Every June, queer people around the world recognize and celebrate Pride Month, a time for the global LGBTQIA+ community to embrace who they are, celebrate their accomplishments, and reflect on their struggles — past and present.
Pride Month is also a time for allies — corporate and individual — to show up for the community, and one way to do so is with the power of social media.
For brands and small businesses, it gives them the opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of Pride, support the community, and cultivate impactful change.
If you’re looking for actionable ways to show up and celebrate Pride on social media, keep reading.
What Pride is Really About
Pride is more than just a parade that happens once a year.
In fact, it is deeply entrenched in the queer liberation movement — one of the most famous events being the Stonewall Riots back in June 1969.
Fed up with police persecution and demanding to live openly and freely as their true selves, members of the queer community began to demonstrate at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village in New York City.
The Stonewall Riots weren’t the first demonstration, however.
The fight for queer liberation has been a long one that continues even today, with earlier acts of protest and resistance led by Black and Brown trans women.
Pride marks an occasion to remind everyone of the violence and struggles queer people have endured over the years (even more so for those who are Black, Indigenous, and people of colour).
For an in-depth understanding of the history of Pride, check out this resource.
What Does LGBTQIA+ Mean?
LGBTQIA+ is an initialism that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual.
The “plus” denotes other members of the queer community whose identity isn’t necessarily reflected with these letters.
Other variations do exist, however.
In Canada, it’s common to use 2SLGBTQ+, taking into consideration Indigenous two-spirit people.
How to Acknowledge and Celebrate Pride Month on Social Media
Pride Month isn’t the only time a brand should recognize the queer community on social media.
In reality, brands should be putting money and marketing efforts towards visible representation in June…in addition to efforts year-round.
Do you include queer folks in your marketing campaigns beyond Pride?
Do you have internal practices ensuring queer people of all backgrounds feel safe and welcome at your workplace?
These are all questions to consider before celebrating Pride on social media.
And when you are ready to plan a Pride campaign, keep these tips in mind:
Educate Yourself and Your Community
Collaborate With LGBTQIA+ Creators Year-round
Amplify Queer-focused Organizations
#1: Educate Yourself and Your Community First
Marketing is an important tool for educating, advocating, and raising awareness, and marketers are gatekeepers with tremendous power and influence.
However, oftentimes, those who make marketing decisions do so based on what reflects their own identity.
So, it’s crucial that you and your team are educated on the unique struggles the queer community faces to ensure you’re able to effectively advocate through your content.
Additionally, “passing the mic” to a queer person to share their experience and educate your audience is an opportunity to go a step further.
That said, sharing personal experiences can be a heavy task, so remember to adequately compensate the queer people you work with for their time, energy, and labor.
#2: Collaborate With LGBTQIA+ Creators Year-round
As a brand, it’s important to recognize the intersectional identities existing within the queer community.
Partnering with diverse creators gives your brand a chance to better reflect the world we live in and demonstrate your commitment to amplifying marginalized voices beyond what might be considered more “palatable."
Every creator has their own experience and perspective that adds even more layers of understanding and value for your audience.
Here are 10 inspiring LGBTQIA+ influencers to follow, work with, and learn from:
Jamie of @justjamiep: Jamie is a content creator, on-air fashion expert, and trans activist with over 220K followers on TikTok.
Kairyn Potts of@ohkairyn: Kairyn is a two-spirit content creator and member of the Nakota Sioux Nation. He uses his platform to raise awareness of Indigenous issues and to educate others about his culture.
Kayla Logan of @kaylaloganblog: Kayla is a plus-size, body positive creator who focuses on realistic conversations around mental health, fat liberation, fashion, and confidence.
Dexter Mayfield of @dexrated: Dexter is a plus-size model and dancer who's worked with the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift. He’s also a judge on the reality television dance competition, Come Dance with Me.
Krystian of @krystian_gabrielle: Krystian is a wife and mother of two who shares snapshots of her daily life as both a Black woman and part of a LGBTQIA+ family.
Owin Pierson of @owinpierson: Owin is a mental health and AAPI creator who shares snippets of his travels, along with conversations and information about the LGBTQIA+ community.
Myla of @pradaolic: Myla is a model, artist, and digital creator who shares regular makeup looks in their signature “ethereal” style.
Megan of @msgigggles: Megan is a plus-size, queer, mixed Latina creator who shares content on all things food, fashion, and fat activism.
Meg of @megemikoart: Meg is an Asian-American trans, non-binary artist and activist who uses their platform to educate others on the queer community.
Thaddeus of @hippypotter: Thaddeus is an illustrator and model who uses his platform to uplift and inspire with “Hippy-designed” affirmations and captions.
TIP: When researching influencer partners, don’t stop at those whose identities are the most “socially accepted,” ie. white, cis-gender, average-size, etc.
#3: Amplify Queer-focused Organizations
Use the influence your brand holds to amplify the messaging and work of nonprofit organizations who support the LGBTQIA+ community.
You can do this in a number of ways:
Sharing the brand on your social media to raise awareness
Donating money to help the organization continue its work
Asking the organization how you can best support them — whether it’s through pro bono work, mentorship opportunities, volunteering your time, etc.
Here are three queer-focused organizations to follow and support on social media:
Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN): The Ontario HIV Treatment Network is a non-profit network which aims to “improve the health and lives of people living with and at risk of HIV by using data and evidence to drive change.”
2 Spirits in Motion Society (2SiMS): The 2 Spirits in Motion Society’s mission is “to create, maintain, and strengthen a safe and supportive environment for 2 Spirit people to express themselves through cultural ways of knowing and being around gender and sexuality.”
Social Media for Pride: Dos and Don’ts
When building out your content calendar for Pride (or creating content targeting the queer community in general), keep this checklist in mind:
Educate yourself and your team on the significance of Pride so your allyship isn’t performative.
Understand and use the correct pronouns (and if you don’t know them, ask).
Ensure content is intersectional and showcases a spectrum of the diversity existing within the LGBTQIA+ community.
Use the Progress Pride Flag, which includes additional colors to denote and represent marginalized communities of color and trans folks.
Demonstrate a commitment to authentic allyship throughout the year.
Pass the mic to members of the community.
Solely change your brand’s social media icons/logo to a rainbow.
Back down in the face of adversity or hateful comments. LGBTQIA+ people aren’t given that luxury in their everyday lives.
Use stereotypes of the community. This only panders to negative rhetoric about LGBTQIA+ people.
Use the month solely as an opportunity to sell a product.
In the End
Celebrating Pride Month on social media is about doing more than a singular post in June.
It starts with your internal practices, and extends to how you choose to include, portray, and partner with the LGBTQIA+ community in your marketing efforts.
Their insights and voices are unique and invaluable — and reflect a spectrum of lived experiences that should be heard year-round.
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Editor’s Note: This author recognizes the land this article was written on is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation and he is here because this land was occupied. This author acknowledges his responsibility to decolonize himself as a settler and protect, honor, and sustain this land that has been a site of human activity for thousands of years.