A common mistake many companies make in trying to market to the LGBT+ community is the same mistake they make when using memes (see previous posts). The company is an outside group trying to use insider cues to market to an inside group, but often use these cues incorrectly.
With the LGBT+ community, it often goes much deeper. Many marketing schemes use performative allyship, which doesn’t cut it anymore. Performative allyship is the appearance of being pro-LGBT+, but then not following through or engaging in anti-LGBT+ actions. Many marketing tactics are very face-value: making crosswalks rainbow, for example. Skittles tried standing out from the crowd by making their product white for Pride Month (June) – essentially “letting the gays have the rainbow.” Aside from vague awareness building, this does hardly anything to support the LGBT+ community.
Some groups, like the Coachella music festival, like to advertise how open and progressive they are for accepting all kinds of love. In reality, the owner of Coachella Philip Anschutz donated money to anti-LGBT+ groups like the Family Research Council and Alliance Defending Freedom until recently.* In this age of technology and information, it is quite easy to discover whether or not a company backs its words or not. If you perform allyship, but don’t practice allyship in your marketing, hiring practices, or bathroom policies, people will know that your company is not actually an ally. Instead of simply saying you support us, show it. Donate part of your proceedings from ally-events to shelters or programs that help LGBT+ people or use your platform to raise awareness in a positive way. Be an ally all year round instead of only for one month when everyone is performing allyship. This isn’t to say that rainbow must be your company’s new color scheme, but charities and shelters need money twelve months out of the year.
Since the media makes mistakes easy to find, it is important how you handle this. GLAAD is a wonderful example. The organization began the Got Your Back campaign to raise awareness of what every letter of LGBTQIAP+ stands for, which is a noble goal. However, they did not do their research properly. GLAAD’s website originally reported that the A stood for Ally. This is not only incorrect, it contributes to the widespread erasure of asexual, aromantic, and agender individuals. When confronted about it, GLAAD publicly apologized and corrected the information on the website, including their own mistake in the description. That was the right move to make.
In this day and age, we’re at the point where just saying you’re an LGBT+ supporter isn’t enough. We have awareness – we need action.
*Anschutz has ceased donating since 2015 and has begun giving money to pro-LGBT+ groups such as the Colorado Anti-Violence Program since the donations have come to light. He did, however, try denying the fact of his past donations.