Navigating love in 2023: brands redefining queer dating

The commercialisation of Pride has led to a degree of imbalance in the queer community

In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift in the way brands engage with and market to the LGBTQ+ community during Pride month and beyond

While many brands have made significant strides in supporting LGBTQ+ rights and representation, there is an argument that the commercialisation of Pride has led to a certain degree of imbalance within the queer community… but does this affect the world of queer dating? The ever-changing dating landscape has undergone a remarkable transformation in the last 10 or so years, adapting to the digital age with open arms. Dating apps, in particular, have become integral to the dating experience for people of all sexual orientations.

They have also, without doubt, helped empower queer individuals to connect more safely with like-minded partners, and broken down geographical barriers; as well as helping to foster a sense of belonging that might have felt risky in the past.

Dating apps are also taking specific steps to ensure that their platforms are safe and welcoming spaces for everyone. HER has been championing gender-neutral pronouns and inclusive relationship options (to cater to a more diverse audience) for many years. The rise in popularity of specialist dating apps, and websites catering specifically to the LGBTQ+ community (such as HER) are also thriving. Providing tailored experiences for queer individuals, allowing them to connect with others who share their interests, identities, and experiences.

Representation matters

Mainstream media have often marginalised queer voices, but a positive shift has been noticeable recently and thankfully, the advertising world is beginning to mirror the online dating world. Brands are increasingly addressing the need for better representation, showcasing LGBTQ+ individuals, couples and families in their advertisements and marketing campaigns.

This not only empowers queer people but also normalises same-sex relationships, making them more visible and accepted in society.

Brands fostering inclusivity

Yes, rainbow capitalism can be tiring, especially around the Pride celebrations, and there needs to be a balance, a yeah long commitment, but every now and then, it surprisingly yields results. Take, for instance, the J&B Whisky Christmas ad for Spain in 2022 (below), which went viral for its heart-warming portrayal of love and acceptance for transgender family members, weep.

Then there are the campaigns that directly give back to the LGBTQ+ community like our Durex Pride partnership that saw award-winning trans artist and activist Fox Fisher collaborate to create two unique boxes with LGBTQ+ educational materials and goodies for Pride. Durex donated £1 for every £5 spent to Stonewall Equality Ltd as part of the campaign, supporting LGBTQ+ freedom and self-expression.

Achieving balance in the queer experience

The journey toward equilibrium within the queer community is ongoing. Despite notable advancements, enduring imbalances persist. Discrimination, prejudice, and violence against LGBTQ+ individuals continue worldwide, emphasising the need for sustained advocacy and support.

Brands as agents of change

Brands possess the potential to wield considerable influence for change. They can not only promote LGBTQ+ inclusivity but actively combat discrimination and inequality. By engaging in initiatives such as awareness campaigns, diversity training, and supporting LGBTQ+ organisations, brands can play a pivotal role in rectifying the imbalances within the queer experience.

In conclusion…

As we reflect on the dating landscape in 2023 and the impact of brands on the queer experience, it’s evident that progress has been made. Dating apps and other brands have paved the way for more inclusive and accepting environments. Representation and authenticity are becoming the standard, challenging stereotypes and fostering understanding. Nevertheless, the work ahead cannot be ignored. The queer community continues to confront various challenges, spanning discrimination to mental health disparities. Brands must persist as allies, utilising their platforms to advocate for change and promote equality in society.

As we seek balance in all aspects in September, let us remember that the journey toward that goal demands ongoing dedication. Brands possess a unique opportunity to be part of this journey, helping shape a world where individuals of all sexual orientations can discover love, acceptance, and genuine equilibrium, with examples of real brand initiatives that resonate with authenticity.

Featured image: Anna Shvets / Pexels

Angie Gola-Ebue, Global Head of Advertising and Partnerships at HER

Angie Gola-Ebue is Global Head of Advertising and Partnerships, HER. With over 20 years’ industry experience. In 2016, she helped create the first global advertising department for Tinder. Following her tenure as a commercial lead at VICE Media, Tinder/Match Group, Angie took on a leadership role at HER, the award-winning and world’s largest dating and social platform for queer women, trans, and non-binary people. Recent winner of Campaigns 40 Over 40, her success is driven by a combination of hard work, common sense, passion, determination, and overall enthusiasm for getting things done.

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