Want to Elevate Your Pride Outreach? Ask Yourself These 5 Questions

Avoid just 'checking the box' and truly support the queer community

After a year that tested society and ushered in an intense period of isolation for so many in the LGBTQ+ community, brands would be remiss if they failed to rethink and reframe their outreach to the queer community in light of a newly transformed landscape.

Even better than simply “checking the box” for Pride, brands and their agency partners have a unique opportunity—and, arguably, a mandate—to go further and do more to affect positive systemic change for the entire queer community, but particularly those smaller communities that frequently lack LGBTQ+ discrimination protections and often go unseen and unheard.

Are you planning your own Pride campaign or trying to connect with the queer community? Ask yourself these five questions:

Does your brand reach outside the privileged majority?

Although the queer community has a rich and vibrant history, too often the focus of Pride and the accompanying celebrations and advertising is on the most mainstream and arguably privileged narrative: that of the white cisgender male who lives in a Pride parade hub like New York, L.A. or Miami. But there are so many more stories to tell. From Black queer communities in the South to the rural transgender community, brands should reach out to—or better yet, shine a light on—underrepresented members.

Are you overly reliant on dated symbols?

We’ve all seen it. Brands gravitate toward the noncommittal simplicity of the original rainbow flag or publish vague statements like “Love is love.” Within the queer community, this can be perceived as not only disingenuous but also insensitive because it dehumanizes the queer experience. True corporate allies will look beyond the rainbow in their Pride outreach.

Have you addressed real narratives that matter to real people?

Brands often forget that when it comes to Pride, they’re trying to connect with real people that come from different regions, backgrounds, generations and experiences. Take the time to understand and calibrate your messaging to resonate with the entire queer community. Whether you’re addressing transmasculinity, celebrating the idea that you can look tough and still be sensitive or speaking to the nuances of what it means to be rural and trans, tell real stories that reflect the incredible diversity and intersectionality of the queer community.

Does your Pride campaign last longer than a month?

How long does Pride last for your brand? A week? A month? Consider the queer community and what Pride means to them: It means LGTBQ+ rights 24/7, 365 days a year. Support and outreach can’t be switched on and switched off. Brands should showcase the purposeful and measurable change they’re affecting. Pride is a celebration for the community by the community, not a time to make queer culture acceptable and enjoyable for straight people.

Are you honoring the origins of Pride?

When many brands and people think of Pride, they think of the parties and the parades, but this represents a stark contrast—and sometimes a complete unawareness—of Pride’s origins. Pride started as a riot, and it is tone-deaf to merely see it as a celebration, particularly when so many in the community have yet to gain equity and equality. It’s imperative that brands develop meaning and purpose that can be articulated with impact.

Pride outreach and messaging should celebrate the resilience, love and creativity that defined the queer community over the past year. Looking past the typical trauma narratives or rainbow tropes, brands should put forward real people and tell real stories that resonate with the entire community.