a man at an LGBTQ+ pride event smiling at a police officer who is also smiling

Unconventional Linking: Pride

June 11, 2018

In celebration of Pride month, we looked back to the 1969 Stonewall Riots, the first time the story was widely told, and the importance of listening to the stories of others.

In 1989, radio producer Dave Isay made his first radio documentary, ‘Remembering Stonewall’ giving voices to the young, gay, transgender mostly black and Latino people responsible for what we consider today to be the modern gay rights movement.

29 years on, LGBTQ+ people have more share of voice than ever before, with many brands and marketers seemingly keen to recognize and reflect this, but what feels like inclusion and what feels like exploitation?


Every June, a flurry of brands brings out their Pride-related merch. Riese, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com explains there are ‘rules’ for what gives a brand permission to do this and feel authentic as opposed to manipulative. Here, she rates 2017 Pride apparel by ‘integrity’.

Image © Andrew Yee for MeUndies


Sephora is one brand receiving praise for getting it right. The French cosmetics chain has recently expanded its “Classes for Confidence beauty program”, introducing “Bold Beauty for the Transgender Community,” a free in-store class for people who identify as transgender or non-binary.

Image © Sephora


As an industry, however, advertising seems not to be doing as much as it could or should as an LGBTQ+ ally. Advertising should hold a mirror up to society and culture, indeed, commercials can be powerful tools for promoting empathy and inclusion.

However, Stonewall reveals an absence of creative and media brands in its workplace equality index, that PrideAM describes as shameful.

smirnoff-we-are-open campaign

It comes as no surprise then that Marketing Week reports that the LGBTQ+ community is still ‘least well represented’ in advertising, with marketers often failing to include a range of gender identities and sexualities in advertising.

One alcohol brand keen to change this is Diageo’s Smirnoff, that aims to give visibility to the non-binary community by moving towards gender-neutral advertising in their current “We are Open” campaign.

Image © Tom Van Schelven for 72andsunny NY & Diageo


Firefish’s Emmelia Wells put the question “to what extent do you feel brands are allies?” to some members of the LGBTQ+ community, and below you can read all about what they had to say.

Feel like your brand could do more to be a genuine year-round LGBTQ+ ally? Get in touch and let us know if you’d like to listen to what this audience has to say and don’t forget to sign up to future Unconventional Linking emails here, if you enjoyed what you’ve read.


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