NEWS13 July 2018

Queerer than we used to be

News North America Trends UK Youth

UK – Almost half ( 49%) of 18- to 25-year-olds don’t identify as 100% gay or straight, according to YouGov and UM London.

The research was presented at IPG Mediabrands’ LGBTQ+ open morning in London yesterday, where a number of industry leaders and activists shared their thoughts and experiences.

Michael Brown, head of insight at UM, said that while the ONS had found that 2% of the population were lesbian, gay or bisexual, its research found 26% of the population did not identify as straight – closer to 14 million people.

Sexuality is viewed as being on a scale, rather than binary – with 84% of 18- to 24-year-olds seeing sexuality as a spectrum.

Other insights from the morning:

Don’t be tolerant – as Amy Lamé London’s night czar said, the discourse needs to be about acceptance and celebration, not just about tolerance.

Benn Moore, brand manager at Badoo and LGBTQ+ activist, said: “I’ve come to loathe the term tolerant: one in five LGBT people have experienced hate crime in the past year; four in five hate crimes go unreported and one in eight trans employees have been physically attacked.”

We all need role models – Munroe Bergdorf, model and LGBT+ activist described how isolating it was to grow up with no transgender women portrayed in the media. “If you can’t see it, you can still do it, but it’s ten times harder,” she said.

Daryl Lee, global CEO, UM urged people to find their mentor and advocates and that LGBTQ+ mentors were needed in business to help younger staff.

Mark Runacus, president of PrideAM, said even today there are few role models. “Although research shows people are feeling more confident about coming out in the workplace, we’re not great about coming out to our clients. Every day I come out I use specific language like mentioning my husband.”

Speak up – Lamé challenged some gay men over their behaviour toward women and how they needed to do more to make sure all women felt safe in the LGBTQ+ space. She also pointed out that those whose voices are heard most need to use them wisely. “Make conscious, considerate choices if you’re in a position of power,” she said.

Bergdorf said she will “kick up a stink” when she doesn’t see a diverse workforce behind the scenes as any creative work has to come from a “real place of truth”.

As people working in marketing and technology are often more extrovert, Steve Lok, global head of martech, The Economist, argued that it was important that they were overly expressive to help make those who are naturally more introverted to feel comfortable and able to come out.

“Figure out what your values are. If you have values that are about equality and respect then you speak up,” urged Lee.

Everyone can do more – the importance of allies in the workplace and society was emphasised by all the speakers as was the positive work done by brands. Runacus said: “I’d say to any brand – thank you for trying. There’s no rule book but start with as many communities as you can.”

Lee said he felt that he could still do more. “The only debate is whether you’re backward or forward as a leader; diversity is a journey to a more inclusive culture. What does it take to belong? We gravitate to what we feel comfortable with and straight, white guys are still the majority.”

He said there was a timely conversation going on in the US about race. “It’s not an easy [conversation] but it’s my job as a white man, to challenge white supremacists. You must challenge the people closest to you.”