Watch Your Language When Approaching the LGBT Market

Share this content:
Watch Your Language When Approaching the LGBT Market
Watch Your Language When Approaching the LGBT Market

When talking about a community where being “out” is “in,” it's no wonder marketers can sometimes get the language wrong, especially when acceptable terms change quickly as awareness of LGBT issues evolves. Even gay and lesbian people are sometimes confused about which word or phrase is the best choice in 2013. So before you or your CEO speaks to a reporter about that new ad or TV spot, or about how diversity awareness has become part of your brand, here's what you should know:

 Out In Why

“Sexual Preference”

“Sexual Orientation"

Apartment living is a lifestyle. Being gay isn't. The terms “lifestyle” and "preference” imply a choice, which is a sensitive issue to gay people
who do not see their sexuality as something that was optional.



There is a lot of discussion about being “tolerant” of gay people, but
that term is starting to strike a sour note with LGBT people and supportive progressives who believe it sounds judgmental more than inclusive. Do you “tolerate” someone you respect and want to know better? Or do you simply accept them for who they are?

referring to
a legally
wed person)

“Husband”/  “Wife”

Not everyone is comfortable with what to call the spouse of a gay
person, both legally married and not. Even the Associated Press got itself into hot water by announcing an editorial policy that they
would NOT use the words “husband” and “wife” to describe legally
wed gay people. A backlash from their own reporters as well as gay groups made them reverse that decision. Progressive brands
recognize that these words do apply to gay marriages today.



The term has evolved as understanding of transgender people has
become more educated. The change to using “transgender” points
out that one's gender is not about sexuality, which is a separate factor. Some of today's ads creating the most controversy are ones that
have unintentionally offended transgendered Americans.

“GLBT” or “Queer”


“LGBT” or
“Gay &

In a 2012 Community Marketing Inc. survey, LGBT consumers chose “LGBT” and “gay and lesbian” as the most preferred terms for referring
to the community as a whole. Although other classifications are being included in some circles, making the acronym LGBTQ or LGBTQIA,
these are not widely used yet and even some members
of the community do not fully understand their meaning. But stay
tuned. Terminology changes as laws, rights, and sensitivities evolve.

so gay!”


Sadly this phrase has worked its way into the vernacular of some
younger Americans, but it's not okay. No matter how many times or
in what context it's used, it can't be divorced from its origins of
equating “gay” with “uncool” and it is offensive to most gay people. What's really in is respect: respect for diversity and for all people no matter how different from us they may be. Brands are catching on as enlightened kids once again are leading the charge to a better understanding by ditching this dated and hateful phrase.

Brad Fuller is US managing director at full-service marketing agency RIVET Global. A 20+ year marketing industry veteran, he has worked at numerous agencies, including Momentum, Glennon, and Zipatoni. His client experience covers a broad spectrum of accounts in categories from CPG to QSR, including financial services, soft drinks, hardware, beer, and baby products.

DMNotes is DMN's around-the-clock blog. Yes, a blog in 2016.

Bookmark this section and follow our RSS Feed here


Next Article in Marketing Strategy

Sign up to our newsletters

Company of the Week

Since 1985, Melissa has helped thousands of companies clean, correct and complete contact data to better target and communicate with their customers. We offer a full spectrum of data quality solutions, including global address, phone, email, and name validation, identify verification - available for batch or real-time processes, in the Cloud or on-premise. Our service bureau provides dedupe, email/phone append and geographic/demographic append services for better targeting and insight. For direct mailers, Melissa offers easy-to-use address management/postal software, list hygiene services and 100s of specialty mailing lists - all with competitive pricing and excellent customer service.

Find out more here »

Career Center

Check out hundreds of exciting professional opportunities available on DMN's Career Center.  
Explore careers in digital marketing, sales, eCommerce, marketing communications, IT, data strategies, and much more. And don't forget to update your resume so employers can contact you privately about job opportunities.

>>Click Here

Relive the 2017 Marketing Hall of Femme

Click the image above