4 Takeaways from the HRC’s New Future-Proofing Business Report

As society continues to grow and evolve, corporate leaders who want to secure their business’s future must take mindful, strategic steps to embrace and connect with the LGBT community and allies.

In January, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC) released Future-Proofing Business: Embracing Today and Tomorrow’s LGBTQ+ Workers and Customers—a report investigating the diversity and inclusion of LGBT workers and customers. Here are our top 4 takeaways.

1. Gen Z and Millenials are a majority of the LGBTQ community

7.1% of US adults self-identify as part of the LGBT community and Gen Z seems to be the main driver of that growth, with 21% identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or similar. That means that 1 in every 5 adult members of Generation Z self-identify as LGBTQ.

It’s no surprise that people of Generation Z are the largest proportion of the LGBTQ community. Having grown up deeply integrated in the world of social media and being able to voice their own experiences and opinions so easily, Gen Zers tend to be more open-minded.

Not only are Gen Z and Millenials a majority of the LGBTQ community, but they are also more likely to have friends and family members in the community. So it makes sense that Gen Z and Millenials are deeply considered about the future of LGBTQ rights, even with the executive order recently signed by President Biden

2. Workforce demographics are shifting (younger workforce)

As younger generations account for larger shares of the population, workforce demographics are also shifting.

This shift in demographics will define the future of the workplace because younger generations operate differently. Their upbringing, experiences, and values differ greatly from the generations before them.

Aside from things like remote working and integrating better work-life balance, a younger workforce will emphasize diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Today, the current workforce is more openly LGBTQ and pro-equality than ever before, and that’s only expected to grow over the coming years.

3. Workplace culture is dependent on inclusivity

With the workforce leaning on Generation Z and Millenials, the future is bright for the LGBTQ community. 

It wasn’t until 1973 that homosexuality was no longer considered a mental disorder. Since then, there has been great progress toward creating a more inclusive workplace. But the fight isn’t over. 

 A 2022 study from GLAAD and Edelman Trust Institute of 2,000 Americans found that U.S. employees are 4.5 times more likely to want to work at a company if it publicly supports and demonstrates a commitment to expanding and protecting LGBTQ+ rights.

LGBTQ employees thrive in inclusive workplaces. They thrive in many ways mentally, personally, and professionally including:

  • Greater job commitment
  • Increased well-being at work 
  • Stronger relationships with teammates 
  • Improved mental health

Inclusive workplace environments benefit not only employees but the company’s bottom line as well. Businesses that promote inclusive workplace environments see:

  • More successful recruitment 
  • Improved employee engagement and retention
  • Increased sales
  • Improved customer loyalty
  • More positive business reputation 

An inclusive workplace indeed benefits everyone

4. Pride is 365 days a year, not just June.

Celebrating Pride is a great way to show your allyship with your employees and the community, but it shouldn’t be the only way you do it.

Workplace inclusion is 24/7, 365 days a year—it doesn’t start and end in June.

There are several ways businesses can support the LGBTQ community all year long. Here are a few options:

  • Inclusive marketing: Leadership should regularly meet with marketing and communications departments to promote inclusive marketing year-round. Inclusive marketing considers diversity in all forms: age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and gender identity.
  • Be an equal-opportunity employer: If you haven’t already, commit to being an equal-opportunity employer. This means that as an employer, you prioritize employing people from diverse backgrounds, including LGBTQ people, and providing fair compensation.
  • Be honest: No ally is perfect. We all make mistakes, it’s what makes us human, but owning up to those mistakes is equally as important. Admitting to your faults and making active steps to do better in the future is one of the best ways to support the LGBTQ community.
  • Train your staff: Company-wide training sessions are critical to ensuring inclusion in the workplace and a positive culture. You want to create a workplace that employees want to come to every day and feel comfortable being themselves. Training sessions should focus on company values, pronouns, gender-neutral language, how to be an ally, how to report discrimination, and more. 

Guide to authentic advertising for Gen Z, the queerest generation ever

Is Generation Z the queerest generation ever? Possibly.

7.1% of US adults self-identify as part of the LGBTQ community and Gen Z seems to be the main driver of that growth with 21% identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or similar. That means that 1 in every 5 adult members of Generation Z self-identify as LGBTQ.

Marketers and advertisers need to take advantage of this opportunity to connect with a larger LGBTQ audience by focusing on authentic advertising.

An open-minded generation

The generational group with the largest proportion of LGBTQ people is Generation Z. They’ve grown up during some of the most pivotal moments for the LGBTQ community including the Supreme Court’s recognition of same-sex marriage.

Not only are Gen Z a majority of the LGBTQ community, but they are also more likely to have friends and family members in the community. So it’s no surprise they’re deeply concerned about the outlook for LGBTQ rights. With the overturn of Roe vs. Wade and 9 states banning transgender athletes from playing on sports teams, the future is certainly discouraging.  

The majority of generation Z also grew up fully immersed in the world of social media. Whether it be Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, or Linkedin, they’ve always had quick access to information—and vast opportunities to share their own experiences and platform. They’re a unique generation who are unafraid to voice their mind and opinions.

Gen Zers have some key differentiators that set them apart from other generations:

  • They don’t remember what life was like before the internet and smartphones and are a digital-first group.
  • They are on track to be the most well-educated generation to date.
  • They are more racially and ethnically diverse than previous generations.

Connecting with Gen Z through advertising 

In 2022, Business Insider estimated Gen Z spending power at over $360 billion in disposable income, more than double what was estimated three years ago. So they have the money to spend, but they’re selective about who they purchase from.

Generation Z consumers want to feel connected to the brands they purchase from. They are deeply interested in the mission and values of an organization and want a greater understanding of how they operate. Things like giving back to the community, transparency, and sustainability are really important to this generation, so marketers may need to adjust their strategies.

When advertising to Gen Z consumers, marketers should focus on a few different areas: 

  • Authenticity: Authenticity over perfection, always. It’s been shown time and time again that Gen-Z consumers value authenticity when they evaluate products and services. Companies need to prioritize transparency to better connect with Gen Z consumers.
  • Storytelling: Everyone has a story to tell and Gen Z wants to hear it. Every day, Gen Zers are bombarded with advertisements from brands and it can be difficult to compete for their attention. Storytelling is a unique way to personalize an ad campaign and evoke empathy and understanding from the reader, making it more like for them to purchase from you. 
  • Influencer marketing: In 2022, influencer marketing spending increased from 3.69 billion to 4.14 billion in the US alone. With rise of social media and social commerce, those numbers are only expected to increase. It’s not for every brand, but it could be an avenue worth exploring.
  • Print advertising: Yes, Gen Z is a digital-first group but they like to consume content in all forms and print media is becoming increasingly popular with this generation.

Using print media to build authentic relationships

Gen Z likes to consume content in a variety of ways, so limiting advertising to digital-only reduces the potential impact of your campaign. There are several reasons why Gen Z connects with print media:

  • Tactile experience: Gen Z responds strongly to tactile experiences. MNI Targeted Media conducted a media consumption survey and found that 83% of Gen Z turn to newspapers for trusted information and content, and 34% turn to magazines. This generation is embracing physical products and actively choosing them over digital media.
  • More authentic: Print media is known for highly personalized, deeply authentic content. Younger generations have been tricked into inauthentic and misleading information through digital ads for years, so they are experts at spotting them and have high expectations. Print has the reputation of being held to a higher standard, and Gen Z understands that.
  • Promotes better focus: How many times have you been reading an article or were simply scrolling through social media when you get a notification? Gen Z is surrounded by screens all day, every day and are being constantly bombarded with notifications. Print media allows them to take a break from those distractions, which means that your brand gets 100% of their attention.
  • Nostalgic-like experience: Print never went out of style, but the Millenial generation certainly didn’t connect with print media like we’d hoped. Generation Z has been known to bring back old trends and tried and true favorites. Take vinyl sales for example. In 2021, vinyl sales saw a 94% increase and the main consumers behind that were Gen Z.

5 ways to support LGBT employees mental health

Mental health has always been an important topic, but it hasn’t been until the past couple of years that leaders have discussed it in the workplace. This conversation is vital for all employees, but underrepresented and minority employee groups have distinct mental health needs that workplace leaders must be aware of. 

Let’s take a look at 5 ways leadership can support the mental health of LGBT employees.

1. Learn about the signs of mental illness

Before you can support the mental health of your employees, you need to know what to look out for! Mental illness looks different for everyone and can be hard to detect. Here are some warning signs of mental illness:

  • Changes in mood
  • Lack of motivation
  • An abrupt change in habits
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Easily tried or extreme exhaustion 
  • Loss of interest in activities

Knowledge is power; by learning about the early signs of mental illness, you can better support your LGBT employees.

2. Respect their identity

Mental wellness starts at the very core of who you are. Respecting people’s identity and their right to privacy is essential regarding mental health.

LGBT employees face many potential challenges, judgments, or biases in the workforce. And while there’s no checklist on how to respect a person’s identity, here are a couple of good places to start:

  • Do your research: Educate yourself on the challenges that LGBT employees face and brainstorm solutions on how to create a culture of support and inclusivity. 
  • Be an ally: Advocate for the health and wellness of your LGBT employees. Create policies that eliminate discrimination and build an inclusive workplace culture

3. Provide education to your employees (and peers!)

Companies should engage in regular training on unconscious bias, mental health, gender inclusion, and LGBT identity. 

Some important topics to cover include:

  • Allyship
  • Gender inclusive language 
  • Communication
  • Exploring health benefits
  • Mental health
  • Diversity and inclusion

A lot of times, when employees hear the word ‘webinar’ or ‘training’ their eyes glaze over because in the past, these trainings have been dull and the learnings stop after the webinar is over. As an employer, it’s important to structure these conversations in an engaging way that encourages questions and deeper conversations.

LGBT inclusion and diversity training supports stronger employee relationships, attracts top talent, decreases turnover, and creates a safe workplace environment.

4. Provide resources and inclusive benefits

There’s no one-size-fits-all benefits package. Oftentimes, benefits packages need to be tailored to the specific needs of LGBT employees. Here are a few areas where employers can offer more inclusive benefits:

  • Fertility support: Adoption, in-vitro fertilization, egg freezing, and surrogate motherhood can be challenging to navigate independently. Employers should consider offering financial support and assistance to LGBT employees wanting to start a family.
  • Parental leave: New parents need support as they learn the ropes of parenthood. Paid time off is essential for caring for a new child, whether that person carried the child or not.
  • Healthcare: Employers can extend health benefits (medical, vision, dental) to include an employee’s domestic partner. 
  • Paid time off: Flexible paid time off policies are essential to care for the mental health of all employees. Sometimes, employees don’t need a doctor’s note, they just need a break.

Along with inclusive benefits, employers need to create a safe space where LGBT employees can get direct support from each other. For virtual and hybrid workers, a safe space doesn’t have to be a physical space. It can be an employee resource group that meets online or even a Slack channel where LGBT employees can openly and honestly connect.

5. Donate to organizations fighting the good fight

There’s no shortage of non-profit organizations fighting to support the LGBT community. As a workplace leader, donating your time and money to these organizations is a great way to actively support your LGBT employees.

To support young professionals and LGBT youth, consider donating to The Trevor Project. This organization provides 24-hour crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBT youth. 

Your donation to the Trevor Project would help fund critical suicide prevention tools and ensure that Trevor can continue to advocate against anti-LGBT laws and work with policymakers to pass legislation that protects LGBT youth.

Allyship is a community role

We all play an essential part in helping LGBT employees feel safe in the workplace and it starts with leadership.

7 LGBT Non-profits to Consider for Your Year-End Giving

2022 is coming to a rapid end, which means that it’s the perfect time to donate to the organizations that mean the most to you. As you decide which charity to give to, remember to choose one that aligns with your values and passions. Current events and major life changes may have caused your interests to shift, so consider that in your year-end contributions.

Before you open your wallet, you want to ensure that your hard-earned money is going to an organization that is transparent about how they use their funds. Here is a list of 7 LGBT non-profits to consider for your year-end giving.

The Trevor Project

LGBT youth are more than 4 times as likely to attempt suicide than their peers. The Trevor Project addresses this health disparity and provides 24-hour crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth. 

Trained counselors are available 365 days a year, free of charge, through online chat, phone, or even text. If you’re not ready to connect with a counselor, other support options are available through TrevorSpace and their in-depth research library.

Your donation to the Trevor Project would help fund critical suicide prevention tools and ensure that Trevor can continue to advocate against anti-LGBT laws and work with policymakers to pass legislation that protects LGBT youth.


No one should have to choose between their well-being and education, and GLSEN is fighting to protect and empower LGBT students.

Founded by a group of teachers in 1990, GLSEN is fighting for every student to have a safe, supportive, and LGBTQ-inclusion K-12 education through its inclusive curriculum. The nonprofit was also a key player in passing the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act, which protects children from discrimination in schools based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Today, GLSEN has a national network of more than 1.5 million students, families, and educators working together to create safe schools.

Gender Spectrum

Gender Spectrum works to create gender-sensitive and inclusive environments for all children and teens. The nonprofit organization provides consultation, training, and events designed to help families, educators, professionals, and organizations understand the concepts and complexities of gender identity and expression.

Gender Spectrum offers online consulting for organizations and free online groups for pre-teens, teenagers, parents, and other adults to connect and share experiences. 

Row House Publishing

The LGBT community faces equality challenges in nearly every aspect of life, including publishing. As of 2018, 79% of all publishing professionals were white, as were 90% of all published authors.

Row House Publishing is on a mission to create an equitable publishing model that represents the values and diversity of the authors and audience it embraces. Its model supports authors from diverse and unique backgrounds, whether it be ethnic, racial, economic, orientation, and identification. 

Row House has a unique approach that leverages a large social media reach to support authors in organically developing and growing their audiences to deliver their books to those who need them most. This new way of publishing focuses on both supporting authors and honoring antiracist and inclusive principles.

Fair Fight

Everyone has a right to vote, regardless of gender identity, race, or orientation.

Fair Fight is working to ensure that every American, no matter their race, gender, or ethnicity, has an equal opportunity to vote. This nonprofit promotes fair elections around the country, encourages voter participation in all elections, and educates voters about their right to vote.

Unfortunately, vote suppression has become a reality for too many LGBT youths and adults and Fair Fight was founded to organize collective efforts to expose, mitigate, and reverse voter suppression.


Older LGBT adults are twice as likely to be single and live along—so they need an advocate on their side.

SAGE supports and empowers older LGBTQ+ heroes and advocates who’ve fought for equality and gay rights for decades. This national advocacy and service organization helps older LGBT individuals navigate assisted living facilities, understand senior care, and find a supportive community. 

For more than 40 years, SAGE has worked to ensure that older LGBT people can age with respect and dignity through a network of caring activists that provide unwavering support, resources, and advocacy. 

Ali Forney Center

The Ali Forney Center protects homeless Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning youths and provides them with the tools they need to be independent. 28% of LGBTQ youth reported experiencing homelessness or housing instability at some point in their lives, and with the help of the Ali Forney Center, LGBT youth have a safe place to grow.

The Ali Forney Center is a 24-hour program, meaning its doors never close. Aside from providing food and shelter, the organization offers transitional housing and job readiness training to provide a supportive environment for LGBT youth escaping the streets.

Think Local

A powerful way to invest in your community is by donating and volunteering with local organizations. No one knows what your community could benefit from better than you, so take a look at some of the non-profits in your neighborhood that align with your values. If you need some help finding LGBT organizations in your area, reach out to our team.

What workplace equity looks like for LGBTQ and other communities.

It wasn’t too long ago that homosexuality was considered a mental disorder. Since that idea was disproven in 1973, there’s been significant progress toward LGBTQ workplace equality, but there are still millions who fear that who they are could put their job at risk.

Workplace equity can help employees and employers alike. Workplaces that value diversity and inclusion brood success by attracting top talent and increasing employee satisfaction, boosting performance and favorable outcomes. 

It’s 2022—employers can do better for their employees with inclusive policies, equal benefits, and promoting a culture of inclusion. Let’s take a closer look at what equality in the workplace means and how employers can lead the way for a more inclusive tomorrow.

What is equality in the workplace?

Equality in the workplace means that every employee is treated fairly regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. At its most basic form, equality in the workplace means that employees cannot be discriminated against.

Why is workplace equity for LGBTQ and other communities so important? Because 38%1 of transgender and non-binary employees are either unsure of their employer’s support or stated that their employer was trans-unsupportive. This number is far too high and shows that workplace equality and inclusion still has a long way to go.

Your employees should feel like they are on a team where everyone belongs, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Celebrating Pride is a good start, but it’s not enough.

Achieving equality in the workplace is more than simply waving a rainbow flag during the month of June. Companies need to go beyond these public gestures of support.

According to Community Marketing & Insights (CMI), 87%1 of respondents believe that if a company openly supports LGBTQ equality legislation, it shows that they strongly support the LGBTQ community.

“Sponsoring and supporting Pride is a strong building block to a greater inclusion strategy. Corporate accountability can’t start and end in June. Workplace inclusion is 24/7, 365 days per year” – Benjamin Jenkins, National LGBT Media Association

Your leadership team should connect with marketing and communication departments about promoting inclusive marketing year-round. Supporting Pride month is a start to an inclusive marketing strategy, but don’t forget about the 11 other months of the year!

We’ve made progress, but there’s still more work to do.

81% of LGBTQ community members feel that their employer is LGBTQ friendly and supportive. Such a high percentage sparks hope that workplace equity is heading in the right direction, but employers can do more. Here are 4 ways employers can take action to create an inclusive workplace: 

1. Update your policies

When it comes to workplace equity, start with the basics. Review and update your harassment, bullying, and discrimination policies to ensure that LGBTQ individuals are included. Expand your anti-discrimination policy to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity and clearly define what discrimination and harassment look like.

Discrimination and harassment can be anything from making sexist comments to gossiping over the water cooler to deliberately overlooking an employee based on a certain characteristic.

2. Talk about pronouns

Pronouns are incredibly important when it comes to inclusion in the workplace, they can also be intimidating. For decades gender identities and expressions weren’t something employees had to think twice about. Binary pronouns, she/her/hers and he/him/his, were the only options to choose from.

But while some employees identify on a binary scale, others do not. Employees who are gender fluid or non-binary don’t self-identify as male or female and may prefer the pronouns they/them/theirs. And while that may shock the gender norm, everyone deserves to have their pronouns respected in the workplace.

3. Adjust recruitment processes

Workplace inclusion and diversity is imperative during recruitment. You want to attract potential candidates who can uphold your company’s values. 

Make it clear in the job descriptions that everyone is welcome, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation. Don’t forget to use gender-neutral language in job descriptions and other communications as well! You can also advertise your organization and any job openings in LGBTQ+ media to both extend your reach and showcase your allyship. 

4. Train your staff and set expectations

Communicate policy changes to your entire staff and make sure they understand that discrimination in any form will not be tolerated. 

Training sessions are crucial and should focus on company values and real-life scenarios so your employees fully understand what behaviors are acceptable and which are not. Employers should discuss the importance of pronouns and gender-neutral language, how employees can be an ally to the LGBTQ community, and how to report any incidences of discrimination.

Company training sessions may not be the most fun activity for your employees, but it helps create a company culture that is rooted in inclusion, respect, and integrity.

Remember that an inclusive workplace isn’t about agreeing with everybody on everything. It’s about respecting the people around you.

Top 5 Takeaways from the 16th Annual LGBTQ Community Survey

Community Marketing & Insights (CMI) has been conducting LGBTQ community research since 1992. In their 16th Annual LGBTQ Community Survey, they reached out to over fourteen thousand individuals across the U.S. and Canada.

Through online surveys, in-depth interviews, on-site and virtual focus groups, LGBTQ recruitment assistance programs, and more, we’ve been able to gain a deeper understanding of the queer community. Here are five key takeaways from the 16th Annual LGBTQ Community Survey that every brand or business should keep in mind!

1. Consumers care about corporate involvement in the LGBTQ community

Consumers are paying more attention than ever to how brands and corporations are supporting the LGBTQ movement. In fact, 71% of LGBTQ people stated that they are more likely to purchase from a company that outreaches and advertises to the LGBTQ community. 

CMI asked a recall question about brands that show genuine, authentic support of the LGBTQ community through their outreach or pro-LGBTQ policies or practices. The result? The majority had brand recall for corporations like Subaru, Apple, and Target. But these businesses weren’t chosen simply for their inclusive advertising and marketing campaigns—it goes deeper than that.

2. Supporting the LGBTQ+ community is more than signing a check

While we’ve already started to see the shift toward public corporate support, consumers are more interested in what their internal policies and methodologies look like. Do they truly support diversity and inclusion, and if so, are they willing to speak out against anti-LGBTQ policies and legislation? 

Between 97-99% of LGBTQ people said that companies who openly support LGBTQ equality legislation, actively support their LGBTQ employees, and speak out against discrimination of transgender/nonbinary community members are demonstrating true LGBTQ activism.

3. Non-binary and transgender community members have concerns regarding their health coverage

On the topic of LGBTQ policy and legislation, one of the key areas of concern is inclusive health care coverage including health insurance, prepaid health plans, HMOs, or government plans such as Medicare, or Indian Health Service. While 93% of LGBTQ people surveyed said they have health care coverage, 48% reported some concern about losing that coverage. Unfortunately, that concern is highest among transgender and non-binary community members. 

As a corporation, it’s important to be knowledgeable of the pressing concerns of the LGBTQ community. This not only allows businesses to gain a better understanding of what their target audience cares most about, but also helps them make informed decisions about where to put their resources so they have the biggest impact.

4. LGBTQ consumers have financial confidence

The LGBTQ+ community has incredible spending power—over 1.7 trillion and growing at its fastest rate ever. When CMI asked the LGBTQ community about their current financial and economic confidence, 32% stated that they were better off than the year prior. While 36% stated that they’re on course to be better off next year. 

5. LGBTQ members are BIG spenders—electronics, travel, large purchases

The 16th Annual LGBTQ Community Survey asked thousands of participants to share how they’ve been spending and investing their income in the past 12 months. Here’s what was discovered:

  • 82% of LGBTQ participants have streaming television subscriptions (e.g. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu)
  • 73% shared that they have had alcoholic beverages (69% wine, 58% beer, 42% vodka, 36% whiskey)
  • 38% consume cannabis for recreational or medical purposes
  • 31% stated that they purchased over $500 worth of clothing and 29% purchased $500 worth of new furniture
  • 50% plan to purchase plane tickets for their next vacation and 54% plan to stay at a hotel during their next trip

Build a more inclusive future

Needless to say, companies that lay a strong foundation now are building genuine, lasting relationships that will pay dividends as the community continues to grow. Embrace diversity and inclusivity by reaching a rapidly growing, fiercely loyal, and high discretionary income market, all with the confidence of having a certified partner by your side. Get to know your new audience, download The Ultimate Business Case for LGBTQ Marketing to learn more.

5 Best Practices for your LGBTQ+ Marketing Campaign

The LGBTQ community is said to be the 10th largest economy in the world, making them a bigger economy than Australia, Canada, and South Korea combined! With such a large presence, brands and businesses alike are focusing their marketing and advertising efforts on reaching this unique market. However, there’s a right way and wrong way to advertise to the average LGBTQ consumer. Here are 5 things to keep in mind when planning your next LGBTQ marketing campaign.

1. Reflect on your intentions

Before starting your next campaign, consider these questions:

  • Why am I doing this?
  • Who am I doing this for?
  • How is this initiative going to serve this community?

Recently, we’ve seen a huge cultural shift driven around inclusivity and diversity, which has had a big impact on businesses both internally and through external branding efforts. In order to embrace and authentically capture this unique community, you need to specifically create an LGBTQ-driven marketing and advertising strategy.  To start this, you need to ask the key questions above to make sure that what you’re advertising to this community is informative, knowledgeable, and influencing conversations. Your return on investment should come secondary to these bigger initiatives.

2. Ensure representation both on and off the screen

Diversity and inclusion are essential building blocks for any marketing campaign, but that all starts from who is in the decision room. Your company must have policies in place to encourage and support diversity, inclusion, and equal representation before you start marketing with these same ideals.  There’s a saying that goes, “If you can’t talk the talk, don’t walk the walk.” 

“If a company that notoriously has terrible discriminatory policies and practices toward the community and no benefits and tries to advertise or get involved in any way they are going to be met with skepticism until they prove otherwise.  Unless you’re getting yourself together on the back end all of the money in the world you spend on advertising is completely wasted.” – Jenn Grace, LGBTQ business strategist at Jenn T. Grace International

What does a diverse and inclusive company really look like? Diversity in the workplace means having a workforce built with people from different backgrounds, genders, cultures, socioeconomic statuses — and beyond. It also means that the company or organization has built in core values that foster a sense of belonging and respect for one another.

What might this look like in a marketing campaign? Marketing and advertising is not only about selling a product or service, it’s about how you choose to show the values, mission and brand of your organization. A company that is values diversity and wants to drive that same message in their outward marketing initiatives would start by showing people of all representations — LGBTQ individuals, family members, friends and couples of varied ages, races, sexual orientations, and genders, etc. 

3. Choose the right language

It’s easy to fall into stereotypes and cliches, especially if you don’t have the right representation on your marketing team to help add some perspective. It’s important to do your due diligence with market research to make sure your campaign is truly inclusive and on trend with the LGBTQ community. In the 2022 CMI LGBTQ Community Survey, over 14,000 LGBTQ people were asked questions around their prefered terminology. Broken out by gender and age, this is just one example of why it’s crucial to know your niche audience and consider their preferences. The results of the CMI Survey? It was found that LGBTQ and LGBTQ+ are virtually tied as preferred terms, but the shift to LGBTQ+ is on the rise.

4. Don’t market to the moment, join the movement

Companies that welcome employees of all identities, preferences and backgrounds, and continuously stand behind them, are not only helping the company culture but also the LGBTQ community at large. More and more companies are speaking up on public policy impacting the LGBTQ community. While this can put their brands and investors on the line, LGBTQ consumers are looking to support businesses that go beyond marketing and truly lobby for change.

5. Partner with LGBTQ+ organizations and influencers

We all know the value of partnering with other notable brands – together the companies can piggyback off of their reputations and reach each other’s audience, all while spreading their message. Similar to this, companies that seek to market to the LGBTQ community need to consider building meaningful partnerships with LGBTQ creators and brands. 

Expand your current customer base with the right messaging. Partner with trusted organizations. Reach a loyal customer base. Expand your overall reach and drive better results. Companies and organizations alike can partner with the National LGBT Media Association to ensure that marketers have the right message that will resonate and convert for the LGBTQ audience. Interested in learning more? Let’s chat!

Get Out! LGBTQ travelers show how to travel safely this fall

By Ed Salvato

Just when we thought it was safe to hit the road, we were walloped by the Delta variant, the latest plot twist in the 18-month-and-counting pandemic story. The surprising data that fully vaccinated people could transmit the virus came shockingly from Provincetown with a 90% vaccination rate. Ptown quickly tightened restrictions requiring masking at all indoor locations and proof of vaccine at all entertainment venues — interventions that worked. As of press time, the positivity rate there is much lower than much of the rest of the U.S. and it remains one of our top recommendations this fall and beyond. Ptown demonstrated a successful response — stressing safety yet continuing to deliver a deeply satisfying experience.

Read on for our favorite queer-friendly destinations striving to create a safe space for you and strategies for navigating the increasingly complex world of pandemic travel. Safe, beautiful and fun LGBTQ-friendly destinations, experiences and accommodations beckon whether you seek to recharge your batteries, deplete them or a little of both. 

Queer and safe destinations

  • Provincetown, Massachusetts is our very own home beyond the rainbow as suggested by this year’s Carnival theme. Book far ahead for popular weeks (July 4; Bear Week; and Carnival) but we recommend visiting outside of the most popular times for a less frantic more enjoyable stay. There are diverse LGBTQ-oriented events almost every weekend through New Year’s. Eve Information: Provincetown Business Guild https://ptown.org/ and Provincetown for Women https://www.provincetownforwomen.com/
  • Fort Lauderdale and Miami remain the beating heart of LGBTQ-friendly Florida despite the barbaric state-level response causing the Sunshine State to be among the worst-hit in the U.S. by the pandemic. Fort Lauderdale has been world-renowned for its authentic and inclusive vibe for all visitors since 1996. Over 1,000 local businesses have taken the Safe & Clean Pledge https://www.sunny.org/travel-resources/safe-clean-pledge/. Likewise, Miami has implemented the Greater Miami Travel Guidelines and Destination Pledge accessible from the destination’s homepage https://www.miamiandbeaches.com/travelguidelines, outlining how safety measures are being implemented throughout the community.
  • Puerto Rico is the undisputed LGBTQ capital of the Caribbean enticing visitors with reliably warm, sunny weather and a sincere outreach to queer travelers. Despite unfortunate, highly publicized attacks on local transgender people, Puerto Rico boasts a visible and vibrant trans community, and nightlife options that specifically cater to queer and non-binary folx. This helps create a safer and more comfortable environment than other warm-weather destinations in the Caribbean or Mexico, which lack venues for a trans community that mostly lives in hiding. Information: Discover Puerto Rico. https://www.discoverpuertorico.com/things-to-do/lgbtq-travel
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania makes for a fun urban weekend getaway. Once the kids are back in school and the lines at the Liberty Bell disappear, you’ll find a warm, walkable and LGBTQ-welcoming city. Find LGBTQ restaurants, safe nightlife, engaging events and recommendations galore at Visit Philly https://www.visitphilly.com/lgbt/. Pro tip: Try to schedule a half day at the Barnes Foundation https://www.barnesfoundation.org/ art collection. 
  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Wait, what? Yep, this charming Midwestern town is our top unexpected recommendation. You’ll find historic cultural venues, a walkable entertainment district with plenty of topnotch live music and theatrical performances, a delectable culinary scene and a truly warm welcome. Find trip-planning recommendations at the destination’s website. https://www.tourismcedarrapids.com/lgbtq/

Queer cruises and land vacations

Cruises are coming back, and it may be surprising to hear that they are probably the safest vacation you can take. According to Randle Roper, CEO at VACAYA, an LGBT+ vacation company, “[w]ith cruise lines soon to mandate that all guests and crew members must be vaccinated, cruise ships will be among the very safest locations on the planet – with the entire population vaccinated. Making sensible choices like masking and social distancing while ashore, cruisers can avoid infection altogether.” Resort vacations are also safe with similar universal vaccinations and plenty of room for guests to spread out. Remember with no children during LGBTQ weeks at mainstream resorts, they offer much more space per adult guest. VACAYA’s big 2021 fall events include their all-inclusive Mexico Resort vacation (Oct 30-Nov 6) and their New Orleans Cruise (Nov 14-22). In 2022, there are only two trips that still have rooms available as of press time: their Caribbean Cruise (Jan 10-17) and their all-inclusive Costa Rica Resort (Jun 5-12). Information and booking at MyVACAYA. https://www.myvacaya.com/ 

Not only will queer tour companies get you there and back safely, but “they also can ensure your money is being spent with other welcoming, progressive and even queer business and individuals around the world,” according to Robert Sharp, founder of Out Adventures. https://www.outadventures.com/ “This is even more important,” he continues, “when planning travel to countries that are known to be less than queer welcoming.” Visit their site to read about their New Year’s Eve trips to Thailand and Cuba and in 2022, their Iceland Winter trip, and four back-to-back Croatia small group cruises, which are starting to sell out.

R Family Vacations is one of our top recommendations for planning an incredibly fun and satisfying tour or cruise (big ship and river cruises) in the company of other queer travelers and allies. You don’t even have to have children to join their trips. In 2022, R Family offers land tours in Thailand and Ireland; an LGBTQ group on board a cruise in Alaska; and a magical all-queer full-ship-charter Uniworld river cruise in Northern Italy among other trips. Information: R Family Vacation. https://www.rfamilyvacations.com/

Expert LGBTQ travel advisors are standing by to help you. And they’re free!

Even in this uncertain time, you can enjoy enriching and joyful travel opportunities in LGBTQ-friendly environments in a way that maximizes safety and minimizes risk. You just have to plan a little more. We highly recommend using an LGBTQ expert travel advisor who keeps up to date on LGBTQ-friendly tour, cruise and safari providers, as well as destinations and hotels and who understand innately the needs and concerns of LGBTQ travelers. They dedicate themselves to both LGBTQ travel safety and keeping up with the latest, ever-shifting pandemic-era guidance, health protocols, openings, and closings. They know how to get the best value for your time and money, and, thanks to their global connections, they can often score VIP upgrades for you at hotels, on cruise lines, on tours, and more. They are also your most important advocate when trips are cancelled or rescheduled. Best of all clients use travel advisors, like our top picks here, for no additional fees:

Choose LGBTQ-welcoming accommodations

We’ve heard far too many stories of queer guests receiving a frosty welcome (or worse) when checking into a hotel or AirBnB. These are our top choices for LGBTQ-friendly resources for accommodations where you can truly relax and be your authentic selves:

About Ed Salvato
NYC-based Ed Salvato is a freelance travel writer, instructor at NYU and the University of Texas at Austin’s NYC Center, and an LGBTQ tourism marketing consultant.

Southern Spirit: A Very Queer Vacay In Historic Savannah

By Lawrence Ferber

The ghost of Kevin Spacey haunts this room. 

Actually, it’s the ghost of a rich, gay antiques dealer and preservationist, Jim Williams, whom Spacey portrayed in the 1997 film “Midnight In the Garden of Good And Evil,” although the latter seems somehow more likely to impart chills and cringe these days. I’m touring the Mercer-Williams House, one of Savannah, Georgia’s most famous 19th-century homes, including the actual study where Williams shot and killed his hustler boy toy, Danny Hansford (played by Jude Law in the movie, and I’m sure many queens would welcome his spectre), reportedly in self-defense.

Adapted from gay author John Berendt’s bestselling 1994 nonfiction novel, director Clint Eastwood’s movie shined a Hollywood spotlight on Savannah and its quirky denizens, including iconic transgender entertainer The Lady Chablis, who famously played herself, regularly performed at LGBTQ bar Club One and, sadly, passed away in 2016, which helped attract even more millions of tourists annually. In 2019, 14.8 million visitors came for Savannah’s mix of historic architecture, gorgeous willow-draped parks, movie locations (including the spot where Forrest Gump sat on a bench babbling inane philosophies about chocolates), a buzzing riverside entertainment zone and live-and-let-live genteel Southern attitude. Bless their hearts!

Today the lush, compact and walkable port city, hometown of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season 8 queen Dax ExclamationPoint and Georgia Democrat Senator Raphael Warnock, boasts an even more progressive open queerness. There’s Halloween weekend’s vibrant Savannah Pride, the hipster Starland District, an influx of creative young energy thanks to Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD for short — fashion icon André Leon Talley sits on its Board of Trustees) and, this being one of America’s most haunted cities, an expanding population of spirits (including the drinkable type at Ghost Coast Distillery). 

Ultimately, Mercer House — once owned by the family of another iconic homegrown talent, prolific songwriter Johnny Mercer of Oscar-winning “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” ditty “Moon River” and Elvis’ “Fools Rush In” fame — proved an illuminating experience replete with photos of Williams and his parties, original antiques, paintings and furniture, especially for fans of the film and book. But the upper floor, where Williams’ sister still lives, and its working pipe organ remain off limits.


Many tourists stay around the tourist-heavy, shop-lined River Street, newly developed Plant Riverside district, and adjacent downtown, which all form Savannah’s equivalent of NOLA’s French Quarter and an active port where cargo ships routinely zip past along the city’s namesake river and hotels include an Andaz and new 416-room JW Marriott. However, my husband Matt and I opted for the neighboring, slightly inland Historic District. Its Perry Lane Hotel, which splits 167 rooms between two buildings and boasts a cheeky, upscale camp aesthetic in design, decor and property-wide collection of contemporary art, proved perfect and more chill. Just two blocks from Chippewa Square (site of the Gump bench, a temporary prop), there’s also a rooftop bar and pool where local queers regularly congregate for the gorgeous views and a kiki… but not so much for the pedestrian cocktails, one noted. “Nobody goes there for the drinks!” However, if you prefer gay B&Bs that capture the city’s historic flavor, and are allegedly haunted to boot, there’s the Foley House Inn


To get one’s bearings in Savannah, a tour is well-advised, and there are dozens listed on official tourism website Visit Savannah, from trolley to bicycle to themed walking tours. The latter include Black heritage, food, local indie boutique shopping, ghost/haunted (I’ll get to that later!), and openly gay guide Jonathan Stalcup’s engaging Architectural Tours of Savannah, which we joined and enjoyed. Stalcup juxtaposes structures and stories with photos of Savannah’s evolving cityscape since its founding in the 1730s by General James Oglethorpe and, as it turns out, some sassy queer facts if you take him aside post-tour. 

Many essential attractions are historic, educational and kid-friendly in nature, including the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters, Bonaventure Cemetery, and 100-plus-year-old Leopold’s Ice Cream, which draws snaking, hours-long lines of tourists daily for old-timey frozen treats. It honestly isn’t worth hours-long waits unless you’re the 8-year-old with extremely limited travel and life experience who loudly declared “This is the best ice cream I ever ate!” as I consumed a sundae and rolled my eyes so far back the time traveled to 2015 (pro tip: there are two satellite Leopold’s locations at the airport with little to no wait). Yet some of Savannah’s most intriguing musts are surprisingly modern and edgy. 

Incorporating an antebellum railroad depot in its design, the contemporary SCAD Museum of Art hosts multidisciplinary, provocative exhibitions by international talents like queer French artist Mehryl Levisse, whose immersive “White Wig,” featuring five sculpted wigs by Parisian drag queens, will be on display through December 12, 2021. Artwork and home goods by SCAD’s own faculty, students and alumni, plus books, accessories and more, fill out sister retail space shopSCAD

Only open Thursday through Sundays, Graveface Museum is destination-worthy for those obsessed with serial killers, cults, sideshows and pinball machines, with a permament collection of artifacts related to the above, including a pair of underwear worn by lesbian serial killer Aileen Wuornos and artwork by John Wayne Gacy (shockingly, John Waters hasn’t been by yet!), plus a horror-movie-themed arcade and shop. 

And Chocolat by Adam Turoni is one of Savannah’s retail musts. A queer chocolatier who channels Southern culture and flavors through his sophisticated, high-quality, artful creations, Turoni’s Historic District Bull Street boutique is designed like a home library, its shelves displaying trays of Red Velvet, Mint Julep and Georgia Peach truffles plus gold-dusted honeycomb bars and much more. To the rear, a glass-enclosed kitchen provides views of chocolate-making in action, while Turoni himself often works the register and can be chatted up. Another Chocolat location, on Broughton Street, is dubbed the “Dining Room,” while a third can be found in nearby Charleston, South Carolina (there’s a lot of brand crossover between the two sibling-esque destinations, including Savannah Bee Company, Byrd’s Famous Cookies and the trailblazing Husk restaurant). Private chocolate-making classes with Turoni can also be arranged via the Perry Lane Hotel.


Being a coffee snob and caffeine junkie, a priority was finding Savannah’s best cold brew. Conveniently, a branch of popular local cafe Franklin’s was a few blocks from my hotel offering a solid cold brew and yummy pastries. Downtown’s queer-owned Blends roasts its own beans, as does Perc, whose owner Philip Brown, a hipster-bear literal daddy, staffs his flagship warehouse-cafe with LGBTQs and is himself the proud father of a trans child. Perc also sells a killer dehydrated instant version, plus excellent bagged beans (Perc expanded to Atlanta in 2020 and opened its second location there in 2021, so this could well become the Southeast’s Stumptown!).

Hungry, we had our first breakfast at local and tourist fave B. Matthews, where reservations are highly recommended during peak hours. Passing numerous rainbow flags, I noticed its listing as both “LGBTQ friendly” and a “transgender safe space” on Google Maps, while the lowcountry Southern-tinged food was excellent. I savored a cheesy, decadent shrimp and grits bowl I would happily return for, plus fried green tomatoes. Another brekkie-must with outdoor seating to boot, The Collins Quarter serves brunch daily and its “Swine Time Beni” — bacon and hollandaise-topped poached eggs over pulled pork and French toast — is bar none the most decadent, heart-clogging eggs Benedict iteration I’ve encountered. And if you’re hungry and hunty, once a month the Moon River Brewing Company and Club One collaborate for a family-friendly Sunday drag brunch

Savannah has upped its culinary game substantially in recent years with enterprising young chefs bringing color, presentation and locavore ethos to plates. As a foodie I was psyched to try Husk, and while the interior design proved stunning, drinks lovely, and a bonus to be greeted by a seemingly nonbinary host, the food was hit-and-miss (my boneless heirloom pork entree was shockingly tough, but its side dishes sublime and brightly flavored). 

Happily, 2021 arrival Common Thread and Savannah native Zach Shultz’s Cotton & Rye proved high points, with outstanding, fresh, memorable cuisine; request a table with view of the kitchen at the former, and do not sit outdoors during summertime at the latter lest you risk being tormented by hangry flies while eating. As for supporting LGBTQ-owned restaurants, the traditional French Circa 1875 and Italian La Scala Ristorante are the work of gay couple Jeffrey Downey and Donald Lubowicki.


If you’re a natural at networking, befriending queer locals is well-advised, since even before COVID hit private house parties became Savannah’s dominant form of local socializing and nightlife for LGBTQs (Grindr and Scruff, we’re giving you stink eye). Only one LGBTQ+ bar, the multi-level dancing and drag queen destination Club One, still stands — there are 18+ nights, a plus for SCAD students — since the delightfully divey Chuck’s Bar closed in 2019. 

As with many cities, drag shows have become a magnet for godforsaken decidedly un-gay bachelorette parties and rowdy (albeit ally-ish) heterosexuals. This certainly proved true with Savannah’s Yes Queen! Pub Crawl. My hubby and I were the sole queers participating besides the delightful Venezuela-born queen and aspiring fashion designer leading the tour, Marie Con, and her lowkey boyfriend. It basically entailed Marie creating a loud public spectacle while we searched for her fictitious sugar daddy, Richard, aka “Dick”; stopped at non-gay bars for drink specials; and, at her insistence, grabbed each other’s butts to form human centipedes while crossing the street. It was a bit #MeToo and I really wished #TimesUp, but I did cull valuable intel from Marie about the scene and local drag collective, House of Gunt, before fleeing early. 

We didn’t flee early from another popular and quintessential Savannah after-dark activity: a ghost tour. Although hoping for the guide known as “Prince,” who styles himself like the iconic late musician, our adults-only Sixth Sense haunted tour was led by the black-clad “Lady Ravenwood,” whose ensemble included an LGBTQ+ rainbow and a shiny pair of steampunk glasses (not sure how steampunk figures in here, but OK). 

Being a skeptical Scully to my hubby’s I-want-to-believe Mulder, I rolled my eyes as Ravenwood told us of murder victim ghosts and flashed images of blue orbs hovering on her phone, and I begged for a spirit or demon to attach itself to us to spice things up (“Burn sage!” my hubby’s fellow true believer friend texted in a panic). Alas, no blue orbs or demons followed us home, but darned if glowing happy memories of Savannah don’t frequently haunt and beckon us back.

NY-raised entertainment and travel journalist Lawrence Ferber has contributed to publications including Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine, National Geographic Traveler, The Advocate, NewNowNext, The NY Post and TripSavvy. He also co-wrote/co-created the 2010 gay romcom “BearCity” and authored its 2013 novelization. Photos courtesy of Visit Savannah. 

The LGBTQ+ Generational Wealth Gap

By Finbarr Toesland

It’s no secret that LGBTQ+ people face a range of financial challenges that heterosexual people simply don’t need to contend with. Less discussed are the effects of financial discrimination on building LGBTQ+ generational wealth. The stereotypical view of a wealthy gay couple with no children and a sizable disposable income is just that — a stereotype. 

In reality, the “American Dream”— buying a home, getting married, having kids, finding a good job and investing in a 401(k) — is out of reach for many LGBTQ+ people, according to a survey by TD Ameritrade. Almost two thirds (35 percent) of LGBTQ+ millennials say they are unlikely to achieve these goals by age 40, compared to fewer than half of straight millennials. The same survey found that while the average annual income for a straight household is $79,400, the average LGBTQ+ household earns just $66,200 a year.

LGBTQ+ people are being left out of generational wealth for many reasons including family rejection, systematic barriers and a lack of financial education. With almost half of LGBTQ+ adults saying they have been excluded by a family member or close friend as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity, according to a study by the Pew Research Center, a lack of familial financial support is a common problem for many in the community. 

This combination of unique financial barriers that LGBTQ+ people face is what has led to generational wealth gap. It’s a problem that will only affect more queer people if we don’t address it now. 

Legacy financial exclusion

At every stage of life, it’s not uncommon for LGBTQ+ people to encounter financial challenges that their heterosexual counterparts won’t face. Being kicked out of their homes as teens due to unaccepting parents, not receiving financial support from family for college, being removed from an inheritance — the financial cost of being LGBTQ+ can be substantial.

With the average inheritance reaching close to $177,000 according to a HSBC survey and Cerulli Associates forecasting that up to $68 trillion will trickle down to younger generations within 25 years, LGBTQ+ heirs could collectively lose trillions through inheritance exclusion. 

“Even much smaller amounts could help folks pay off debt, pay off a home, send their own kids to college and help them with their own retirement. Many LGBTQ+ kids aren’t getting these benefits,” explains John Auten-Schneider. Auten-Schneider is the co-owner of The Debt Free Guys blog and host of the Queer Money podcast, a leading gay money blog and podcast for the LGBTQ+ community run by him and his husband, David.

Raising a deposit for a house or apartment can be a difficult task for all people, but without financial support from family, many would not be able to fund a deposit. When David’s parents pass away, David’s sister will likely be inheriting upwards of $1,000,000. Yet, David says, he won’t receive any of this money, solely because he’s gay. “His parents have every right to do with their money what they want, but it’s a particular disappointment that they’ll do this only because he’s gay. This, of course, means we need to plan differently for our retirement than his sister does,” explains John. 

Just because David and John are LGBTQ+ financial experts doesn’t mean they don’t deal with many of the same systematic challenges that impact other members of the community. Younger LGBTQ+ people also face challenges directly related to their sexuality or gender identity.

A disproportionately high number of young people experiencing homelessness identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community. According to research from the Williams Institute, between 20 percent and 45 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+. Lacking access to basic housing or financial support from family can set up a young person up for economic disadvantage before they even graduate from high school.

LGBTQ+ students also shoulder a larger student debt burden than their straight peers to the tune of an extra $16,000. “This has been attributed, in part, to LGBTQ+ college students assuming more debt simply to leave hostile home lives. In some cases, parents may forgo helping their queer children in favor of helping their straight children,” explains John.

Knowledge is power

At the start of 2020, Michigan-based Lexa VanDamme was at her financial rock bottom. Stuck at work after a 70-plus hour work week with no money in her bank account, bills due the next day and a broken down car, she decided to make a change. “I realized that I needed to face my financial situation,” says VanDamme. “I dove deep into the online world of personal finance to learn about budgeting, debt payoff methods, saving and investing.”

After her crash course in finance, VanDamme refinanced her credit card debt into a lower-rate personal loan, created a workable budget and started a side hustle to make extra income. There were a few bumps on her journey: “I actually cycled back into credit card debt three different times. I would pay it off, then eventually max it out a few months later,” says VanDamme. Still, she managed to pay off her debt by following the financial rules she had set for herself.

While trying to learn about personal finance on her own, VanDamme realized there was a need for accessible and relatable content that appealed to a wide range of people. She decided to create The Avocado Toast Budget (The ATB). Starting out as a blog just over a year ago, The ATB now counts more than 400,000 followers on Tiktok.

“For the longest time, the loudest voices in the personal finance community were cis, straight white males and, as a queer woman, I wanted to share information and tips that were often overlooked by those creators,” says VanDamme.

For many LGBTQ+ people like VanDamme, after spending so long hiding who she really was, she wanted to live as true to herself and be as free as possible. “This led to me ignoring my spending habits and being stuck in the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. Airing my financial dirty laundry brought up similar feelings of anxiety and concern I felt when first coming out. How would people react? What would they think?” says VanDamme.

There is already a heavy stigma around talking about personal finances, especially when you may be struggling financially. “Since queer people often spend our lives fighting for the world to accept us and our queerness, we may be less apt to talk about our financial insecurities and struggles,” says VanDamme.

Genuine representation goes beyond just diversifying the financial content creators who receive media platforms, with the advice given by these experts also needing to be fully inclusive. “Advice tended to ignore how systems of oppression affect people of color, women, the LGBTQ+ community and more. We know statistically that it’s easier for some to build wealth than others,” she adds.

VanDamme has an ongoing series on Instagram focused on the intersectional nature of many financial issues. The series helps shed some light on the economic realities that often contributes to minority community challenges. From financial inequality that disproportionately impacts disabled people to wealth inequity and racism and the cycle of poverty, VanDamme works to educate her audience on pressing topics that matter to them.

“It’s especially important to talk about the financial challenges that trans people in our community face. This includes increased reports of lower wages, limited and more expensive housing options, and twice the rate of unemployment. This heavily impacts their ability to build wealth,” she explains.

Intersectional challenges

While being LGBTQ+ can underpin unique money issues, queer people of color and queer women often experience additional difficulties around financial matters.

In addition to the financial barriers faced by LGBTQ+ people, queer people of color also face a racial wealth gap. Employment discrimination, systematic inequalities and disparities in financial education all contribute to this unequal financial playing field.

According to research from the Federal Reserve, the average white family’s wealth is eight times higher than the wealth of an average Black family. The gender pay gap also contributes to excluding women from building generational wealth, according to the latest statistics compiled by Pew Research, which show that women earned 84 percent of what men earned in 2020.

Carmen Perez, creator of Make Real Cents, a personal finance blog dedicated to helping people achieve financial independence, believes it’s important to have experts who are more representative of the people they’re speaking to. “I heard a quote a while ago: ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’ I think that’s really important because eventually, if you don’t have a model to follow, either you have to be the first, or it’s never going to happen,” she says.

As a woman of color and a lesbian, Perez knows firsthand how important it is to address the absence of representation in financial education. “It’s definitely one of the things we have to step back and look at in the LGBT community,” says Perez. “There’s a compounding effect because not only am I part of the LGBT community as a lesbian, but I’m also a minority, and I’m also a woman, and there’s a lot of hurdles up against a lot of folks in this space,” she adds.

With more than 60,000 people following her Make Real Cents account, Perez is playing a part in democratizing access to finance. There, she does everything from break down the cost of credit to explain 401(k) company matches with easy-to-read graphics and Insta stories. Her methods are a world away from the complexity of some traditional financial advisors and tools.  

“Millennials are starting to change the money game because we’re delivering advice in a way that isn’t super technical. It can be so overwhelming to watch CNBC with all these screens and tickers that don’t mean anything to you personally,” says Perez.

Increased representation in the finance space means a light can be shone on vital issues, resulting in deeper conversations that make money less taboo. “We’re finding instances where historically people who have been locked out of the finance industry, by design, are speaking up. Unlike some traditional financial advisors that give out all this jargon and talk in all these terms that many may not understand,” says Perez.

Future generations

Despite the long-standing barriers facing LGBTQ+ people in gaining access to financial education and financial services, LGBTQ+ personal finance content creators now offer a way for many to improve their financial literacy in more convenient ways than ever before. While investing early and regularly is one of the most effective ways to secure a financially comfortable retirement, it’s never too late to build wealth and support for the next generation of LGBTQ+ people.

“[You can] create legacy wealth within the LGBTQ+ community by setting up your estate plan to donate to LGBTQ+ causes that will help homeless youth and [by] giving to local, younger LGBTQ+ folks you know personally,” adds John.

Negotiating the LGBTQ+ generational wealth gap is no small feat. But continuing the discussion around both financial literacy and taking steps to combat systematic financial issues can go a long way to address the financial challenges impacting the LGBTQ+ community.

“The stronger we are as LGBTQ+ individuals and allies, including our financial strength, the stronger we are as a community,” concludes John.

Finbarr Toesland is an award-winning journalist committed to illuminating vital LGBTQ+ stories and underreported issues. His journalism has been published by NBC News, BBC, Reuters, VICE, HuffPost, and The Telegraph.