When police raided the Stonewall Inn on June 28th, 1969, the last thing that was expected was for patrons to fight back – but that’s exactly what they did. This ignited the modern LGBTQ+ civil rights movement, and became known as the first Pride.
Since then, Pride has been leveraged by brands as an opportunity to appear inclusive with a wide variety of advertising targeted towards the community. This is the exact sort of approach that can backfire, though. Queer consumers are queer all twelve months of the year, not one. Market researchers have found that LGBTQ+ households have a combined spending power of about $965 billion and ignoring that simply isn’t a strong business move.
What changes can brands start implementing right now to show they’re aligned with inclusivity beyond the month of June? For starters, ditch the Pride-month only strategy. Your marketing strategies should be inclusive all year long, and that means actively thinking about LGBTQ+ people as being significant members of your audience.
Brand imagery is another great way to advertise effectively - no matter what you’re selling, human beings will likely be featured in your campaigns. Show same-sex couples or androgynous individuals in your advertisements. Bonus points for doing this even if your initiative isn’t LGBTQIA-focused.
Most importantly, if you publicly support the community and receive backlash about it, stand your ground. Recently, large corporations have been on the receiving end of ridicule for being inclusive, especially Bud Light and Target.
Sure, getting called out by conservative members of the public can cause discomfort, but retreating from confrontation is considered performative allyship. Allyship is not meant to be comfortable. That’s the whole point. The good news is, brands don’t have to get this right overnight. Queer people will be paying attention long after June ends. We aren’t going anywhere.