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7 Ways Brands Are Authentically Supporting LGBTQ+ Youth—Beyond Advertising

May 12 2022

From podcasts to inclusive social media campaigns, here’s seven brands supporting LGBTQ+ young people…


TL;DR:

  • Twenty-two percent of Gen Z and Millennials identify as LGBTQ+, and Gen Z is more likely to be LGBTQ+ than any other gen
  • Young people want brands to support the causes they’re passionate about, including LGBTQ+ discrimination / rights
  • Brands’ LGBTQ+ efforts need to go beyond merch and Pride Month campaigns to authentically reach this community

In the last five years, the number of Gen Z and Millennials who identify as LGBTQ+ has increased. The pandemic has certainly played a role in young people’s self identification as well as young public figures like JoJo Siwa, Demi Lovato, Lil Nas X, and more openly talking about their stories as LGBTQ+ individuals. Gen Z in particular is more likely to identify as LGBTQ+ compared to Millennials, and as they call on brands to support the issues they care about, it’s vital for brands across industries to represent this demographic in real, actionable ways. Previously, the norm for brands has been creating rainbow-themed merch and only speaking up during Pride Month–something we’ve warned against in the past. For brands to truly support LGBTQ+ youth, their efforts need to go beyond rainbow themed packaging for one month out of the year. Luckily, more brands have been taking this 365 approach to representing and caring for the LGBTQ+ community. Here are 7 that have stepped up their focus on LGBTQ+ consumers:

Netflix’s The Gay Agenda Podcast
In January, Netflix’s launched The Gay Agenda, a podcast celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. Created by lesbian actress, singer/songwriter, and podcaster Jasmin Savoy Brown, The Gay Agenda looks at the lives of LGBTQ+ creatives across multiple industries, sharing their stories “through a loving and humorous lens.” Jasmin Savoy Brown co-hosts the show with producer and nonbinary actor, comic, and playwright Liv Hewson, adding “[The Gay Agenda] is serious and it isn’t. Part of the impetus behind this podcast was creating a space to talk about being LGBTQ in entertainment that centered on something other than pain.” Netflix has launched over 40 podcasts since creating the entertainment division, with The Gay Agenda marking its first LGBTQ-centered cast. The first season included 45-minute episodes released over eight weeks, featuring conversations with actors Bex Taylor-Klaus, Natalie Morales, Ally Beardsley, and more. The podcast is produced by Most, “Netflix’s banner for its LGBTQ+ storytelling.” YPulse’s Representation in Action trend research shows demand for diverse storytelling and entertainment (especially content that focuses on both positive and negative experiences) is vital for reaching Gen Z and Millennials, and Netflix is clearly committed to increasing representation for LGBTQ+ individuals.


Sony Music Group x GLAAD
To amplify LGBTQ+ voices in the music world, Sony Music Group is partnering with GLAAD to provide education-focused sessions to its employees and leadership with the goal of building awareness and understanding for LGBTQ+ people and issues. The GLAAD Media Institute is consulting with Sony on its campaigns and programs aimed at highlighting LGBTQ+ issues and people, and is producing a three-part “Icons” Interview Series bringing together LGBTQ+ musicians, songwriters, and producers to discuss the history of inclusion in music, the current state of the industry, and how strides can be made for the future. Additionally, Sony Music Group was the official sponsor of the 33rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards this past April and May, which recognizes “media for fair, accurate, and inclusive representation of LGBTQ+ people and issues,” as well as artists and songwriters a part of the community. Not only is it important for the entertainment industry to accurately represent LGBTQ+ creators, partnering with LGBTQ+ organizations like GLAAD is a way brands beyond the entertainment industry can educate their workforce and build inclusive campaigns.

House Wine’s #ShowUsYourPrideWins Campaign
In March, House Wine introduced a #ShowUsYourPrideWins campaign, a year-long effort aimed at uplifting the LGBTQ+ community. The campaign is a call to action for brands, organizations, and allies to hold year-round conversations about Pride while celebrating the wins / stories of the LGBTQ+ community. #ShowUsYourPrideWins coincides with the House Wine Rainbow Rosé Bubbles partnership with the Human Rights Campaign where “a portion of proceeds from every can of Rainbow Rosé Bubbles goes to the Human Rights Campaign to keep fighting for LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion.” House Wine is using its social media channels to educate users on the issues LGBTQ+ community faces and to celebrate their #PrideWins, which is a major step in the right direction for authentic representation, too. Beyond social media, committing a portion of proceeds to LGBTQ+ organizations like the Human Rights Campaign is one of the biggest ways brands can show actionable support for this demographic of young people.

The Body Shop’s Campaign Calling For Support Of The 1964 Equality Act
The personal care brand has recently shifted its mission-driven values to align closer with the social issues Gen Z and Millennials care about including a sharper focus on mental well-being, climate activism, and sustainability. The Body Shop has always been a mission-driven brand by focusing on anti-animal testing. And now, the company is going after relevant topics with Gen Z and Millennials, including mental well-being, social equality, climate activism, and sustainability. As part of its focus on mental well-being, the beauty retailer will launch a social media campaign focused on non-government organizations, starting with calling for support of an update to the 1964 Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The initiative specifically focuses on the mental wellness of the LGBTQ+ community. While getting involved in government legislation can be a fine line for brands to walk, our Causes, Charity, and Activism Report shows 36% of Gen Z and 25% of Millennials are passionate about LGBTQ+ rights, and 15% of young consumers believe brands can make the biggest difference in the world. With that, it’s important for brands that do get involved in politics to ensure they’re also backing up their actions with internal efforts, too.

H&M’s Giving Tuesday Campaign with The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ young people, offering 24/7 crisis services including TrevorLifeline, TrevorChat, and TrevorText plus counseling resources. For the past two years, H&M has partnered with The Trevor Project by offering to match donations to support the organization’s mission of helping LGBTQ+ young people in crisis. H&M first partnered with The Trevor Project during Giving Tuesday in 2020, teaming up with Billy Porter while offering to donate $250,000 in a match campaign aimed at encouraging others to donate to The Trevor Project to support LGBTQ+ youth. And last year, H&M continued its Giving Tuesday campaign with The Trevor Project by matching donations up to $100,000 in support of the orginization’s Every Single One fundraising campaign working to end suicide amongst LGBTQ+ young people. At the end of the day, authentically supporting LGBTQ+ youth goes beyond advertising. One of the most impactful ways brands can support this community is by donating money to LGBTQ+ organizations like The Trevor Project to help them continue fulfilling their mission of being there for LGBTQ+ youth during every second of their lives. Brands including Google, Macy’s, State Farm, Abercrombie & Fitch, Lululemon, P&G, and more are some of The Trevor Project’s growing list corporate partners helping it continue fulfilling its mission.

Taco Bell’s Drag Brunch Tour Spotlighting the It Gets Better Project
This summer, Taco Bell will host a drag brunch at Cantina locations in Las Vegas, Nashville, Chicago, New York City, and Fort Lauderdale. The concept originated from Live Más Pride, the chain’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group, and signals how it’s celebrating LGBTQ+ for its next experiential event with an event that has long been used to empower the LGBTQ+ community. Each performance will spotlight the It Gets Better Project by providing attendees with information on how to get involved with the nonprofit aimed at connecting LGBTQ+ youth around the world. The It Gets Better Project was created in 2010 as a result of “one of the most successful viral video campaigns in YouTube’s history,” and now provides support to LGBTQ+ youth around the world through storytelling, media, and educational resources. For brands that truly want to make positive change for LGBTQ+ youth, partnering with nonprofits like the It Gets Better Project and The Trevor Project is a good first step as they are already dedicated to authentically serving this community of young people.

Absolut Vodka Supporting Struggling LGBTQ+ Bars
During the pandemic, many bars and restaurants struggled during the pandemic. But LGBTQ+ establishments especially, were “significantly more vulnerable” and saw a steady decline that was made worse by COVID—nearly a 30% regression since 2017. Studies show that LGBTQ+ bar lists have declined by 15.2% between 2019 and 2021—on top of a 14.4% decline between 2019 and 2019. To support LGBTQ+ bars that struggled during this time, Absolut Vodka partnered with SNL comedian Bowen Yang and the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC)  on Out & Open, an ongoing campaign that celebrates the safe spaces created by bars and restaurants. The initiative plans on raising funds for programs that will train the next gen of LGBTQ+ business owners. The alcohol brand will be publishing an audio-visual series on its site and social media that “brings to life real stories from inside the walls of these safe spaces,” real members from the LGBTQ+ (including Yang) will share their personal stories, and for every listen on an Absolut Out & Open story through the end of June, the brand will increase its $175,000 donation to the NGLCC by an extra $1 to fund succession planning education and training.

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