29 June 2022
This Pride Month, INCA had the unique opportunity to connect with some of our LGBTQ+ influencers across the US and UK. We’re celebrating this Pride Month with a very special iteration of ‘Conversations with Creators’ to learn from our talented and inspiring creators, first-hand, and understand what we, as an industry, can do to better support the queer community in the influencer marketing space.
Q1: Can you please share your experience of being an LGBTQ+ creator in the influencer industry?
Lyndsay: I have been a creator in this industry for over ten years now and I’m pleased to say it’s really changed in that time to become a more inclusive, diverse space. People are starting to become bolder, braver and celebrate each other for being authentically themselves, which is the way it should be. However, that is just the first step and I still think there is so much more work to be done.
Alicia: Being a disability creator that is also a part of the LGBTQ+ community has given me a unique opportunity to see all aspects of the influencer industry, both good and bad. I have witnessed brands that show their support, but only when eyes are on the community. I have found brands that actively look to support our community, but I have also had brands turn myself and other creators away from products for being a part of the LGBTQ+ community. It is experiences like those that fuel my fire to speak up for others and to choose to actively look for brands that are inclusive.
Gabi & Shanna: We absolutely love being LGBTQ+ creators in the influencer industry, it’s honestly our dream job! We are so passionate about what we do, and love being able to affect people’s everyday lives in a positive way! We also feel like we have had so many amazing experiences because of what we do and made so many amazing friends in our community from all around the world!
Q2: What inspired you to become a creator/influencer?
Ashley: I naturally fell into creating dance content on my socials as this is my professional job. Sometimes I feel like apps like TikTok were literally made for dancers and I feel so lucky I can express myself in such a fun way. As for being an LGBTQ+ creator, I’m starting to introduce my fiancé in more content and speak out about our experiences as a gay couple. For me, it’s all about raising awareness to help other generations feel that they are like other people they see online and TV.
Chris & Alex: Creativity has always been the driving force of our careers. We began our professional careers in television but became disenchanted by, ironically, the lack of individual creativity in our technical positions. We started our tandem ‘gram’ as a means of expressing ourselves in whatever way we saw fit. We were already acquainted with freelancing and being self-employed, so it just made sense!
The second reason behind starting our accounts together was for LGBTQ+ visibility and representation. Those around us always commented that they were inspired by our love story and our relationship gave them hope. We also wanted a way to share our travel experiences both as women and as queer individuals. To show others they could do it too. Travel is our largest shared passion, and we think it’s the key to dismantling prejudice and hate.
It wasn’t until we were already “in it” that we realized that how much impact our account could make. People would approach us by way of DM or the comment section saying that our representation was exactly what they needed to validate their own actions or identities. It was at that point we realized that we found our calling – to be the people we needed when we were younger. To be the visibility we wish we had growing up. And to use our sense of humor to make sensitive topics more approachable and to just gift others a laugh!
Q3: Do you think brands are doing enough to support LGBTQ+ creators in the influencer industry?
Lyndsay: Even though the industry as a whole is so much more diverse than a few years ago, I feel there is so much more brands could be doing to support LGBTQ+ creators.
Often brands will put a huge amount of emphasis on Pride Month which can seem almost opportunistic and inauthentic. Diversity, inclusion and representation should be all year round. Inclusivity needs to be an everyday thing and something we see across all of the brand’s content and the brands company values behind the scenes too.
Gabi & Shanna: In honesty no, we don’t think that brands are doing enough to support LGBTQ+ creators in the influencer industry. Something we definitely notice is that although there are some brands that want to work with us throughout the year, there are also a lot of brands that only are interested in working with us around Pride Month! We definitely hope for a future where LGBTQ+ creators are seen as important all year long, and not just in the month of June. Although pride month is a celebratory time for our whole community, we are all also loud and proud 365 days a year, not just in June!
Q4: What advice would you give to our brands to increase the community’s visibility in influencer campaigns?
Genavieve: Showcase queer individuals and families ALL YEAR LONG. We are well aware of brands who only step up during the month of June. We want to be in the Valentine ads, the Holiday pics, Mother’s / Father’s Day, back to school — representation matters every single day of the year.
Q5: Which brands in particular do you think have been doing a good job on inclusion with their campaigns and approaches over the last few years?
Lyndsay: Great campaigns I’ve seen are when the brand works with a diverse range of people and lets them be their authentic self without forcing the narrative.
I recently worked on a brand collaboration with Yankee Candle, who are supporting a charity called Rainbow Railroad. They are doing amazing work to help LGBTQ+ people to flee from countries where being LGBTQ+ is still a crime. They allowed me to create the content in the style I felt best represented the message, which centred on the charity work, rather than a product.
Not only did this campaign show that Yankee Candle is a diverse and inclusive company, but it educated people around important LGBTQ+ issues around the world.
Alicia: Levi’s and Nordstroms comes to mind as a brand that has shown significant support for the LGBTQ+ community for many years. Both brands have shown support financially, in the court room, and in stores with their products.
I have seen Target on the forefront of inclusion for not only the LGBTQ+ community, but disability and BIPOC communities. While they have made some mistakes, I do appreciate their commitment to be truly inclusive. I would like to see that support equally spread throughout the year.
Q6: Who inspires you as a creator/influencer and why?
Ashley: Music inspires me everyday! It’s such a big part of my life and I don’t go a day without listening, researching new music. Within the LGBTQ+ community, I would say Jade Thirlwall from Little Mix always stands out for me (of course I’m a little mix fan so that helps). Her ongoing LGBTQ+ allyship blows my mind. It’s so inspiring that a heterosexual person feels the need to stand up and shout for our rights and to raise awareness that it is normal. She’s such a LEDGE!
Alicia: This one’s easy, all three of my daughters. The bravery to be their true selves and their compassion for others inspires me every day. We all have unique stories and struggles. My hope is to inspire future generations in their journeys with ours.
Q7: What advice would you give to aspiring LGBTQ+ creators hoping to collaborate with brands in the near future?
Genavieve: Stay true to YOU and charge what you’re worth. Growing up, I felt like I had to fit into a certain mold and be like others who were succeeding. But I found that I am the most successful – and the happiest – when I am just being ME. Stay consistent and know that social media is a marathon and not a sprint.
Chris & Alex: The biggest piece of advice we would give is to know your worth. To know that you have all that much more to offer with each intersection you have. Above all, know that you have a platform, a voice, and influence no matter the size of your account. If you come across a brand telling you that you need to have at least 10,000+ followers to be valuable, know that couldn’t be further from the truth. And don’t think you have to wait for brands to approach you – reach out to brands you know, love, and can stand behind yourself!
But please do your research before partnering with a brand. We spend a lot of time looking into a brand’s history with minority groups, politics, and monetary donations to see if they align with our values and work to uplift our community. Focus on building your online community because that support and those connections are invaluable. Keep true to yourself and create the content you want to see in the world and you’ll never go wrong!