Partnering for Pride: What I Want Brands to Know Before Sponsoring LGBTQ+ Influencers & Bloggers

Brianne Huntsman
6 min readMay 23, 2019

When I’m not frolicking around planning photoshoots for my lifestyle blog and working on my fashion collection, I can be found over at The Huntswoman Group, offering influencer marketing & consulting services.

One of the services I offer is helping brands partner with influencers to reach new customers.

<<Note: This post was inspired by model & activist Ericka Hart. Be sure to follow her on Twitter. It was originally published in 2018, last updated in May 2021.)

Most bloggers don’t talk about the business side of being an ~influencer~, because of weird kickback they can get from their following about “getting paid” to do this work.

Honey, let me tell you. Creating content for the internet takes a LOT of time, and bloggers are often able to provide high quality content to you, their dear readers, because of sponsorships and affiliate links — or they are already independently wealthy. Check your expectations at the door!

ANYWAYS. Something that I see a lot of brands do during June, AKA Pride Month, is sponsor LGBTQ+ content creators. While I love seeing my lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, pansexual, queer, asexual, etc etc family getting that sponsor $$$, I do think there are some MEGA mistakes brands when partnering with LGBTQIA influencers for Pride.

I was interviewed for the American Marketing Association podcast about sponsoring LGBT bloggers a few years ago, which you can listen to here. And today, I want to dive in more fully on what brands need to know about marketing to the LGBT community through queer bloggers and content creators.

(And, hey! If you’re looking for a queer femme to partner with for Pride, drop me a line!!)

Pro-tip #1: Not All LGBTQ People are White & Thin

Influencer marketing is known for skewing to white thin people. It’s almost like brands are trapped in like 1965 when it comes to casting influencers. White tan folks, women with long blond hair and men with muscles. You can call it “aspirational,” I call it racist.

If this marketing tactic has been working for you up to this point (eugh), it WILL NOT WORK WHEN MARKETING TO THE LGBTQIA+ COMMUNITY. Queer folks who are attending pride and following LGBTQ+ content creators are more politically aware, and they are critical of the images they consume.

Your sponsorships need to include people of color, different abilities and TRANSGENDER PEOPLE. If you’re only looking to work with the Tyler Oakley’s of the world (ily Tyler), your mentions are gonna blow up in your face.

This is also a great opportunity to look at the overall diversity of your influencer roster. What percentage of influencers that you sponsor are white? What percentage wear a size 8 or smaller? What percentage are cisgender?

Whether you realize it or not, you communicate your values all year long with your influencer roster. If Pride is the only time you care about diversity on a roster, then you will be called out.

Do the internal work! 🌈💖

Pro-tip #2: Do You Sponsor LGBT+ Creators in Months *Other* Than June?

LGBTQ+ bloggers all joke that Pride is like our holiday season. The emails come flooding in for Pride, but where are these socially-driven organizations the other months of the year?

Our readers notice when brands only show up in their newsfeeds around Pride.

It’s a whole inside joke and meme, folks.

And this is an easy fix! Negotiate a year-long contract with LGBTQ+ YouTubers, bloggers and lifestyle divas. Have content go up every 2–3 months, and build a longterm relationship with the LGBT community.

We already know that influencer marketing works best when a brand sponsors multiple posts, creating multiple brand touch points, after all!

Pro-tip #3: Pay to Play. Seriously. Do not try the “Gifted Product” Approach.

Some of my clients only gift product, focusing on bloggers and influencers with a smaller following. Their goal is # of influencers, not total followers. Others use a mix of gifted and paid campaigns, and others (still) only do paid campaigns — they’ve learned paying means better results.

If you try to only gift product, stay the fvck away from Pride. Seriously. You are trying to leverage a marginalized group for your business. Not paying for their labor is not ethical and it will likely also create a PR crisis.

A lot of LGBTQ+ creators are looked over the entire year, and then get a deluge of emails asking for free promo during Pride.

Nope. Don’t do it.

I’ve even seen some brands try to make a donation to an LGBT org, and then ask influencers to work for free — because the brand “donated their campaign budget.”

🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️

Y’all. Asking others to work for free, because YOU made a donation is a bad look. Especially when we know that donation is tax-deductible.

Pro-tip #4: Pride is POLITICAL.

Pride literally started as a political protest, wherein LGBTQ people fought back against discrimination. (Google “Stonewall Inn” if your haven’t heard of this).

I see a lot of brands treat Pride like another holiday, thinking it’s like Easter or July 4th.

Facepalm.

While Pride is definitely a celebration, it’s not a period of the year where you should print off some rainbow shit with your logo and call it a day.

For an impactful Pride campaign, you have to go beyond the rainbow merch!!

A good Pride campaign should have:

  • PAID diverse LGBTQ content creators. SPEND MONEY. Do not try to get labor for free. It is unethical and will harm your brand.
  • Black, Transgender, non-binary and people or color to the FRONT. If your roster looks anything like the Sound of Music, then GTFO.
  • LGBTQ creators that engage with politics year round (if you’re addicted to “brand safe” influencers, a Pride campaign isn’t a good idea)

Kind of overwhelmed planning this campaign? I’m happy to do a one-off consulting session or help plan the entire campaign. My website is here.

Pro-Tip #5: Do your internal documents & company policies match your desire to partner with LGBT people?

Do you offer paternity leave for LGBTQIA+ couples? Does your workplace offer explicit protections for LGBTQIA+ people, especially transgender people? Do you have an LGBT affinity group? Do you train your employees on allyship and advocacy?

Does your healthcare plan cover transitioning for Transgender employees?

If you said “Uh, no” to any of those questions, then your $$$ is better spent creating a supportive environment for your non-cisgender and non-heterosexual employees.

I have seen many a company called out for dropping $$$$$ at Pride and on Pride campaigns and not support their LGBTQ+ employees.

The LGBTQ+ community is discerning, and people do google a brand’s policies if they see a campaign for Pride.

Looking to Partner with LGBT Bloggers?

June is just around in the corner! You can still snag creators, but you will pay a higher fee due to tight deadlines. Drop me a line if you need help!

Are **YOU** an LGBTQIA+ Blogger or Influencer?

I’d like to write a roundup of featuring all of us, so be sure to comment with your pronouns, a little about your blog and a link to your content!

Want more plus size + queer content? Be sure to subscribe to The Huntswoman Newsletter.

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Brianne Huntsman

Queer feminist and activist. Designer via @Stanford. Freelance creative & consultant. Here to raise a little hell. www.thehuntswomangroup.com