How Your Travel Businesses Can Support the LGBTQIA+ Community During Pride Month (And Beyond)

June 8, 2022
Morgan Mostrom
5 min read

Real and meaningful support for the LGBTQIA+ travel community must last longer than a weekend parade or a month-long marketing campaign. While Pride celebrations are incredibly important, often companies engage in Pride events while neglecting to make genuine, lasting changes beyond June. To create a lasting impact, the travel and tourism industry must make a consistent commitment to understanding travel’s impact on LGBTQIA+ rights and liberation, and acknowledge that, while we’ve made strides as an industry, we have far to go. 

Homophobia and transphobia still exist in many places our industry operates in – places we take travelers. In many of these regions, LGBTQIA+ travelers face restricted rights, safety threats, discrimination, and/or discomfort from certain in-destination experiences. 

This is why it is important to remember that the Pride movement is not only a celebration, but also a time for protest and advocacy. The LGBTQIA+ community is still fighting for recognition, acceptance, and safety. And as a collective industry–built on human connection and local experiences–the travel and tourism industry must better commit to not only welcoming and affirming all travelers, but pressing for change across the globe, for a more inclusive industry.

In recent history LGBTQIA+ travelers have been a driving force for the recovery of the travel and tourism industry after shocks like 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis, and the Covid-19 pandemic. According to USA Today, LGBTQIA+ travelers are typically some of the first to begin traveling again (when it is safe to do so) paving the way for others to follow. We’ve seen that despite potential discrimination and hostility, queer people have remained intent on exploring the world. Thus, the travel industry must take further steps to protect (and to give back to) a community that has long supported it. 

So, as we enter June 2022—the 53rd anniversary of the Stonewall riots that sparked the modern Pride movement—here are some ways your travel business can genuinely support LGBTQIA+ communities throughout Pride Month (and beyond).

1. Show your support by attending and sponsoring Pride events

There are many opportunities to take part in Pride celebrations throughout the month. Research the events taking place in your community and consider attending or even sponsoring a Pride event as a way of showing your support. Further, if your business operates trips, consider offering special Pride trips where travelers can attend global Pride festivals! In attending, sponsoring, or running your own Pride trips, you’ll be able to show your commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community while also strengthening ties with potential customers—a win-win situation! 

2. Use your social channels to promote LGBTQ+ content

There are several ways businesses can use their social channels and reach to support the Pride movement. First, you can promote LGBTQIA+ content and creators, all year. Repost and share relevant industry articles, videos, and other content made by LGBTQIA+ creators, making sure to give them proper credit. For example, you can feature a blog post written by a queer travel writer and include links to their work to provide them with greater exposure.

You can also use your social media platforms to promote Pride events and LGBTQIA+ causes. Start by reminding your followers of Pride events happening in your area or promoting a local LGBTQIA+ organization that is doing great work for your community. Above all, your content should be focused on uplifting the voices of LGBTQIA+ individuals and should direct your followers towards resources that directly support the LGBTQIA+ community. 

3. Donate money to LGBTQIA+ causes

One of the best ways to support the LGBTQIA+ community is to donate money directly to an LGBTQIA+ organization or cause. Consider donating a certain portion of your sales made during June (especially if your Pride Month marketing resulted in increased profits). Donations are a great way to give back to the LGBTQIA+ community that has supported your business. Remember to do research to ensure that the recipient of your donation is an authentic LGBTQIA+ organization or nonprofit that uses funds to directly support the LGBTQIA+ community.

4. Consult with a diversity and inclusion expert

It is always best practice to bring in an expert to deal with topics that your business is not yet familiar with. For those who have not yet brought in a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) expert or in-house employee, it must be a priority to consult with one so that you can properly evaluate your business’s policies and practices. It is essential that your employees all receive training to ensure that your business is a safe and inclusive space for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or race (etc). While there are many DEI workshops and trainers, make sure to find someone who specifically has experience working with LGBTQIA+ communities. 

5. Partner with LGBTQIA+ businesses and suppliers

A great way to show lasting commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community is to hire and partner with LBGTQIA+ businesses. One way you can do this is to hire LGBTQIA+ tour leaders or employees for your company. However, you can also intentionally source LGBTQIA+ suppliers, such as LGBTQIA+-owned or operated hotels and tours. Visit sites like the IGLTA, which has a database of LGBTQIA+-friendly tourism businesses, to help you in this effort. For trips, you can also take your travelers to support any local, LGBTQIA+-run restaurants or other relevant businesses. By partnering with LGBTQIA+ businesses you are able to provide the LGBTQIA+ community with more long-term and sustainable economic support. 

6. Mark your business as an LGBTQIA+ safe space

A very simple (and free) way to support the LGBTQIA+ community is to mark your business as LGBTQIA+ friendly or safe. However, this should only be done after you have had company-wide DEI training and your business has taken steps to ensure that all LGBTQIA+ individuals will feel safe and welcomed in your business. You can then signify this commitment by including a sticker on your business or office door, including a banner or phrase on your website and social media channels, or by marking your business as “LGBTQ+ friendly” or a “Transgender Safe Space” on Google maps. 

7. Do not exploit or use the LGBTQIA+ community for profit

Unfortunately, very often we see corporations change their logo to rainbow colors and introduce a specific Pride Month product during the month of June solely in a bid to increase their profits or improve their reach. It is sadly very common for businesses to capitalize off of Pride events without making real commitment to improve the lives of the LGBTQIA+ community. Your business’s actions during Pride Month must go beyond rainbow marketing and ensure that your company is not profiting off of the pain and abuse the LGBTQIA+ community has endured. If your Pride marketing efforts resulted in bringing more customers to your business or increased brand awareness – use that additional revenue or exposure to in turn uplift the LGBTQIA+ community (for example by donating profits or promoting LGBTQIA+ creators). 

8. Continue steps 1-7 all year

The LGBTQ+ community deserves support year round, not just in June. According to NBC News, within only the first three months of 2022, 238 anti-LGBTQIA+ bills were filed in the United States alone– a number that has skyrocketed in recent years, as there were only 41 filed throughout the entire year of 2018. 

In other areas of the world, same-sex couples can still be sentenced to life imprisonment, and even the death penalty. The Human Rights Watch reports that: “…at least 68 countries have national laws criminalizing same-sex relations between consenting adults” and “at least nine countries have national laws criminalizing forms of gender expression that target transgender and gender nonconforming people.” While great progress has been made globally, the LGBTQIA+, and trans community especially, continue to face increased threats throughout the globe. It is more important than ever that businesses use their power, platform, and reach to support the LGBTQIA+ community every day. 

As a travel business, you have the great opportunity to make a big impact on the LGBTQIA+ community. Use this month to start taking tangible steps towards creating a more inclusive travel industry and a safer society for all. The best way to celebrate Pride Month is to make a sincere and continuous commitment to support the LGBTQIA+ community not just in June, but every month.