February is when the UK and USA recognise LGBT+ History Month, throughout the month, there will be different forms of recognition including events, and tons of rainbows as the LGBT community and their allies celebrate the history of the community.

Increasingly, more and more brands and organisations are working to show their support for the community. Many will participate in events, support LGBT+ businesses and others will launch Pride-themed merchandise, like rainbow-coloured products such as trainers, t-shirts and even pizzas.

How can brands ensure that they recognise and celebrate LGBT+ History Month in a respectful way and avoid ‘rainbow washing’. Our Digital PR account manager Matthew Fraser shares his information and tips about the month and how it can be recognised and celebrated properly.  

What is LGBT+ History Month?

Launching in February 2003, LGBT+ History Month came following the abolition of Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 which previously made it unlawful for local authorities to promote or educate about homosexuality.

LGBT+ History Month is recognised and celebrated in the USA and other LGBT+ progressive countries. It’s an annual, month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history.

It is important that the progress the community has made is not just recognised but celebrated and openly discussed, opening the conversation up about what else can be done to change and improve within the wider community to support the LGBT+ community.

The aim of the month is to raise awareness of the brave activists that fought for LGBT+ rights over the years and to understand what changes can be made in the present day to improve diversity and inclusivity for the LGBT+ community.

Why is it important for brands to recognise LGBT+ History Month?

LGBT+ History Month should be a time for brands to recognise, celebrate and promote diversity and openness.

It provides the ideal opportunity to champion role models, encourage an inclusive message, work towards combatting any remaining prejudice and generally represent a civil rights statement about the contribution of the LGBT community, proudly standing up in support of an often-underrepresented community.

The business benefit of being a brand that recognises and celebrates LGBT+ History Month, demonstrates that everyone is accepted for who they are and can benefit an organisation both culturally and financially.

Organisations need to create somewhere to work where everyone can thrive, as it’s all too easy for employees to become isolated when they feel they can’t be themselves in the workplace.  

The wrong way to recognise LGBT+ History Month

Before launching a campaign related to LGBT+ History Month, it is crucial that a brand isn’t committing the cardinal rule of only engaging with a marginalised community for the month. It can quickly be seen as a superficial show of support.

Members of the LGBT+ communities that have traditionally been underserved or ignored can quickly spot when brands are being insincere.

Nobody wants to be exploited or given attention just because it is popular to do during a particular month – this is known as ‘rainbow washing’.

Top tips to recognise LGBT+ History Month

LGBT+ History Month is an opportunity for your brand to demonstrate you are interested in building a long-term relationship with the community.

Below are our tips on how brands can do this in a respectful way.

  • Be a vocal ally – all the time – any communication campaign is an opportunity to share your brand values clearly, especially across social media as you interact with stakeholders on a regular basis.Supporting the community means doing so at all times, and especially when it is outside of LGBT+ History Month, use your brand platforms to stand up for what you believe in and do this throughout the year.
  • Support causes that are important to the community all year round – demonstrate that you’ve got an understanding of issues that are important to the community all year long. Look for opportunities to incorporate them into your marketing strategy throughout the year.
  • Be representative in marketing collateral – If you want to demonstrate that the LGBT+ community are welcome as customers, include them in your marketing collateral. Across social media, advertisements and within the team, showcase how your brand is inclusive and recognise the community as a trusted and valued customer.

By effectively recognising that LGBT customers belong with your brand, extend to them all year long, rather than just a couple of months out of the year, it will really demonstrate that your business and brand are important to the community and you will prove yourself as a true ally.

If you need PR, content or social support to help your brand recognise and celebrate LGBT+ History Month, feel free to get in touch with the team here.