#29: The Top 8 LGBT News Stories of February and Why They Matter [Podcast] Skip to the content

#29: The Top 8 LGBT News Stories of February and Why They Matter [Podcast]


Today I am going to jump all over the map so sit back (or keep running) and enjoy the update on LGBT. Knowing what is going on in the LGBT landscape can make your marketing more effective due to your understanding of current day topics. I’ve selected 8 examples that cover a TV show, the music industry, professional sports, the Olympics, politics, social media and Hollywood. As I said, the gift that keeps on giving! I’ve chosen a broad array of things to demonstrate how quickly the LGBT landscape is moving and emphasize that if you want to be marketing to this community, you need to be keeping up with it all!


The first is that my next webinar “Increasing your LGBT Market Share through Authentic Communications” is on March 19th at 11AM and you can RSVP You can RSVP for the webinar by going to www.jenntgrace.com/webinars. It’s an hour long presentation with plenty of time for Q&A, so any questions you might have please feel free to bring them with you. Also if you are listening to this podcast episode in the future after Wed. March 19, fear not I do webinars monthly- so still head over to that same link and you can sign up for the next available webinar!


The best way to stay in touch and know what is happening is my joining my mailing list. There are “Join the mailing list” now buttons all over the place, including the contact form and on the right side bar. So head over there and put in your e-mail address and we’ll stay in touch. I only e-mail about once a month or so I keep my e-mails to a minimum to not overwhelm you.


Alright – let’s begin!

      • Jan. 26 – Disney Channel’s Good Luck Charlie – debuts two lesbian Mom’s


      • Jan. 26 – Kacey Musgraves wins Best Country Song and Best Country Album at the Grammy’s and sings her single “Follow Your Arrow.”

        • http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2014/02/07/kacey-musgraves-follow-your-arrow-latest-sign-shifts-in-country-music/
        • “If you save yourself for marriage, you’re a bore. If you don’t save yourself for marriage, you’re a horrible person,” crooned the 25-year-old Texas native. “Make lots of noise, kiss lots of boys, or kiss lots of girls, if that’s what you’re into. When the straight and narrow gets a little too straight, roll up a joint, or don’t… If you don’t go to Church, you’ll go to hell. If you’re the first one on the front row, you’re a self-righteous son-of-a…”
        • “At first, I was like, ‘There’s going to be backlash.’ I know a lot of people don’t really agree with those things, especially in the South,” she told country music publication The Boot last year. “But there’s actually a lot less criticism towards that song than I imagined… Even if they don’t agree with the girls kissing girls thing or even the drug reference, I would hope that they would agree that no matter what we all should be able to love who we want to love and live how we want to live.”
        • Are LGBT allies under-appreciated, thanks to Macklemore?
        • http://chicagospectrum.com/2014/02/03/column-lgbt-allies-appreciated-thanks…



      • Feb. 4 – AT&T Condemns Anti-LGBT Law in Russia, Sets Example for Other Olympic Sponsors

        • http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/att-condemns-anti-lgbt-law-in-russia-sets-example-for-other-olympic-sponsor
        • Today, AT&T became the first major U.S. corporation to make a public statement condemning the anti-LGBT Russian law outlawing “homosexual propaganda.” Since the passage of the law last June, the Russian LGBT community has been targeted with violence, harassment, bomb threats, and limitations on its freedom of speech and assembly. HRC called on corporate sponsors of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to condemn the dangerous law. In spite of the fact that it is not an IOC corporate sponsor, AT&T heeded HRC’s call to stand with LGBT Russians and equality supporters all over the world. HRC President Chad Griffin issued the following statement:
        • “Today, AT&T courageously recommitted itself to fairness, equality and basic human rights. AT&T should be recognized for showing true leadership in opposing this hateful Russian law, and other sponsors that have failed to lead should take corrective action immediately. A company that claims to support LGBT equality should do so wherever it operates, not just in the United States, and we call on all Olympic Sponsors to follow AT&T’s lead and publicly denounce Russia’s anti-LGBT law.”
        • IOC and Sochi corporate sponsors include: The Dow Chemical Company, General Electric, Panasonic of North America, Atos, McDonald’s Corporation, Procter & Gamble, Omega, Samsung Electronics, Coca-Cola, and Visa Inc. Company.
          • McDonald’s #CheersToSochi Campaign Meets With LGBT Backlash
          • http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-wooledge/mcdonalds-cheerstosochi-c_b_4640514.html
          • By the end of Wednesday, a Twitter search of the McDonald’s hashtag #CheersToSochi revealed that it was no hyperbole when the Bilerico Project’s John Becker declared it officially “hijacked.” Legions of LGBT protesters outnumbered everyone else in the feed. McDonald’s had particularly bad timing. It was ill-conceived to launch this campaign while the sting was still fresh from reports of Olympic security officials tackling a young LGBT activist at a torch relay. It couldn’t have helped that Jon Stewart was just about to focus his razor-sharp wit on the “Homophobic Olympics” Tuesday night.
        • Jan. 29 – Hunted released. Shocking Channel 4 documentary reveals full horror of persecution in Russia where “gay people are hunted like animals”
        • http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/hunted-shocking-channel-4-documentary-3111965


      • Feb. 8 – Attorney General Extends Commitment to Equality for Married Same-Sex Couples

        • http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/09/us/more-federal-privileges-to-extend-to-same-sex-couples.html
        • The federal government will soon treat married same-sex couples the same as heterosexual couples when they file for bankruptcy, testify in court or visit family in prison.
        • Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was preparing to issue policies aimed at eliminating the distinction between same-sex and opposite-sex married couples in the federal criminal justice system, according to a speech given at a Saturday event organized by a prominent gay-rights group.
        • “In every courthouse, in every proceeding and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States, they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections and rights as opposite-sex marriages,” Mr. Holder’s said.
        • The changes were set in motion last year when the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional to refuse federal benefits to married same-sex couples, a ruling that Mr. Holder supported.


      • Feb. 10 – Michael Sam – possible first openly gay NFL player


      • Feb. 13 – Facebook goes beyond ‘male’ and ‘female’ with new gender options

        • http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/13/tech/social-media/facebook-gender-custom/
        • In a nod to the “it’s complicated” sexual identities of many of its users, the social network on Thursday added a third “custom” gender option for people’s profiles. In addition to Male or Female, Facebook now lets U.S. users choose among some 50 additional options such as “transgender,” “cisgender,” “gender fluid,” “intersex” and “neither.”
        • Users also now have the ability to choose the pronoun they’d like to be referred to publicly: he/his, she/her, or the gender-neutral they/their.
        • “When you come to Facebook to connect with the people, causes, and organizations you care about, we want you to feel comfortable being your true, authentic self,” Facebook said in a post on its Diversity page.
        • “An important part of this is the expression of gender, especially when it extends beyond the definitions of just ‘male’ or ‘female,’ ” the post continued. “So today, we’re proud to offer a new custom gender option to help you better express your own identity on Facebook.”
        • Facebook said it worked with a group of leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organizations to come up with the new gender categories.


      • Feb. 14 – Ellen Page comes out at the HRC’s Inaugural Time to Thrive Conference

        • Nervous voice
        • Lying by omission – key message
        • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hlCEIUATzg
        • Side note Robin McHaelen of Hartford based True Colors was a recipient of one of the first three Upstander Awards, next to Lance Bass and Magic Johnson. I interviewed Robin last year – you can check it out at jenntgrace.com/robin-mchaelen
        • HuffPost article – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/annie-l-scholl/why-it-matters-who-ellen-_b_4795166.html
        • When Ellen DeGeneres came out as a lesbian in 1997, she said she did it neither to be “the” lesbian actress, nor to be a spokesperson for all things gay. She did it for her own truth. Just as I imagine Rosa Parks wasn’t looking to forge a new era for freedom and equality when she refused to give up her seat on that Montgomery City bus on her way home from work in 1955.


Would you prefer to read the transcript than listen to the episode? No problem! Read the transcript below.

AUDIO TITLE:  Episode #29 – 8 Great Things in Three Weeks

Jenn T Grace:

You are listening to the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast, Episode 29.


Welcome to the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast where you’ll learn how to do business with and market to the LGBT community in an authentic and transparent way. We’re talking about the $790 billion lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender community. We’ll help you grow your business, gain market share and impact your bottom line. And now your host – she’s an entrepreneur, a marketing maven and an advocate for the LGBT business community. Jenn, with two N’s, T. Grace.

Jenn T Grace:

Well hello and welcome to episode number 29 of the podcast. I am your host, Jenn Grace, and today is going to be a slightly different episode than you may be used to. Typically I either do an interview or I have one topic that I cover in great length. But today I want to cover a lot of things; I’m actually going to jump around a little bit for what I feel is somewhat of a logical order. So why I’m doing this is because over the last couple of weeks, or even just since the beginning of January, there have been so many changes and advancements and media related things that are just coming out of everywhere as it relates to LGBT. And specifically in the last podcast when I was talking about A&E’s Duck Dynasty and Cracker Barrel and all of that kerfuffle if you will- I love that word, anytime I can use it I will. And so that was episode 27 I believe, so it was not the last episode but the one before it, I was talking about how the media is really just kind of the gift that keeps on giving these days because there’s just always something to talk about as it relates to LGBT.

For today’s episode..

So today while it may seem like I’m all over the map, I really do have a logical order here. So I want to cover eight examples of what’s going on in current day LGBT-related things that are happening literally within the last like three to four weeks. So we’re going to go basically a different- a broad array, so we’ll cover things such as the- such as TV shows, the music industry, professional sports, the Olympics, politics, social media and Hollywood. So as I said it’s going to be kind of all over the map, but I’m going to go in a chronological order so hopefully you can keep up and learn a thing or two.

So I have no doubt that you will be able to keep up with this, and of course all of the information that I talk about here on the show- and I’m going to be referencing a lot of articles and all that kind of stuff. You can find that information on my website if you go to www.JennTGrace.com/029, that is for episode number 29. So anything that I talk about if you want more information, you want to see a video I’m referencing, by all means you can just head over to the website and click on it. So it’s as easy as that.

First things first…

But as always before we get into the meat of the episode itself, I want to cover just a couple of things. And the one thing that I always mention is the date of my next webinar. So my webinar is titled Increasing Your LGBT Market Share Through Authentic Communications, and that webinar is on March 19th at 11:00 AM Eastern Standard Time. So if you are interested in heading on over to the webinar, please go to the website at www.JennTGrace.com/webinars and you can RSVP there, you can check out more of what the webinar is going to be about, but essentially it’s usually about an hour long and I provide a lot of time towards the end for Q&A; so if you have any type of questions whether it relates to something that I actually talked about during the webinar, or if it’s completely unrelated, it does not matter because I’m more than happy to attempt to answer it for you, and if I don’t have an answer I will do a little digging and I will get one back to you as soon as I can. So definitely check it out, I love doing the webinars every single month. They’re awesome, they’re always filled with great information and I couldn’t ask for better participants when you guys do come over to the webinar. So if you haven’t been on one yet, please do. And if you have been on one, there is no reason why you can’t come again because oftentimes I am changing up the content and I’m using different examples, and different case studies that I’ve kind of gone through throughout the last month. So that is the webinar.

And then the other thing I wanted to mention is I would love for you to join the mailing list. So it’s called The Gay Marketing Insider, and I basically provide you with information about once a month or so that I think is going to help you be better and more efficient in your LGBT marketing outreach. So there’s no strings attached to it, just head on over to the website, you can click on the little graphic on the right hand side that says, ‘Join The Gay Marketing Insider,’ and you can just put your email address in and you’ll start getting emails. And like I said it’s usually about once a month. I try to keep them to a minimum so I’m not overwhelming you, but I also want to make sure that I’m packing them with really good content. So that’s usually without a doubt some good content to be had.

So since today I have a lot to cover, I’m going to end the announcements at that, and attempt to dive into a whole host of things that have happened from January 26th through- let me see my notes, February 14th. So we’re talking about just a couple of weeks’ timeframe of all of this stuff has happened. So as I mentioned, the media and LGBT in general is just really the gift that keeps on giving. So I don’t want to just focus my efforts on one particular thing like just educate you here about all politics that are happening right now, or just what’s happening with marriage equality. I really want to show you just the differences and how it seems like the universe is starting to play to LGBT folks’ advantage.

First thing listed…

So the first thing that I want to talk about today is that the Disney Channel debuted two lesbian mothers on their show Good Luck Charlie. And this happened on January 26th, so it premiered and it- yeah it premiered on that Sunday night, and I know it comes on Sunday nights because I actually watch it with both of my kids. So my kids are five and seven, and we’ve been watching Good Luck Charlie- let me think, at least two years, it has to be at least two years we’ve been watching the show. And I have a particular fondness for the show because it’s pretty corny but it’s pretty entertaining compared to some of the other shows that come on for children. So I get a kick out of the show and it’s happened more than once where I will be the only one left in the room and I’m still watching the show and don’t even realize it. So yeah, that’s kind of irrelevant but I just want to throw it out there anyway.

So Good Luck Charlie has lesbian moms who make their first appearance on Good Luck Charlie, and on the Disney Channel Network itself, which is absolutely enormous and there’s this activist group called One Million Moms, and I have mentioned them on the podcast before and I’ve mentioned them in blogs that they’re not even really one million moms, there are like maybe 400,000 moms. And they’re really conservative, and they don’t want anything LGBT put in front of children and they’re just- they’re a pain in the ass to be perfectly honest. So they did their best efforts to get Disney to take back this whole- the whole story line and Disney said, “No,” and voila. So on January 26th we have lesbian mothers who make an appearance on the Disney Channel.

So I have a link in the show notes, so like I said you can go to www.JennTGrace.com/029 and you can go over there and check out the link that I have that talks about how Disney introduced the first lesbian characters. And it’s interesting because I had a couple of conversations with friends of mine, and people that I’m connected with on Facebook, and a handful of them were annoyed that the two women were white and more feminine. So this is one of those things that we’re in somewhat of a lose-lose situation, because no matter what Disney came out with in terms of a couple, whether it’s a lesbian couple or a gay male couple, I don’t think it really matters because there’s always going to be people who are annoyed by this. Because you know, they’re too feminine, they’re too butch, they’re too stereotypical; no matter what the scenario, I think in Disney’s case they’re probably in a lose-lose. So I do not wish to focus my efforts on that. I say that we should be really, really positive and excited that Disney went out there and did this. Because Disney Corporation itself is really progressive, they have really incredibly strong policies for all of their LGBT people, all of their LGBT staff, cast members, et cetera. So it’s only appropriate in my opinion that they would take that logical next step and introduce lesbian characters into their programming. So I applaud them, I think they did a great job, and if you have seen the show, if you have kids who are young enough, I think that they worked the characters in perfectly. I know that some people were just watching like an eight minute clip of this lesbian couple having interactions with Bob and Amy who are the parents on the show. And to them it may seem forced or it may seem a little bit odd, but if you watch the show and you understand the character dynamics, I think they worked these people in flawlessly.

So that is number one of eight that the Disney Channel introduces two lesbian moms in the show Good Luck Charlie. So if you want more information about that, definitely check out the link on my website.

Number two:

So number two also happened on January 26th, it was a busy, busy evening that night. And that is around the Grammy’s. So now you may be thinking that I’m going to cover the Macklemore and the whole thing with Madonna, and the big wedding and all that kind of stuff. But I actually already covered all of that on my website. So if you want to go check out my take on that you’re more than welcome to go read the blog and I have a whole thing written up about allies and whether or not Macklemore is doing us- us as an LGBT community a disservice or not. So I enjoyed writing that post, so by all means go check it out. But I’m not going to cover that here today because I would like to cover something entirely different, and something really, really fascinating. And that is Kacey Musgraves, I don’t know if you know who she is, I personally had no idea who she was until I was watching the Grammy’s. And she won Best Country Song and Best Country Album at the Grammy’s this year. So she sung a single that she created which was called Follow Your Arrow, and previous to watching the Grammy’s I had no idea who she was or even had heard the song before. But the reason that I bring it up here today is because we’re talking about a young female artist who is in the country genre who is singing about same-sex marriage, couples- same-sex couples, same-sex marriage, and she’s singing about it in a completely non- what is the right word? Just kind of like a nonchalant way; like she’s just singing- it’s very matter of fact. And what I think is really interesting about this- and I’ll read you, let’s see, let’s find a quote. So here’s just one of the lines and mind you it’s got a whole bunch of other references to it, but it includes the same-sex piece. But it says, “If you save yourself for marriage, you’re a bore. If you don’t save yourself for marriage you’re a horrible person. Make lots of noise, kiss lots of boys, or kiss lots of girls if that’s what you’re into. When the straight and narrow get a little too straight, roll up a joint or don’t. If you don’t go to church you’ll go to hell, if you’re the first one on the front row you’re a self-righteous son of a-” and it’s dot, dot, dot. So clearly I didn’t just sing that, I was just reading those lyrics out. But definitely check out the song because it’s actually a little bit catchy.

But essentially she’s just kind of throwing in there like, ‘Kiss lots of boys, or kiss lots of girls if that’s what you’re into.’ And she makes it completely a non-issue, and I found an interview that was talking with her and she said that at first she thought there was going to be a lot of backlash to singing this because there’s a lot of people in the south that she knows don’t necessarily agree with the things that she’s singing about, not just LGBT and the same-sex couples, but moreso talking about church and talking about drugs and all that kind of stuff. She said but there’s been actually a lot less criticism toward the song than she imagined. Even if they don’t agree with kissing girls, or even the drug reference, I would hope that they would agree that no matter what, we should all be able to love who we want and live how we want to live.

So I think this was really important because a couple of other interviews that I had seen and read all kind of pointed to the fact that she wasn’t necessarily creating this to be something that’s all hyped up, it was just kind of her music, she wasn’t trying to make a statement with it, and she’s just kind of haphazardly made a statement. And now she’s just talking about it and how to her it’s a non-issue. So I wanted to bring this one up, and it’s because of the fact that she’s a country singer, this song that includes anything you know related to same-sex couples, and she won the best country song and best country album of the year at the Grammy’s. So to me it’s somewhat showing some kind of shift in country music because if you notoriously look at all genres, country music always seems to be a step behind in progressiveness. And again, this is just- you know these are all just my opinions. But I think that- and there’s a couple of articles that back up that opinion. But it’s just- it’s impressive to see that in 2014 there can be someone who wins best country song on a song that is including LGBT people in a non-issue type of way.

So that is number two of what has happened, two of eight, of what’s been happening over the last three weeks or so. So this is crazy, and it just keeps getting a little bit crazier. And most of the things that we talk about, that I’m going to be talking about, are positive although I’m going to go down a somewhat dark road for a few minutes because if I didn’t, I would be completely remised. So we will get there shortly.

Number three:

Next one happened on February 2nd, and this one was interesting and this was the day of the Superbowl. And if you pay any attention to the news, to media, to social media, whatever it happens to be, you undoubtedly know of the Coca Cola commercial that aired. The America the Beautiful commercial. There was a- I want to say a ridiculous amount of outrage and outcry of people all across the United States who were pissed off that Coke would include people of every race, of every ethnicity, of every language in a commercial for Coca Cola that’s celebrating America being beautiful. Honestly, I’m sometimes disgusted by the people around me and the country in which we live. Because if you look at the United States, we are a mosaic of so many different cultures that to me, I think Coca Cola did an amazing thing because they went out and they literally sung America the Beautiful in every language that’s spoken in the United States. It included people that represent every facet of the United States. So I think they did a really amazing job.

So while there were a ton of haters for this commercial, I don’t know if there’s equal amounts of support, I would imagine that we probably just heard more of the negative than we heard the positive because that’s just how the media works. But at any rate, it was really interesting that while everybody’s all pissed off about America the Beautiful being in different languages, and oh blah, blah, blah, blah; what nobody was really paying attention to other than possibly the LGBT community, is the fact that that Coke ad had a gay family included in that commercial. So what’s beautiful about that is number one, that Coke is the one who introduces this gay family into a Superbowl ad, and previously that has not been done. So this was a ground-breaking first that there was a gay family included in a Superbowl ad. So I think that this kind of shows to the degree of progress that we’re making. So I know in a lot of instances we feel like we’re not making any progress towards equality, but Coke did this and they did it in such a subtle way. I mean so subtle- and I’m not lying here, that I had to watch the commercial three times, and I’m not kidding. So I’m watching the Superbowl with my wife, and she watches it for the game, I watch it for the commercials, and we’re just sitting there and the Coke commercial comes up and I just feel like when I was watching it I was really kind of sucked into it because I just thought it was really beautifully done. And so we’re both watching it, neither of us say anything about it because neither of us see the gay family. Then she’s on Facebook on her phone and sees a post from a friend of hers that says, “Coca Cola introduces the first gay family in a Superbowl ad,” and we’re looking at each other like, “What?” So we pull it up on her phone and we’re watching it and literally still don’t see the gay family. Like we are actually looking for the gay family at this point and still don’t see it. So then I pull it up on my phone and that’s when we actually saw it, it was actually three times it took for us to see the fact that there were two men with a daughter, that they were roller skating.

I don’t know how we missed it honestly the first two times, but it just kind of goes to show what inclusion based marketing truly looks like. And I have talked about inclusion based marketing on my blog, and on this podcast. There’s an episode from sometime last year, and I’ll include a link to that in today’s show notes. But it talks about what inclusion based marketing really is. And to me this Coke commercial defines what that is, because we’re talking about America the Beautiful which is just a mosaic of what America is made of, and Coke put an LGBT family in there because guess what? LGBT families are a part of America. So- and they did it in a subtle way, you didn’t see any- and like not a press release that went out saying, ‘Coke introduces a gay family, yay go us!’ They did it in a really, really subtle low-key way which to me makes it all the more strong because they didn’t feel the need to go out and start banging on their chest saying, “Hey look what we did, we included gays in our commercial.” So I think that Coke really did it in a very, very classy way.

Here’s a little fun fact…

And before we move on to the next one I want to give you a little fun fact. So for those who did notice that the LGBT people were in the commercial, which there were plenty if you are on Twitter. The song America the Beautiful was actually written by a woman who was a lesbian back in 1893. So I thought that that was a fun little tidbit that you know, people are all upset about this- about America being represented in all these different ways, and come to find out a lesbian wrote it in the 1800’s. So that’s kind of a fun little note.

Commercial break..

And before we get into number four- because number four is where it gets a little bit heavy, I want to just go to our commercial for the sponsors of this podcast which is www.MentalCompass.com. So take a moment and listen to what Mike has to say and I will be right back.

Alright, thank you Michael and www.MentalCompass.com. Just a fun little side note, they have just released their own online training course, if you recall I have my own course which you can certainly check out at www.AuthenticGayMarketing.com, there’s a couple of free videos as a teaser as to what you’ll get out of the course. But Mike and Maria just launched theirs I think this past week. So I wish them luck and I would definitely encourage you to check them out. If you happen to be in the insurance industry, that’s kind of where they’re focusing right now. But I believe their website is called www.HowToBeAHighPerformanceInsuranceBroker.com or www.HighPerformanceInsuranceBroker.com, or something to that effect. If you Google it you’ll definitely find them. But they have- their course is great, I’ve already had a look at it and it has tons of information about how to just be a better insurance person, but as I say about their podcast all the time, while their focus is on insurance typically, there are so much information for anybody in terms of just wanting to be a better version of yourself. So definitely check them out when you have a moment.

Number 4:

So let’s see, alright. I have a handful of other topics to cover and we’re already probably about halfway into the episode, so I’m going to attempt to cover these in enough detail that you get something valuable out of it, but not go down too many rabbit holes which I do have a tendency of doing.

We’re taking a slight shift..

So the next thing that I want to talk about is going to be the Debbie Downer of all of these, and then we’re going to come out of the hole and go back up into the positive. So I want to talk about the Olympics. And the Olympics are an amazing time that only happen every four years for the winter, every four years for the summer. And I happen to be a big fan of the Olympics, I feel like there’s just something inspiring about all of these athletes who have been training for their entire lives for this one moment and this one chance to bring home a medal for their country. So the reason I’m bringing this up is that as you know the Olympics are being held in Russia. And Russian law happens to be horribly, horribly horrific for the LGBT community. So when this was all- when before the Olympics started, there was a lot of talk about the backlash of companies that are sponsoring the Olympics because by them sponsoring the Olympics they are in essence sponsoring Russia, which has all sorts of anti-LGBT law. And they have a law that outlaws ‘homosexual propaganda,’ and that’s in quotes, I just air-quoted that for you. And basically it’s- like I feel like I’m at a loss for words because it’s so horrible and so horrifying what’s happening in Russia right now. But there’s a documentary that came out from a UK- somewhere in the UK called ‘Hunted.’ And it’s about 45 minutes long and I don’t even think that there’s access to the video tube anymore, I think it was already pulled down. But I had found- I had somebody on Twitter send me a link of it on YouTube and it was about a 45 minute documentary. And essentially what it did was it showed that there are vigilante type of groups in Russia that are condoned essentially by the Russian government to go out and hunt and kill anybody who’s gay. And you may be thinking that this sounds a little bit harsh and a little bit drastic and it can’t possibly be true, but the sad reality is that it is true. And so in Russia it’s not safe to be gay in any way, shape or form. If you are out you are hunted down and you can be beaten to near death, or to death, and the Russian government isn’t going to do anything about it; they actually support this type of behavior.

So there’s a whole host of things that have been happening as it relates to the Olympics with that being the underlying premise. So of course you have all of these openly LGBT athletes of all the different countries that are there, and I’ve seen a couple of athletes do their own marks of protest by having rainbow gloves and kind of just shoving the rainbow in front of the camera when they get a chance, or even if we think of President Obama and what he sent over a- I’m trying to think of what they call it. Like a constituency of folks over, his delegates. He sent over as part of his delegation to the Olympics a whole bunch of athletes and a handful of them are openly gay. So it was kind of Obama’s way of saying, “This is how Russia feels, this is not how the US feels.”

So it’s been really interesting, and I know a lot of people who are boycotting the Olympics and I will have to admit that I struggled with whether or not I was going to do that. I truly wanted to just say, “You know what? The hell with the Olympics, I don’t need to pay attention to this, I don’t need to watch this, I don’t need to support- I don’t need to support Russia and all their anti-gay propaganda.” But at the same time, I feel like there’s an equal obligation to be supporting all of those LGBT athletes that are out there trying to win a medal for their country. So I have been partially watching, I am not a diehard, but I have been watching. And you know, I know a lot of people who are not and I totally respect that opinion and I hope that my opinion is- you know my vantage point here is respected as well. But it’s been a really trying time, this whole Olympic Games and pre- what was happening before the Olympics started, and all that kind of stuff. So I want to bring this to a level of business so you understand the impact of what a corporation or even a small business, the type of impact that one can have.

A couple things to talk about…

So there’s two things that I want to talk about. The number one thing here is AT&T decided that they were going to condemn the anti-LGBT laws in Russia to set an example for other Olympics sponsors. So on February 4th, and I’m going to read just a little snippet from a press release and I’ll have a link to this press release in the blog as well. But it says, ‘Today AT&T became the first major US corporation to make a public statement condemning the anti-LGBT Russian law outlawing homosexual propaganda. Since the passage of the law last June, the Russian LGBT community has been targeted with violence, harassment, bomb threats and limitations on its freedom of speech and assembly. The HRC called on corporate sponsors of the International Olympic Committee to condemn the dangerous law. In spite of the fact that it is not an IOC corporate sponsor, AT&T heeded HRC’s call to stand with LGBT Russian’s inequality supporters all over the world. The HRC president Chad Griffin issued the following statement.’ And I’m just going to read a small piece of it. “Today AT&T courageously recommitted itself to fairness, equality, and basic human rights. AT&T should be recognized for showing true leadership in opposing this hateful Russian law, and other sponsors that have failed to lead should take corrective action immediately. A company that claims to support LGBT equality should do so wherever it operates, not just in the United States. And we call on all Olympic sponsors to follow AT&T’s lead and publicly denounce Russia’s anti-LGBT law.”

So this is what AT&T has done. So AT&T has basically set the standard of ‘We as a US corporation can make a stand and say this is not okay.’ The problem here is that the rest of the sponsors did not follow suit, or have not yet followed suit. And now we’re almost all the way through the Olympics. So I don’t really know what’s going to happen with that. But one of the things, one of the other sponsors that really got into a world of trouble, or world of hurt, is McDonalds. So this is why I’m bringing- this also part of the reason why I’m bringing this up. So while a handful of other sponsors did not follow suit in publicly denouncing the Russian law, McDonalds is the one who for what I can see has been the one that’s probably had the biggest impact in a negative way. Because McDonalds put together a Cheers to Sochi campaign which was a social media related campaign using the #CheersToSochi, so you can use the hashtag on Facebook, you can use it on Twitter. And what is pretty- to me it’s a little bit entertaining with how much power that the people have versus the advertisers have. Is that McDonalds probably spent millions and millions and millions of dollars putting together this Cheers to Sochi that has the hashtag appearing in commercials, on billboards, in print advertisements; you name it, this hashtag is all over the place.

Now if you go to Twitter right now, and I did not do this but if- you know what I’m going to do it while I’m talking to you. I will pull up Twitter, and if I put in Cheers to Sochi, what you’re going to find is a ridiculous amount of tweets that have nothing to do with Cheers to Sochi, but rather everything to do with how bad Russia is for LGBT people. So let’s see, Cheers to Sochi. Okay I’m just going to read you the top couple of tweets.

So number one, ‘New book on Russian gay propaganda tells stories of those persecuted for who they love.’ ‘Why do you not remove videos promoting anti-gay attacks, racism and violence?’ ‘Please help support for LGBT during Sochi 2014.’ Then there’s a handful of pictures of people with protest signs, there’s a couple of rainbow flags that say ‘Sochi 2014.’ This one is ‘Poverty and obesity now with a serving of hate. Don’t support companies who do not support you, Cheers to Sochi.’ And let’s see, there’s a couple of other ones that are irrelevant but they’re not- the purpose of the hashtag was to be promoting and talking about how great, you know Cheers to Sochi, cheers to our athletes who are out there doing good in the world. And so there’s one here, ‘Is there no violation of basic human rights? The soullessness and pathetic Olympic committee won’t defend.’ And then the last one I’ll read is, ‘Rihanna does more to speak out against bigoted Olympics with tweets than all sponsors combined.’

So that is what you would find on Twitter at this very moment. So I guarantee if you go over to Twitter yourself, you’re going to have the same exact thing come up. So the reason for bringing this up is to outline how tumultuous of a climate we’re still in, even though all the other things I’ve been talking about have been so great in terms of progress and progression, and all the great things that are happening for LGBT; there are still parts of this world where you can be killed legally under law for being gay, and Russia is just one country of many, many, many countries where that is possible right now. And it’s absolutely unfortunate and it’s an opportunity for companies like AT&T who are verbally condemning this from happening to say, “Hey you know what? Thank you AT&T for caring about the community outside of the US. You care about the LGBT community internationally, globally.” And now because AT&T is doing that, that’s giving them a competitive advantage. Versus McDonalds who doesn’t seem to give a shit at all, you know that’s not going to help them at all but again, they’re McDonalds so- like I guess how many people are boycotting McDonalds? I actually wonder that myself. I personally don’t eat there, but I’m sure there’s plenty of people who do. So I’m sure that there’s probably boycotts of all of these sponsors on some level.

So you just have to be- you have to be picky, and you have to be particular with where you’re putting your support, where you’re putting your time and if you are in a place of influence, you should absolutely be using it; whether you are a small business, or are with a large company, there are ways that you as one person can make an impact and make a difference.

So as I said, that was going to be kind of our Debbie Downer type of moment, but I do have four- let’s see, one, two, three, four more examples that will be much more positive. And I have about fifteen minutes to get through them so I’m going to just kind of buzz through a couple of them and spend more time on another one.

Number 5:

So the next one that I want to talk about is that on February 8th, the Attorney General extends a commitment to equality for married same-sex couples. So I don’t know if you saw this or not, but again there’s a link to a New York Times article that will be on the blog that you can read for more details. So basically on February 8th, the federal government made an announcement that it will soon treat marriage same-sex couples the same as heterosexual couples when they file for bankruptcy, testify in court, or visit family in prison. So this was really, really, really big news because- and this is a quote directly from Attorney General Holder. “In every court house, in every proceeding, and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States, they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections and rights as opposite-sex marriages.”

So these changes were set in motion last year when the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional to refuse federal benefits to married same-sex couples. So this is just kind of another- a note that I just want to make, that we have people as part of the Obama Administration who are going out of their way to make sure that they are including and having a commitment to equality. I think that they- it’s probably well-documented that they have a commitment to equality. So it’s nice to see that now in any situation where somebody is representing the Department of Justice, that they’re going to go out of their way to make sure that same-sex couples- same-sex married couples have the same benefits as heterosexual couples which I think is totally awesome, and was really, really big news.

So that was on February 8th, so you can see how close all of these things are happening. I’m talking January 26th, February 2nd, February 4, February 8th; now we’re on to February 10th, then will be 13th, and 14th. So all of this is happening all at the same time, it’s almost mind-boggling how much information is out there.

So and this is just a sampling, there’s so much other stuff that I could have talked about here, but this is just a sampling that I thought would be relevant to show the diversity of what’s happening in the different types of industries, but then also how this has an impact on marketing and business and all that stuff.

Number 6:

So now the next one that I want to talk about is Michael Sam, who could possibly be the first openly gay NFL player. So Michael was the All-American Defensive Lineman from Missouri this last year, and when the NFL draft pick comes around I know that prior to him coming out they were talking about him being a first round draft pick. And him now coming out has definitely put an interesting spin on things because in professional sports, there are very, very few openly gay people and there has not been one in the NFL. So there is an interview on ESPN that I believe it’s titled ‘Michael Sam Comes Out as Gay,’ or something like that. But I’m going to include a link in the blog post, the show notes here, and I would really encourage you to watch that interview. It’s about eight minutes long, it’s a video, and it’s an interview with him that he’s talking about his decision to share his own truth, to come out as gay, how he came out as gay to his team in Missouri, and how it wasn’t a big deal for them, and how he’s going to handle what he thinks is going to come his way when he gets picked in the NFL, et cetera, et cetera.

So it is a really fascinating interview, but I just want to point out that we have the first openly gay possible future- you know the pick hasn’t happened yet, NFL player. This is absolutely huge, huge news. So again, we’re going from the Disney Channel, to country music, to Superbowl, to the Olympics, to openly gay NFL player. Like there is some significant diversity happening across the board.

So the other two that I want to talk about, and I told you this was going to kind of skip around and be a lot of information, but I think it’s going to be a good rundown for you to have a better understanding of what can happen in a matter of a couple weeks. So good thing we’re not bears and hibernate because Lord knows we’d pop out of wherever bears are- in trees, holes, wherever they happen to be, caves. We would come out of the ground of the winter and be completely confused as to what the hell has just happened. So it’s a good thing that we have social media, and we have the web so we can always be up to date on things. But at the same time it can be totally overwhelming because there’s just so much information out there.

Number 7:

So now I want to share with you that on February 13th, Facebook goes beyond male and female with new gender options. And again, I have a link to a CNN article that is on the show notes of this podcast, so that way you can head over there and read more information. But it is really, really exciting that Facebook has done this. So Facebook has a pretty- from what I have read and seen, a pretty progressive diversity initiatives, they have a really cool Chief Diversity Officer, and it only seemed like it’s a matter of time before they came out with this. So if you recall, you had an option for choosing what kind of a relationship you are in, I think it was referred to as ‘It’s complicated.’ So now it’s basically, you know not having- because gender is complicated. There’s too many people who think that gender is strictly male and strictly female, and that couldn’t be any further from the truth. So it’s nice to see that Facebook has added- and it has fifty, and I’m not lying here, fifty additional options that people can choose for their gender. So they can choose transgender, which is amazing, they can choose cisgender, gender fluid, intersex, neither. And so it really allows for users to really feel comfortable and be themselves while connecting on Facebook. Because ultimately Facebook is an expression of yourself, so it would only make sense that you can actually express yourself in the best way possible.

So I know a couple of trans folks who I saw struggling with the- with having to box themselves in to ‘he’ or ‘she,’ or ‘his’ or ‘her,’ because of just Facebook not having that feature. So I can think of a handful of people that I know in particular who are going to be very pleased by this change. And another great thing is that users have the ability to choose what pronoun that they want to be referred as. And I have a couple of blog posts on my website that talk about the pronoun game, and talk about how important pronouns are. But there are a lot of people who don’t want to be referred to as ‘he’ or ‘she,’ or ‘his or her.’ They would actually prefer a gender neutral pronoun like ‘they’ or ‘they’re.’ So Facebook now allows you to have that option. So if I am on Facebook and I have it down as female, maybe I have it as transgender female, and I don’t want to be referred to as she, I want to be referred to as ‘they’ or ‘they’re.’ I now have that control. So Facebook really kind of went out and really did this what appears to be in a really, really authentic and genuine way, because they even made an announcement on their diversity page that they worked with leading groups- leading LGBT groups and advocacy organizations to come up with these new gender categories. So it’s not like they were guessing, but they were advised and gathering data from groups who are doing this day in and day out.

So that was really exciting to see, and again that was just on February 13th, so it was only like a week ago. It’s crazy what has been happening, I’m going to keep saying this over and over again, how crazy fast things are moving.

And finally, number 8:

So finally, so here’s number eight. And so we’ve covered a whole array of things, and number eight I want to end on a really- I think a happy note, is that Ellen Page came out on February 14th at the HRC’s inaugural Time to Thrive Conference. So this is the first time that HRC- and I keep saying HRC, I’ve said it actually a couple times in this episode, but is the Human Rights Campaign. So if you want more information about them, go to my website, there’s information all over the place as to who they are and what they do. But essentially they’re a large LGBT advocacy organization. And they had their first conference that just happened in Las Vegas, and I think it was like February 14th to the 16th. So what it looks like is that Ellen Page was the opening keynote for the conference. So this is another scenario where I strongly encourage you to go watch the video for this. It’s about eight minutes long and it’s just incredible. She’s about 26 years old I think, and you can just hear the nerves in her voice. You can hear her voice shaking, she’s talking about just her message of hope and thankfulness for all of the folks in the room who do this on an ongoing basis, and who are out there fighting for equality for young LGBT folks. And she actually comes out, I would say it’s probably about six minutes into her eight and a half minute speech. And she just does it in such an authentic vulnerable way in front of a really large supportive group of people. And one of the things that she said in there was that she’s tired of lying by omission, and I thought that this was really interesting, and I wanted to bring it up because I think this may be something that from a business perspective and a marketing perspective of doing business with the LGBT community, oftentimes people are lying by omission because you- and it comes back to not making assumptions, but if you come at me making an assumption that I have a boyfriend or I have a husband, and I don’t, I can lie by omission and just kind of skirt the fact that you said ‘he’ when clearly it should be ‘she.’ Or you know, just kind of skip over the fact that you said ‘husband,’ and just answer your question without actually saying ‘he’ in return. And Lord knows I think every LGBT person probably has a significant amount of experience doing this, myself included.

So I thought that that was just kind of an interesting point that she brought up, that I think at some point I will probably create an entire blog post around, because I think it’s really important to recognize that as it relates to a business setting. Because you don’t want to put people in a position where they have to lie by omission. Or they don’t feel comfortable enough to be honest with you. So that’s probably going to be a blog post to come.

So I- while I was looking for information on Ellen Page, I found an article on Huffington Post, and again this will be in the show notes of this podcast episode. But the title is ‘Why it Matters Who Ellen Page Loves.’ And one of the paragraphs that just kind of popped out really strongly for me, was when Ellen DeGeneres came out as a lesbian in 1997, she said she did it neither to be the lesbian actress, nor to be a spokesperson for all things gay. She did it for her own truth. Just as I imagine Rosa Parks wasn’t looking to forge a new era of freedom in equality when she refused to give up her seat on that Montgomery city bus on her way home from work in 1955.

So I kind of want to end on that note because it’s not a matter of people coming out seemingly left and right these days, to come out and make a statement or take a stand on LGBT, but if you listen to Ellen Page’s coming out speech, she sums it up so well where she’s just talking about the fact that she’s not doing it for other people, but she has to do it for herself. Michael Sam’s video when he’s talking about being openly gay in the NFL, he says the exact same thing; he’s doing it for his own truth and for no one else’s. He needs to be able to be the one that’s owning that, and that’s not something that anyone else can take away.

So I know that in many, many instances that the LGBT movement has been referred to the civil rights movement of our generation, I think the author of that Huff Post article did a really- a really interesting job of kind of making that comparison between Ellen coming out and Rosa Parks coming out; which for some you may be thinking how can you even make that comparison? But honestly I think it’s a pretty good comparison.

In Conclusion…

So that basically wraps up my eight things that have been happening in the last three weeks that are just insanely positive for the most part, sans the Olympics, that are just happening on an ongoing basis for the LGBT community. We are just making such strong strides, seemingly on a daily basis that I am excited as always to see what’s to come, and I’m grateful that you listen to this podcast because ultimately what I want for you to take out of today’s episode is to understand that the LGBT landscape is changing at a rapid rate, and because of that rapid pace change, marketing is going to have to be changing just as quickly. And I have been talking about inclusion-based marketing for years at this point. So knowing that you need to take an inclusion-based route, which is something that I’ve been talking to you about all this whole time, I think is important for you to take away and just think about how you can be inclusive of LGBT people in your marketing as it stands today.

One last thing to mention…

And one thing that I am going to mention is that I have another sponsor of this podcast, which is Teazled, the greeting card company, and they have been sponsors for the last couple of podcasts now. But they are an LGBT greeting card company, and this kind of goes back to that whole inclusion-based marketing approach where if you’re looking to give a- oh Valentine’s Day just passed. Here’s a prime example, I have been making my own Valentine’s Day cards for eons. And it’s because I can never find one that does what I want it to do. So I was in Target looking for a Valentine’s Day card for my wife, and there are plenty of them out there that just say ‘Wife’ on them, and they’re kind of nondescript so they might work. But most of them have animals on them. So there’s turtles, there’s bunnies, there’s squirrels; you name it and always one has like eyelashes and one has a tie. So you can tell which gender each animal is supposed to be. So that rules out 99% of the cards available for me to purchase for my wife on Valentine’s Day. So again, I just make my own. But there are companies like Teazled- and I can’t even say companies, there is a company, Teazled, that has LGBT specific greeting cards. So if you are LGBT and you are just looking for a way to give your spouse a card that actually has a meaningful message, go there. If you are an ally to the community who needs a card because you’re attending someone’s wedding, or you’re sending a thank you note, or you’re sending a Happy Thanksgiving- I don’t even know what it could be. Know that there are LGBT-specific cards available for you. So you should definitely go check them out. I’m definitely going to have the owners which are both named Dina, I call them Dina squared, they will be on the show hopefully as a guest in the next couple of months I would say. But definitely go check them out; so you can go to my website which is www.JennTGrace.com/cards and that will redirect you and send you over to their website.

So that is all I have for today, I hope you enjoyed the show and as always feel free to leave a comment in the comments section, hit me up on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, you name it, send me an email. I’m always happy to hear from you and I love interacting with you, I love engaging with you, so if you have something to say or you want me to talk about something in particular, just let me know, I’m happy to do it.

So thanks again for listening and I will talk to you on the next episode.

About Jenn T. Grace

Jenn T. Grace (she/her/hers) is an award-winning author and founder and CEO of Publish Your Purpose (PYP), the acclaimed hybrid publisher of non-fiction books. Jenn has published 100+ books written by thought leaders, visionaries, and entrepreneurs who are striving to make a difference. Jenn T. Grace’s work elevates and amplifies the voices of others—especially marginalized groups who are regularly excluded from traditional publishing.

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