It being pride month this June, I want you to take some time to reflect on the values of your business, ask yourself if you and your business are truly inclusive towards LGBTQIA+ individuals and relationships, and to challenge yourself to do better.
what is truly important, is to keep these values throughout the year, and to not forget them when we are no longer in Pride month.
What exactly is the LGBTQIA+ community? This community includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual individuals, as well as people who are represented by more than one letter. The plus symbol at the end of the acronym is meant to extend to all people who do not identify with a label—or are included in the community by another label not honored in the acronym—as well as individuals who are questioning their gender or sexuality.
To truly support the community is to be past the surface level of “love is love” posted on your website and social media platforms. Without action, these performances fall flat.
lets dive into it!
use inclusive language with all aspects of your business – this includes both on public platforms (such as on your website and social media) and then behind the scenes such as with client communications.
time to look at your website and social media to make sure it is inclusive of all couples! for example, if you are in the wedding business and you use the terminology “bride and groom” for future clients, you are using exclusionary language. Not only is this exclusionary for same-gender couples, but it also excludes nonbinary individuals who do not feel represented by the very gendered “bride” or “groom” terms. with more gender-neutral language, you keep everything inclusive.
for gender neutral terms, I like to use “partners”. ultimately, see what your clients prefer!
I want to just point out that while I identify with “queer” not everyone in the community accepts and uses that terminology. Always ask your clients how they want to be referred as, especially on social media.
the word queer has a ton of historical context.
this was often used in a derogatory way, while some people in the community (such as myself) use it as an umbrella term because no other label feels quite right. if you are not a part of the community, it is respectful to use LGBTQIA+ as a way to refer to those in the community, especially on any public platforms, until the individuals give you their preference with their own personal identity.
on my form to submit an inquiry, I always ask inquiring couples their pronouns. this makes sure that I am able to address my clients correctly. if you ask everyone their pronouns and make it common practice, it not only becomes a great habit, but you can make sure you are being inclusive. if you do not know someone’s pronouns, use their names! (instead of her bouquet, say “April’s bouquet”).
with client communication
it is super important to continue practices or inclusivity after a couple books you. the great thing about asking for pronouns in the inquiry form is that I can always triple check that I am referring to my clients correctly, I also ask for their love story and other information that I can refer back to so I can give them the best client experience possible. I want to make sure my clients are feeling safe, welcomed and affirmed.
it is important when talking throughout the wedding day to use neutral terminology so that your clients feel comfortable. for instance, instead of saying “bridal or grooms suites” I would say “getting ready suites”. it’s a simple change in words to create a trust between you and your clients.
if you’re a photographer, stop with the gendered posing and learn how to photograph all types of relationships
a lot of times photographers tend to pose in a very gendered way – for instance, the more “masculine” person is typically holding the more “feminine” person. Instead, pose your couples how they feel comfortable and switch them around! Have them take terms dipping each other and holding one another! This will help you better serve all couples and not just the ones of the community. I wrote another blog post about this located here.
I often do a ton of candid work in my photography business – this takes away the awkwardness of posing out of the situation, but rather have them interact naturally. Like stated before, typically the more “masculine“ person holds the more “feminine” person… instead tell them “hold each other” and see where they fall naturally. Even if it is a heteronormative relationship, don’t assume either! Everyone enjoys being the little spoon one time or another!
the worst thing you could do as a photographer is make your clients feel uncomfortable. I have had clients tell me that other photographers had made them feel such in sessions before (whether it was misgendering or assuming certain ways their relationship works!) which is completely unacceptable.
don’t make assumptions
not everyone in the LGBTQIA+ community looks a specific way – and that goes for the relationships too! For example, when looking at me and my husband, we seem like a heteronormative couple, yet I am part of the community while he is not. some of these relationships come across as “straight passing” and assuming such is doing an injustice to your clients. regardless of what relationship they are in, their sexuality and identity is still valid.
If an individual does disclose that they are a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, this likely means they feel safe enough to be vulnerable with you. Be particularly mindful of how you respond and avoid insensitive or invasive questions.
include LGBTQIA+ people on your website and social media
you can say you welcome all communities in your business but if you do not physically show them on your public platforms, you are not being inclusive.
for example, your inclusivity starts with your public platforms – if an LGBTQIA+ client does not see themselves represented, they should chose a business that is willing and proud to represent the community.
if they have to question whether or not you support them, you’re doing it wrong.
provide emotional labor when it comes to recommendations
if you offer vendor recommendations, make sure they are all accepting and supportive of the LGBTQIA+ community.
If you are not a member of the LGBTQIA+ community personally, taking on the emotional burden of doing this in-depth, thorough, and important research is an incredible way to show your allyship and take meaningful action.
If you read this blog post and think “hmm, I have some work to do” it is totally okay! Acknowledging and being accepting is the first step towards growth!
the next step is to reflect on this information and how you run your business and then make a plan that can better your business to make sure it is truly inclusive of all people.
think about how you can turn your support into action:
- re evaluate the language you use both on public platform and in person
- get rid of gendered biases
- approach all clients and couples equally, whether they are in the community or not.
- represent LGBTQIA+ people on your platforms
- evaluating who you associate with and the vendors you recommend
- when posting, make sure you are using accurate pronouns and terminology
- remaining committed to treating everyone equally and not tokenizing LGBTQIA+ community
doing all this will make your business inclusive and take actual action to keep it that way!