Working With LGBT Clients

Working With LGBT Clients

This month, on Thursday, September 6th, India’s top court overturned a 157-year-old law criminalizing gay sex in a landmark victory for gay rights in the world’s largest democracy. “It is difficult to right the wrong of history, but we can certainly set the course for the future,” said Justice Dhananjaya Chandrachud. The judgement reflects rapid social change in India, where the same law was upheld only 5 years ago – Washington Post


That said, with rapid social change happening all over the world, businesses will certainly be starting to take notice of the value of working with the LGBT community. Here’s a few of the top benefits of being inclusive and supportive of LGBT customers:

1. We Spend More. Economic Market Surveys over the last decade shows LGBT customers to have a higher income than the average of society, and more importantly, we spend comparatively more money on certain products and services. (A 2011 study conducted by the City of Philadelphia noted that the LGBT community spent an average of 57% more than other travelers in 2011.)

2. We Tend to Be Trend Setters and Early Adopters. LGBT customers tend to be more adventurous and enthusiastic to new trends. Which means we are more likely to be open to that new idea you want to try. Also, by winning gays as customers, companies could get easier access to other groups of society as well.

3. We Represent Loyalty in Growing Numbers. LGBT customers, which are growing in number as policies change and equality laws are being enforced, are known to be fiercely loyal to businesses that support the LGBT community. In National Election Poll’s exit poll in 2016, 5.4% of respondents identified as LGBT, which is nearly double from the 2.7% reported in 2008. A 2011 survey done by Harris Interactive found that Brand Loyalty is more important than product cost in many situations. According to this survey, 71 % of LGBT people are more likely to stay loyal to a brand when they believe that it is friendly and supportive to the community even when a less friendly company offers the same quality for a lower price.

It should be very clear to anyone paying attention that the LGBT segment of the market is an already large and rapidly growing community of more open-minded customers who are more loyal and spend notably more money on things like leisure than other customers who are not LGBT

So let’s talk about working with LGBT customers as a market segment, as over the course of my career, I’ve encountered several clients who want my LGBT following’s money, but don’t want to do anything to help them feel welcomed or supported. That’s not ok. If you truly are looking to extend your business into the gay community, let’s look at a few ways to do it.


How to Attract LGBT Audience To Your Venue

1. Make sure that your business is actually gay friendly in it’s policies and practices. If your company is not willing to be Gay Inclusive in it’s practices, then it shouldn’t be marketing to the Gay community. It’s hypocritical to try to get our money if your business is not actually supportive of our community and our equality. That said, making sure you have Gay Friendly policies in place that allow equality and support for openly Gay Employees is a good place to start.

2. Treat Us Like Any Other Client. If you don’t make a sour look when you see a straight couple walk in, you shouldn’t be making a sour look when you see a gay couple do the same. We want to feel welcome to be ourselves while enjoying ourselves in your establishment without judgment. You don’t need to stereotype up the place with rainbows and glitter (though both are quite fun!) Just treat us with the same kindness and respect that you extend to your other clients.

3. Show Concrete Support. Understand that including us means you need to do something to show us that you are inclusive. Just because your business doesn’t turn us away at the door, it doesn’t mean we know we are welcome. You’ll want to do something to show concrete support. Some venues do this by having an LGBT night or a monthly Drag Show. Other companies do this by providing sponsorship at major LGBT events like St Pete Pride or Come Out St Pete! Either way, simply having your doors open to everyone is not enough to let us know that we are welcome. You know what they say, “When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one.” Don’t be afraid to make a bold move to show us that we are welcome. Note: Your business can be Gay inclusive without branding itself as Gay exclusive.

4. If You Build It, They Will Come. Simply put, when it comes to nightlife and leisure, gay people want to go where other gay people are. If you put an event in place that caters to the LGBT community, market it in a genuine way, and are honestly supportive and happy for our business by creating an atmosphere that exemplifies that, we will come. We’ve got a very loyal and tight-nit community where word of mouth holds a lot of weight. Get a few LGBT patrons in and enjoying themselves at a recurring LGBT focused event, and I guarantee that you’ll see an increase in LGBT patrons to your business within a very short period of time.

Similar questions may arise for businesses providing services, like my own mobile DJ service, around how to work with an LGBT client when you yourself are not LGBT. Again, allow me to share a few simple tips.


How To Work With an LGBT Client When You’re Not LGBT

1. Treat Us Like Any Other Client. It really is that simple. We want to be treated with the same kindness, courtesy, professionalism, and respect that you’d extend to your other clients. If you’re a DJ or a Photographer shooting for an LGBT Wedding or LGBT Event, you’ll want keep in mind that we aren’t looking for special treatment. We simply want to work with businesses that accept us as we are and are willing to work with us without judgement.

2. But Be Mindful of the Subtle Differences. Going back to the Wedding Example, as a DJ, I always confirm with my couple how they want to be introduced. Obviously the standard “Please welcome Mr. and Mrs….” won’t work. Being careful about replacing things like “Bride and Groom” with “The Brides” or “The Grooms”, or in some cases, this requires being mindful of pronouns that correlate with how your client self identifies. These are small but important differences that a professional should keep in mind.

3. Do NOT (I Repeat DO NOT) take on an LGBT client if you have moral issues with LGBT people. The most important recommendation I can give is that you do not take on an LGBT client if you personally have an issue with LGBT lifestyle. I’m sure you don’t want to pay for your vendors to be silently judging you as they carry out your event. We don’t want to experience that either. While everyone wants to make money, and there’s plenty of work to go around in the LGBT community, if you don’t feel comfortable with us or our lifestyle, that energy will come through in your performance and interaction with us. I’m not saying that you NEED to be accepting of LGBT people or that you’re wrong if you choose that you are not comfortable with us. I’m asking you to take a hard look inside yourself about where your tolerance is around the LGBT community, and then make choices to service clients that are aligned with those feelings. This is also probably the single biggest concern from an LGBT client looking to book a vendor.

In a perfect world everyone would love everyone and an individual’s sexual preference wouldn’t matter if you weren’t yourself looking to sleep with that person. In the real world there’s contrast and and differences of morals, values, and opinions. Where you stand is where you stand. Just be very clear where that is with regard to the LGBT community and why. Being honest with yourself and who you want to work with and why is the first step.

The biggest take away for venues looking to attract an LGBT audience. – DO SOMETHING to show us that we are welcome.  

Remember that Gay Inclusive does not mean you’re Gay Exclusive.

And if you prefer not to work with an LGBT clientele, that’s ok too. Just be clear about who your business wants to attract and why (more than for their money) and make choices that align with those decisions.

Finally, for the vendors out there – please just be clear that you can comfortably work with LGBT clients before agreeing to take us on. If you’re good with us, let us know and prepare for the LGBT Events to flow in!

Before you go! Are you looking to hire the best DJ (or any other service provider) in your area? Check out my blog, “How To Find The Best DJ in Tampa (or Any Other City) for some juicy tips to help you make sure you book the very best!

Happy Eventing,