Representation matters, and queer influencers are key to achieve this.
That’s the starting point to write this piece. But, do we actually understand why? Well, because before 1994 when Ikea launched the first ad with two same-sex couple, queer people have never seen themselves represented in any kind of advertising; it’s not only about selling products or services, but feeling a connection with the content you consume, and therefore being able to imagine yourself in that context. When you don’t have representation, there is a lack of connection.
As society progresses towards inclusivity, the presence of LGBTQ+ influencers plays a vital role in fostering empathy and understanding on this matter; audiences crave the opportunity to see, connect, and interact with these influencers, because they see themselves projected on them. Through authentic stories and relatable experiences, LGBTQ+ influencers have the power to bridge gaps and inspire genuine connections, giving to the communities what they need so much: a place to belong.
Queer influencers and their audiences
Niche communities are rising since the past years, and these small groups share a strong point of similarities that make them feel like family, but the numbers of them are not small: about 7.1% of American adults identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, according to a Gallup poll conducted in 2022, up from 5.6% in 2021. The proportion jumps to 21% for adult members of Generation Z, and many younger consumers say they want to see inclusive ads, but not only during Pride Month.
Actually, Harris Insights & Analytics, stated that 67% of consumers think Pride Month has become too commercialised, and consumers are quick to call brands out when their messaging doesn’t measure up. We need to remember that these consumers won’t hesitate to stop their relation with brands if they don’t align to their words and values in all sense, including the actions they do in terms of representation.
For the past 10 years, the rise of the influencers has been the lead when choosing to connect to audiences, and LGBTQ+ influencers offer audiences authentic narratives and stories that resonate deeply. By sharing their personal content, struggles, and triumphs, they provide a sense of relatability and understanding that becomes a bridge between them, helping individuals feel seen, understood, and accepted; with this, the brand that talks thought the influencer finds an opportunity to connect with an effective audience.
According to a study conducted by Out Now, 62% of LGBTQ+ individuals feel that social media influencers are essential in helping them explore and express their identity.
Seeing LGBTQ+ influencers in influencer marketing campaigns sends a powerful message of inclusivity and acceptance; it’s not only about the struggle anymore, but about being able to have a good, recognised life that inspires others. It allows individuals from the LGBTQ+ community to see themselves reflected positively in mainstream media, validating their identities and experiences. For those outside the community, it fosters empathy, breaking down barriers and stereotypes of the “being different”, and promoting a more diverse and inclusive society.
- According to The New ConZumer Journey, 58% of Gen-Z shoppers have purchased a fashion item outside of their gender identity, compared to 40% of Millennials or 22% of Gen Xers – showing a deep sense and need for inclusivity and gender fluidity
- In another finding of Nielsen states that 76% of respondents said they think brands can influence the evolution of LGBT rights. 64% of consumers worldwide will buy or boycott a brand based on its stance on social issues.
For and by queer community: representation and safe spaces
Influencer marketing provides a unique opportunity to create safe spaces for LGBTQ+ individuals and their allies. Queer influencers often cultivate supportive communities, where individuals can engage in discussions, ask questions, and seek advice. These spaces foster a sense of belonging and understanding, empowering individuals to embrace their true selves. Audiences value these safe spaces, appreciating the chance to connect with like-minded individuals and form meaningful connections within a supportive community.
- 71% of consumers surveyed by Forbes stated that they expect brands to promote diversity and inclusion in their online advertising, but more than half (54%) don’t feel fully represented in online ads
- The study also found that 59% of consumers are more loyal to brands that commit to inclusion in their online advertising and 59% of that group prefer to buy from such brands.
Influencer marketing featuring LGBTQ+ influencers challenges stereotypes and preconceived notions about gender, sexuality, and identity. By sharing their diverse experiences, LGBTQ+ influencers break down societal barriers, encouraging individuals to question and redefine their understanding of gender norms and sexual orientation, opening their minds to welcome all kinds of personal preferences.
Queer influencers possess the power to inspire social change and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and inclusivity. Through their platforms, they raise awareness about important issues, share educational resources, and encourage activism. Audiences are drawn to these influencers’ passion and dedication, often feeling inspired to join the movement for equality and social progress. Their representation in influencer marketing amplifies the voice of marginalised communities, promoting empathy, ally-ship, and positive change, all characteristics of a more empathetic generation.
According to our studies 70% of younger consumers are more trusting of brands that represent genuine diversity in advertisements, and 49% of them have stopped purchasing from a brand that did not represent their values.
The empathetic power and the impact of LGBTQ+ representation in influencer marketing extends far beyond commerce—it touches hearts, changes minds, and contributes to a more inclusive and compassionate society, and we, as marketers, have the responsibility to keep opening spaces and platforms for them to grow and reach broader audiences; there is a lot of work left to do, but we have walked a long path since 1994, and we are just aiming for a more equal and healthy future.