It seems like forever ago that I wrote a blog talking about the ‘Gay Lifestyle.’ In that post I boldly exclaimed ‘There is no such thing as a gay lifestyle!” I stand by that statement but feel the need to elaborate.
There is no such thing as a gay lifestyle because by saying lifestyle you are implying that being gay is a choice. Lifestyles are choice based. I consider myself to have a health and active lifestyle for example. It is my choice to be healthy and active. I as an LGBT person still have different kinds of lifestyles just like everyone else; sedentary lifestyle, extravagant lifestyle, etc.
But I bring this up again because I was in a meeting recently with someone who knows my business pretty well. She and I were with a group of other people and we were talking about LGBT products and she said “Wouldn’t that be for someone living the gay lifestyle?” Several people in the group with me looked at me with the look of “Ooooh, she just made a faux paux!” So I took that moment to gently remind her that there is no such thing as a gay lifestyle let alone to be ‘living the gay lifestyle.’ She was embarrassed by the faux paux and said that she should know better by now.
The whole conversation began as we were discussing how financial planners use the phrase ‘Non-Traditional Family’ in their marketing to identify different types of markets and LGBT people fall into that category. (I’ve written about that in a previous blog post titled: What’s wrong with the “Non-Traditional Family?”) My comment was calling anyone a Non-Traditional Family is going to be offense regardless of who. Whether you are saying that about LGBT people, single mothers, divorced couples, etc. It has an offensive ring to it. It seems odd to me even thinking about it, that the financial industry still uses such poorly chosen language. I see this phrase the most with respect to LGBT advertising. Financial advisors/planners out there – if you are using marketing materials supplied by your corporate office that classifies LGBT people as a Non-Traditional Family – quit, while you are ahead! You are better off not using ay materials at all.
I’ve mentioned this topic among others with this group before and she truly just didn’t remember how bad this could come across. Fortunately she and I are close so I was able to correct her without it being a big issue, but if she had been sitting down in front of one of her LGBT clients and said something like that – it may have been another scenario. The client may or may not have said anything directly to her about it, but they would have walked away with an assumption that she really doesn’t know anything about the community – when in this case – is not true. She knows a great deal about the community and the different nuisances with the products she sells and how it affects the LGBT community. But this simple lapse, with a poorly chosen phrase could put her in jeopardy of appearing ignorant to the community. The last thing she is trying to do. And I’m sure the last thing you are trying to do as well. Some times it’s just a matter of thinking before you speak, and if you don’t know the appropriate way to phrase something – just ask around. 😉
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