June has been a globally tumultuous month so far, but that will not take away from the rainbow-hued joy of Pride Month.
Pride isn’t just about parades and parties – it’s about holistically supporting a community of freedom fighters, who shook up society by choosing love and empowerment above all else. Social media is ablaze with rainbow flags, and protest signs, pictures from socially-distanced Pride celebrations, and messages of acceptance and equality. Some of the world’s most influential content creators are prominent members of the LGBTQ+ community, and their visibility in online communities has helped countless fans and followers come to love and accept themselves – not to mention the brands who got some serious education on how to treat people from all walks of life with respect.
The LGBTQ+ community on Instagram and beyond, have created incredibly moving coming-out videos, lent their talents to charitable causes, worked with brands (sadly all too often for free) to boost Pride campaigns and made themselves a ray of sunshine for so many unseen or overlooked souls. Influencers have the power to make a real difference to the way this world works, from rallying support for petitions and calling out brands for performative allyship when necessary. So, in honour of the outstanding LGBTQ+ community, who are proof that being true to yourself can have a real impact, we’re throwing in our two cents with a far from exhaustive list of strong queer voices to work with, and some tips for working with them respectively, as true allies.
SOME EXAMPLES OF LGBTQ+ INFLUENCERS TO WORK WITH:
- Megan and Whitney Bacon-Evans
Where To Find Them: @whatwegandidnext
Why They Rock: ‘Wegan’, as this lovely lesbian married couple are knows as (the first to appear on ‘Say Yes To The Dress’ UK, no less) are a femme lesbian couple who conquered a long-distance relationship between Hawaii and the UK, documenting their experience on their popular YouTube channel. Posting videos of their travels around the world and everyday life, with awareness brought to Megan’s disability and the odd viral challenge thrown in, these two are a creative credit to their community.
- Tom Cox
Where To Find Him: @unlikelydad
Why He Rocks: Perhaps the most lovely soul on the planet, Tom Cox is a gay, adoptive dad of one. Tom is the founder of The Unlikely Dad: a popular parenting blog that documents his life in Berkshire with husband Daniel and their adopted five-year old son Kai. Having recently nought a new house, he’s also busy bringing queer flare to the renovation community!
- Calum McSwiggan
Where To Find Him: @calummcswiggan
Why They Rock: Author of bestselling book Eat Gay Love, Calum is a British YouTuber, blogger, and online radio presenter. Constantly creating video content on LGBTQ+ issues, mental health, relationships and sex education, Calum is a role model to LGBTQ+ youth and an uplifting voice in the community.
- Jessica Kellgren-Fozard
Where To Find Her: @jessicaoutofthecloset
Why She Rocks: Bringing Old Hollywood glamour to the LGBTQ+ community, Jessica is a presenter, blogger and vlogger known for sharing her love of vintage style, delicious food and in-depth film reviews, as well as her unique life as a deaf lesbian.
- Jamie Windust
Where To Find Them: @jamie_windust
Why They Rock: Jamie is an abfab award-winning LGBTQ+ Editor in Chief, Freelance Writer, Public Speaker and Model. Their magazine FRUITCAKE was the 2018 winner at Graduate Fashion Week in London, and has been sold in countries all over the world.
- Paris Lees
Where To Find Her: @paris.lees
Why She Rocks: Paris is an outstanding journalist (currently working as a columnist for British Vogue), a presenter, and a transgender rights activist. She topped the Independent on Sunday’s 2013 Pink List, came second in the 2014 Rainbow List, and was awarded the Positive Role Model Award for LGBT in the 2012 National Diversity Awards.
- Munroe Bergdorf
Where To Find Her: @munroebergdorf
Why She Rocks: Munroe is a DJ and transgender activist, using Instagram to document her transition and experience as a black woman. In recent weeks, she battled it out with L’Oréal on Instagram who dropped her from a campaign a few years back, with Munroe effectively calling them out for racist mistreatment and then being asked to become an advisory board member for them, helping on issues of race and LGBTQ+ diversity.
- Connor Franta
Where To Find Him: @connorfranta
Why He Rocks: One of YouTube’s originals, Connor Franta creates vlogs, humorous sketches, and short films on his popular YouTube channel – he’s also an incredibly talented professional photographer, who’s shot for all kinds of publications, from GQ to Vogue. Franta came out in a YouTube video in 2014, that’s now been viewed over 12 million times, and since then he’s become an author, activist, and successful entrepreneur. Talk about talented!
- Tanya Compass
Where To Find Her: @tanyacompas
Why She Rocks: Tanya is an award-Winning Youth Worker and has been recognised as one of the UK’s top 100 most inspiring women. She’s also head of youth engagement for UK Black Pride, an organisation celebrating LGBTQ+ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Latin American descent.
- Jake Graf
Where To Find Him: @jake_graf5
Why He Rocks: Jake is a transgender actor, writer, father and director specialising in short films dealing with transgender issues in an effort to normalise queer and trans experiences to a wider, more mainstream audience. He is also a patron of Mermaids a UK charity supporting transgender and gender variant children and their families.
TIPS FOR WORKING WITH THE LGBTQ+ INFLUENCERS:
- Start with queer education and entertainment – Pride is of course a joyful celebration, but education and awareness will always be at its core. It’s easy to forget (amongst the sea of glitter and rainbows) that Pride was built on painful remembrance – specifically, in honour of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York City, led by transgender activist, Taraji P Henson. As a brand, it’s of the upmost importance that you improve your learning of LGBTQ+ history, which will in turn lead to a more successful Pride campaign in the future.
An amazing resource for this education is Jack Guinness’ Queer Bible on Instagram; a wonderfully inclusive space to learn about the LGBTQ+ community’s shared history, featuring original essays and illustrations celebrating LGBTQ+ heroes.
- Embrace the diversity of the community – Sadly, influencer marketing has become known for skewing towards white, thin people – even in the LGBTQ+ community. If this marketing tactic has been working for you up to this point (urgh), it will not work when marketing to the LGBTQ+ community.
Queer folks, who are attending Pride and following LGBTQ+ content creators are far more politically aware, and they are critical of the images they consume. Your campaigns need to include people of colour, different abilities. Otherwise, your mentions will blow up for all the wrong reasons.
- Work with the LGBTQ+ community outside of June – Otherwise, it’s just performative. It’s common to see LGBTQ+ influencers joke that Pride is like their golden quarter, when emails come flooding in for work requests, but where are these socially-driven organisations during the rest of the year?
There is a very easy way fix to this issue, and it comes down to relationships – specifically, long-term ones. Negotiate a year-long contract with LGBTQ+ influencers, with content going out monthly, building trust and authentic relationships within the LGBTQ+ community. Regardless of who you’re working with, influencer marketing works best when a brand sponsors multiple posts, creating multiple brand touch points.
- Put your money where your mouth is – If you’re going to work with LGBTQ+ community, who are still marginalised and therefore not the most affluent members of society, you have to cough up – no question. Community comes first, and your profit must come second. Do not, under any circumstances, try to leverage a marginalised group for your business’ “woke” exposure. Not paying for LGBTQ+ influencers’ labour is unethical, and will get you nowhere.
Pride is also a time to give back to the charities and organisations doing incredible work to support the wider LGBTQ+ community, so if you are planning on creating and selling a product for Pride month, make sure you always dedicate a percentage of the proceeds to a charity supporting the community you’re leveraging.
- Protect the community you’re advocating for – Safeguarding is really important when it comes to supporting the LGBTQ+ community, especially if you’re running a Pride campaign. Thanks to platform updates, it’s now much easier to do that.
Whilst reporting or deleting offensive comments that appear on your feed can help, it’s often at the risk of it already being read by your audience – which can be incredibly triggering if they’re part of the LGBTQ+ community. To help protect your audience on Instagram, you can now use the Instagram comment moderation tool to help you completely block bigotry terms or language.
Pride is a wonderful movement to celebrate, but when it comes to influencer marketing, brands need to truly connect with the queer community and work hard to build meaningful relationships with influencers before working with them. LGBTQ+ influencers have devoted their time and energy to supporting causes they truly care about, so it’s imperative that brands share those same values.
If you’re interested in launching a last-minute Pride campaign, or want to learn more about building meaningful relationships with influencers from all walks of life, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org