” or trying to talk to us like a desperate step-dad trying to look cool to his teenage kids. By “real language” we mean, understanding that not every couple is a bride OR groom. Or everything is exclusively about him/her. Or any other gendered language that might work for everyone else, but its a clear signal that maybe we’ll be tolerated, but likely not welcomed or understood.

$0.04: Mirror, Mirror in Your Marketing. Looking over your own marketing. Do you have pictures of LGBTQ individuals or couples, year round? Will we see ourselves when we look over your website or materials? Will we see faces of diversity represented? Because—fair warning— LGBTQ folks come in all shades, sizes, types, colors and conditions and expect to see more than one insinuated gay white couple. For the record.

$0.05: Engage Back or First. Stop asking why we’re not visiting or patronizing you, and learn how to engage with us first. Join an LGBTQ community group as an individual or business ally. Attend our events, our fairs, our Chamber of Commerce, our fundraisers, our marches, our gatherings. You’re not being excluded, You probably only think that because you’re excluding yourself and passively laying blame at our feet because you don’t know better.

Well, you do now.

The LGBTQ community is like any other - wonderfully human and unique - just like every other community. We only seem foreign or confusing because you’re looking at us behind glass. But you’re not at the zoo, this is the real world. We’re everywhere, engaged in everything, spending time, money and energy in things we love that truly love us back. And that could be you too if you learn how to look beyond your experience to truly experience ours in return. But that’s just my $0.05.

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