Heard of rainbow-washing? This occurs when brands (or other entities) go “all out” for Pride Month—and it all ends on July 1. And by “all out,” we mean changing their profile pictures to include rainbows and selling products with the various LGBTQIA+ flags on them.
Let’s be real: Customers can see right through this. If this is all you’re doing to support the LGBTQIA+ community, you will get called out.
The real solution is to create a year-round approach to highlighting diversity, being inclusive by giving people of all gender identities and sexual orientations a platform, and treating all your partners equitably.
When members of the LGBTQIA+ community truly feel valued by your business—rather than feeling like a marketing ploy to help you earn extra cash in June—you’ll see a massive uptick in brand love.
Why LGBTQ+ inclusivity is essential (and not just during Pride Month)
When it comes to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, it’s essential to walk the walk rather than just talk the talk. In short, if your brand wants to reach people of all genders and sexual orientations, it’s essential to elevate the voices of people of all genders and sexual orientations. And while it makes sense from a financial perspective (the LGBTQ+ community has a combined buying power of $3.7 trillion), the true value lies in helping people from all walks of life feel heard, safe, and empowered.
How to partner with LGBTQ+ influencers
One of the best ways to make sure your marketing efforts are as diverse as your audience is by partnering with true brand fans from all walks of life. Be sure to offer them as much creative freedom as possible in their brand promotions, as they are the experts on what their audiences like to see and hear. And while it should go without saying, it’s essential to use a standard payment system so you can be certain all of your partners are receiving fair compensation.
Another method you can use is partnering with customers to share their authentic user-generated content (UGC). Just be sure to negotiate content usage rights with the creators, and don’t be surprised if they ask for compensation in return.
LGBTQIA+ icons throughout history
Harvey Milk was one of the first openly gay people to be elected as a public official in the U.S. In 1977, he earned a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. After about a year in office, he was assassinated.
Before his political career, Milk served as a diving instructor for the U.S. Navy, but he later resigned after people began to question his sexual orientation. After holding a variety of jobs, including teacher and stock analyst, Milk went on to help co-found the Castro Village Association, an organization of mainly LGBTQ+ businesses, for which he served as President.
Marsha P. Johnson
Marsha P. Johnson was a Black trans woman and drag queen in New York City who became an icon after participating in the Stonewall Riots in 1969. Throughout the years, she helped homeless LGBTQ+ youth, and she advocated for her community against injustices. Additionally, along with Sylvia Rivera, she co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR).
Frida Kahlo was a famous Mexican artist who expressed various life experiences through her paintings and drawings. She was married to Diego Rivera, but she was known to have had many affairs throughout her lifetime with men and women alike, including Leon Trotsky, Dolores del Rio, and Isamu Noguchi.
Her self-portraits are arguably her most famous pieces, and her likeness and portraits have been repurposed in art, merchandise, and more throughout the years.
Frederick Bulsara, better known by his stage name of Freddie Mercury, was the lead singer of the rock band Queen. He found massive international success with the brand, branched out on a solo career, and even recorded the song which would become the theme of the 1992 Olympics with Montserrat Caballé.
Many close friends of Mercury’s point to the band’s hit, Bohemian Rhapsody, as Freddie’s way of coming out as a gay man to the world.
After passing away from AIDS complications, the remaining members of Queen and Freddie’s executor developed the Mercury Phoenix Trust, a charity supporting AIDS education and awareness in developing countries.
Marlene Dietrich was a German-American actress and nightclub performer from the 1930s through 1978. She broke boundaries by wearing trousers and typical men’s fashion, and she was known to take many male and female lovers throughout her lifetime.
In the ‘40s, she dedicated much of her time to supporting the American war effort and helped sell war bonds throughout the country, despite having grown up in Germany. She even recorded popular American songs in German that could be used in overseas broadcasts.
Sir Elton John is a pop star, singer, composer, pianist, and gay icon. As a child, he earned a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music and later joined Bluesology as a member of the band. John initially came out as bisexual to Rolling Stone in 1976, and he told the same publication he was gay in 1992.
RuPaul Charles is perhaps the most widely recognized drag queen in pop culture today. RuPaul’s Drag Race has ushered the art of drag into mainstream media, and what began as a reality show in 2009 has now spanned several countries and continents to become a media empire.
In addition to his reality show, he’s a celebrated recording artist, actor, and entrepreneur. And at the time of publication, RuPaul is “the most-decorated Black artist in Emmys history, with 12 trophies to his name so far,” according to Entertainment Weekly.
Lesbian influencers to follow
Jessica and Claudia are a couple sharing their adventures as mothers and their experiences with disability. Jessica is an activist for deaf and disabled people, posting about her story with deafness and chronic illnesses, and she loves to showcase her vintage style. Claudia is a nature lover who documents her fitness and gardening activities.
Tanya Compas is a youth worker, writer, and activist from London. She uses her platform to amplify the voices of marginalized communities, advocate for social justice, and share resources related to mental health, sexuality, and relationships. Tanya is a founding member of Exist Loudly, a grassroots organization that supports Black LGBTQ+ youth in the UK. She is also a regular speaker at conferences, workshops, and events on issues affecting young people and LGBTQ+ communities.
Gay influencers to follow
@olliedreamer #fyp #dragrace #rupaulsdragrace y’all hiring? @RuPaul’s Drag Race ♬ original sound – Complex
Ollie Drennan is a micro influencer and self-proclaimed “gaymer.” He frequently posts about his favorite video games, including Pokémon and Final Fantasy. Whether making a comedic skit about a beloved character or showing off his latest cosplay, he’s connecting with his followers over their combined love of gaming.
Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova are drag queens perhaps best known for their stints on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Together, the queens record their podcast, The Bald and the Beautiful with Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamo, create hilarious videos, and share their unfiltered thoughts with the world.
Bisexual (bi) influencers to follow
Molly Sydnor is a multidisciplinary artist who strives for innovation and creativity. Based in Dallas, Texas, Molly creates interactive works of art, and she frequently explores gender, race, and sexuality in her pieces. She’s been featured in D Magazine, the Dallas Observer, and PAPER magazine.
@taylorxmichele If you ever wonder or if you ever feel this way you aren’t alone❤️ #lgbtq #bisexual #ZFlipClackdown ♬ Meet Me At Our Spot – THE ANXIETY & WILLOW & Tyler Cole
Taylor Michele is a ray of sunshine and talks about her sexuality in order to provide representation as a Latinx woman and member of the LGBTQ+ community. She also posts a lot of skits, satire, and comedy covering topics like buying a house in California, adulting, and being single.
You can also find Taylor on Instagram.
Transgender (trans) influencers to follow
Let’s hear it for the girls with “boy” names… it’s gender neutral babe !!
Dylan Mulvaney is a trans woman and mega influencer who loves to spread happiness. She regularly updates her fans with a series of posts that begin with “day X of being a girl,” and she brings a lot of joy to her followers’ feeds. In the past, they’ve partnered with brands like Ulta and OkCupid.
In an interview with Elle, Dylan said, “With my ‘Days of Girlhood’ series, I’m working on picking up all the pieces that were left behind in my childhood, and I think there are cis women watching my videos trying to do the same. We’ve all been programmed to look at our femininity as a weakness, and we have to flip the narrative.”
You can also find Dylan on Instagram.
@wanderinglayla Nah bc i be devouring food after HRT #fyp ♬ original sound – $
Layla Jade is a micro influencer and trans woman who makes content about being trans, her life journey, and her boyfriend. She never misses a chance to lip-sync to a TikTok sound, and she does a lot of throwbacks with pics of herself as a kid.
@tboytattoos #leavingmybody #leavingmybodytrend #ftm #trans #shania #shaniatwain ♬ Man! I Feel Like A Woman! – Shania Twain
Jaimie Wilson is a macro influencer, musician, and New Jersey-based tattoo artist. In his posts, he shares comedic takes on life, talks about his experience tattooing, takes on LGQBTQ+ topics, latest songs, and more.
Pansexual (pan) influencers to follow
@nico1eodeon This is me recoming out and I’m so proud to be pansexual <3 #pride#pan#lgbtq ♬ Somebody That I Used to Know (Remix) – speed🎧
Nicole is a mega influencer who loves to showcase her sense of style, cosplays, #GRWM process, and sense of humor in her videos. If you’re looking for fashion inspo, Nicole is here to help.
You can also find Nicole on Instagram.
JellyBean is a mega influencer and gamer who loves to post about Roblox, Splatoon, and Minecraft. They bring a sense of humor to everything they do, and they always embrace the positive.
Asexual (ace) and asexual spectrum (a-spec) influencers to follow
@therealcodywebb It took me about two years after this incident to figure out I was ace. #asexuality #ace #acepride #aceweek #aspec #asexual #memories #aceweek2022 ♬ The Loneliest Time – Carly Rae Jepsen & Rufus Wainwright
Cody Webb is a comedian and macro influencer who shares clips from his comedy shows, funny skits about being ace, and general musings on life. If you’re looking for a laugh, Cody is the person to turn to.
@unknownplanet.pdf spectrums of attractions arent solely for aspecs to explore and it bothers me how little they are brought up #aromantic #aropride #arotok #alloaro #aroacespec #lgbtqiaplus #romanticidentities ♬ Big chads use this sound – Tony-soprano
@unknownplanet.pdf is an aromantic micro creator who shares content about a-spec identities and advocates for the acceptance of all. A lot of the comments on their videos are about how people “finally feel seen” or realize they’re “not alone” in their feelings.
@lesbianplantdad Just checking. #lgbtq #lesbian #demisexual #masc #wlw #queer #🏳️🌈 #foryoupage ♬ original sound – m gewehr
Jackie Simpson, perhaps better known as @lesbianplantdad, is a lesbian, demisexual macro influencer who creates funny and entertaining skits and content about the LGBTQ+ community. She never shies away from sharing her thoughts, and she can be a great source of reassurance for people who are new to the community.
Intersex influencers to follow
@sydneykidneybean Thank you @seensexed #worldintersexday #intersexday #intersexawareness #seen #seentv #stories ♬ original sound – Sydney
Sydney is an intersex, nonbinary creator studying finance and marketing and creates a lot of content around financial health. They never shy away from answering questions and being open with their followers.
You can also follow Sydney on Instagram.
@genderfenderbender It’s #IntersexDayOfSolidarity or #IntersexDayOfRemembrance! Here are 10 ways you can show up for #intersex people! #EndIntersexSurgery ♬ original sound – Mari ✨
Mari is an educator and advocate, and they create content to build awareness around intersex individuals. They cover everything from intersex history to bodily autonomy and more. They also go around the country to teach “Intersex 101” workshops at conferences, universities, and organizations.
You can also find Mari on Instagram.
Nonbinary and genderqueer influencers to follow
@august_skyz Since y’all like the ｇｅｎｄｅｒ•ｆｌｕｉｄcontent so much- please enjoy ♡ . . . . #fyp #genderfluid #theythem #hethey #sheher #hehim #nonbinary #acceptance #fypsounds #lgbtqia #friendship #identify #lgbtq #fy #fyp ♬ smile
August is a micro creator and aspiring actor. They post comedic videos about living life as a genderfluid person and entertaining lip-syncs.
You can also find August on Instagram.
@thathoneywitch We dont owe anyone anything when it comes to our genders and that includes an explination #gay #lesbian #nonbinary #trans #agender #lgbt #lgbtq #lgbtqia #lgbtqiaplus #transgender #gnc #gendernonconforming ♬ systemBOOT.PearlFinal.Info – 🇵🇷🇵🇪
Honey Rose is an agender macro creator, tarot reader, and avid participant in #WitchTok. When they’re not posting content about being agender, they share details about their partner, their love for spiritual practices, and videos about trending topics.
@kayleekawaii FORGET THAT! CONSTRUCTS ARE NOT REAL! #nonbinary ♬ original sound – lesley gonzalez 💞
Kaylee Herring is a nonbinary mega influencer who frequently posts lip-syncs and skits about the LGBTQ+ community. They enjoy showing off their masc and femme outfits and flipping their style in their posts.
Two-spirit influencers to follow
@ohkairyn Coming out can be one of the most difficult and scary times in a queer person’s life. Everyone’s experience is different and valid though – here’s some things that I did that worked, and some that I would change if I could go back. ✨ Remember that your safety is of the utmost importance and to always surround yourself with people that you trust. ❤️🌈 @nyxcosmetics_canada @itgetsbettercanada #NationalComingOutDay #ItGetsBetterProject #ad ♬ original sound – Kairyn Potts
Kairyn Potts is Nakota Sioux, a Twitch streamer, a writer, an actor, a host, a model, and a macro influencer on TikTok. Kairyn focuses on educating people about indigenous culture and history, as well as two-spirit identities.
Geo Soctomah Neptune is a United States Artists 2021 Fellow, member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, master basketmaker, and drag artist. Geo has been featured in a number of interviews, including with Vogue on their earring collection and the show Getting Curious on Netflix.
Key takeaway: Partnering with LGBTQIA+ influencers is essential year-round, not just during Pride.
The creator economy is incredibly diverse, giving brands unparalleled access to partners representing all gender identities and sexual orientations. Now, it’s up to today’s businesses to work with them to create content that resonates with viewers, showcases diversity in an equitable and inclusive way, and recognizes the beauty of the LGBTQIA+ community.