Beyond Rainbow Washing: Authentic LGBTQ+ Allyship in Communications and Marketing

June 28, 2022 Lauren Pescatore

During the month of June, an increasing number of brands update their logos with rainbow depictions and develop fresh taglines to signify their support of the LGBTQ+ community and Pride month.

While it’s a promising reflection of a society that is slowly becoming more inclusive, if a month of rainbow branding isn’t accompanied by a year-round commitment to allyship, it runs the risk of being performative.

PFLAG’s guide to being a straight ally offers advice in practicing authentic allyship for communications and marketing firms:

  • Use inclusive language: As much as possible, use gender-neutral terms in your communications such as “partner” or “spouse” in place of “boyfriend/husband” and “girlfriend/wife.” When communicating about someone in the third person, never assume their gender unless it’s been explicitly stated. As PFLAG states, “the terms associated with the LGBTQ+ community are vast, important, and evolve rapidly,” and it will require effort on your part to stay informed of inclusive terminology. A good place to start is PFLAG’s regularly updated equality literacy 101 glossary.
  • Be intentional about representation: Include LGBTQ+ individuals and families in your marketing with an emphasis on accurate, positive, and appropriate representation that will make a lasting impact. Center LGBTQ+ voices in any internal conversations about how to market to or about the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Remember that allyship is a journey, not a destination: Don’t wait to start practicing allyship until you feel like you know everything because, chances are, you never will. Accept that you’ll likely make a mistake along the way. Be prepared to apologize, ask for guidance, and continue your learning journey. Listen first before speaking. As PFLAG says, “Constantly keep your eyes, mind, and heart open to learning more and knowing that just when you think you’ve learned it all, the conversation changes.”

At Hatcher, allyship is woven throughout our work and workplace. We place great importance on ensuring that our entire team feels a sense of worth within our organization, is recognized for the unique contributions and perspectives they bring, and finds fulfillment in working within an inclusive, accepting, and inviting workplace.

For more resources on authentic allyship from PFLAG and its partners, visit: