Every year LGBTQ communities around the world celebrate what could have been an ordinary night of police raids on suspected homosexual establishments in New York City. During the early hours of June 28th 1969, the Stonewall riots became one of many LGBTQ historical lighting rods. Systematic oppression and mistreatment of the LGBTQ community reached a critical tipping point and aggression was met with equal aggression. Yes, Pride was birth from the womb of a riot. Its screeching cry rocked a nation, empowered a people, and lifted a layered veil demanding to be acknowledged. The pendulum reached its lowest point where potential energy has been fully converted into kinetic energy.
I believe that we are at one of those pivotal moments of kinetic energy where LGBTQ issues are top of mind of talking-heads and decision makers. We must take advantage of this opportunity to stimulate meaningful dialogue, and more importantly, meaningful action.
Solely from a business perspective, June is the month when everyday commercial products and brands are suddenly decked out in jovial rainbow hues, dipped in glue and tossed in glitter. The celebration of same-sex love ooze in ads depicting couples holding hands, blissfully gazing into each other’s eyes and sharing tender bashful smiles. June is a company’s chance to parade their non-discriminatory practices & policies, benefits, and support of their LGBT workers and consumers. Brands are finally utilizing campaigns to foster the message of equality and diversity with a little twist of the arm, I might add.
According to a Google Consumer Survey from August 2014, “Pride campaigns” are in direct correlation with consumer conscious spending. For consumers under 34 years old, 45% said that they are “more likely to do repeat business with an LGBT-friendly company”. My only hope is that companies’ efforts toward inclusion are not merely gestures, but a positive swing in the right direction. How will we ever know? I’m banking on Newton’s Third Law of motion: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Case in point, of recent some groups are encouraging people to boycott companies like Wells Fargo, Tiffany & Co. for going “beyond being gay-friendly to being public advocates”. This is well within their right; however I plan on being on the right side by continuing being a conscious consumer.
The bridge of inclusion requires deliberate action and a willingness to incorporate groups within a structure. Incorporation is not assimilation, yet it preserves the uniqueness of the entity. LGBT businesses are unique and must be acknowledged as so. I encourage you to support your LGBT owned & LGBT friendly businesses. Also, if you are LGBT owned, by all means become certified through the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to open doors to larger corporations.
We are responsible for keeping the pendulum swinging in the right direction.
Lamont Stanley Bryant
Relationship/Business Development Manager