It’s 2022 and everything’s just fine and dandy in the queer world, isn’t it? We members of the so-called ‘alphabet mafia’ have it made. Except we don’t.

The UK’s dragging its heels on trans rights; LGBTQ+ hate crime is on the rise and if we find ourselves somewhere new, or outside the confines of the gay village, we still do a quick safety scan before showing our partners even a modicum of public affection.

Pride is an integral part of LGBTQ+ life and now sweeps through June astride a rainbow flag-waving unicorn. It began post-Stonewall but like much of our history, the stories surrounding it are largely unwritten. Love letters destroyed for fear of discovery; lifelong lovers described as friends or never even acknowledged; pioneers and legends written out of existence – leaving us to piece together positives from the past out of the fragments that remain.

We celebrate these glimmers with renewed vigour each year, diving deep into LGBTQ+ history and sharing stories within our community. But where do brands sit in all of this? How can organisations even begin to share this space without being glib, or shamefully centring themselves rather than the community?

You can understand why many LGBTQ+ community members are reticent to welcome corporate involvement in Pride.

Many of us are old enough to remember when a majority of brands considered us beyond reproach. Association with our community was toxic. CEOs lost jobs, mortgage brokers refused to lend, HIV+ people denied basic rights.

It doesn’t mean brands aren’t welcome. Far from it. But just remember – as allies, you’re a guest in our spaces, and your deeds count far more than your words.

Some brands – Barefoot, Absolut and many more – have been a part of our community since before it was cool. Others splash the rainbow flag across their logo during Pride month while still donating to anti-LGBTQ causes.

Getting it right has never been more important. And if your intentions are genuine, transparent and more than just a brand tick-box exercise – you’re already on the right track.

Here are the questions you should be asking of your brand when it comes to making a  genuine connection with the LGBQT+ community. 

·         What are you doing outside of Pride to show your allyship? Pride is a month. LGBTQ+ History Month just 28 short days. Have you considered any authentic, ongoing ways to work with the community?

·         How are you supporting your LGBTQ+ employees internally? From reviewing your maternity/paternity/adoption leave policies to gender-neutral spaces or including pronouns in email signatures. Don’t rely on your employees, especially the more junior members, to give you all the answers. Do your homework. Make sure your LGBTQ+ staff are afforded the same rights and dignities as your straight and cisgendered staff wherever they live and work. Think too – how diverse is your workforce, and what support do you offer to underrepresented individuals to support their career progression?

·         What are you doing externally? Do you work with countries or companies that don’t provide the same protections, and if so, are you in a position to change that? This starts with the really simple things – are the cast represented in our external comms naturally diverse?

·         Are you planning on attending Pride? What are your reasons for going and can you make a difference, rather than just showing up? Could you partner with a local LGBTQ+ charity to elevate their work, while still not centring yourself in the narrative? Don’t worry. People will still see your logo and staff. Remember, work with them beyond this singular event for people to genuinely take notice.

No one has all the answers. No one organisation is getting everything right, so don’t be afraid to join the party.

Be brave and be involved. Through small changes, you can still make a positive change to your staff, consumers and the wider world.

This article was written by Nick Bain, a senior strategist at Sticky, a full-service strategic, creative agency for curious brands.