In the third of a series of virtual talks/panels curated with a purpose of continuing our commitment to connecting communities, dapperQ presented a live digital panel titled “Selling OUT: Anti-Oppressive Queer Style Marketing” moderated by Anita Dolce Vita, owner of dapperQ and featuring speakers: Meg Ten Eyck, Editor of EveryQueer Magazine; E Leifer, Chief Design Officer of Play Out Apparel Inc.; and Dev Seldon, Creative Director at We Are Fluide; Beauty Influencer.
dapperQ was invited to present this topic back in 2018 at South by Southwest (SXSW) during the conference’s SXstyle track. (You can listen to the original panel here.) The 2018 SXSW panel description was listed as:
Queer visibility in mainstream fashion is often presented on platforms that cause harm to the queer community, such as those that erase diverse identities or support anti-LGBTQ legislation. Mainstream fashion has been increasingly leveraging the digital networks of out LGBTQ fashion entrepreneurs to reach queer markets. Should queer style entrepreneurs lend their talents to mainstream platforms to change the industry from within? If so, how can they earn profit while delivering positive social justice messages to transform imperfect platforms and how can mainstream fashion develop anti-oppressive marketing to better support the community? Is it possible to sell OUT without “selling out?”
Since 2018, we have been wanting to expand this conversation to include different speakers, voices, and industries, as we believe this topic is more than a “one-and-done” exploration of intersectional LGBTQ+ inclusion and diversity for businesses both big and small. For this most recent virtual panel, we added experts from the travel (Meg) and beauty (Dev) industries, in addition to new perspectives from queer fashion (Play Out and dapperQ.) The overall takeaways included:
- For travel influencers, writers, and bloggers, vetting brands and destinations require different approaches and sensitivities to political climates that are not necessarily created and upheld by local citizens, but rather maintained by authoritarian governments;
- Not all travelers have the privilege of avoiding destinations that do not have friendly LGBTQ+ legal protections, as many travelers have to visit destinations that are not considered LGBTQ+ friendly for work or to spend time with family;
- Travelers need to unpack why we think some countries are more LGBTQ+ friendly than others. For example, travelers are open to spending money in countries where there are no federal protections for LGBTQ+ citizens, such as in the U.S., where members of our communities can be fired for simply identifying as LGBTQ+ in almost half of U.S. states. Why is this type of discrimination excusable in some countries over others?
- Fashion and beauty brands will never achieve true authenticity and will never fully get their messages across if they are not creating diverse, safe, and inclusive corporate cultures where employees can bring their whole selves to work;
- In addition to hiring a diverse workforce, companies must be willing to openly listen to the ideas and feedback of minority employees, and not be defensive or assume to know more because it may feel uncomfortable to learn that existing business practices are not welcoming, effective, or efficient.
The 70 minute talk included so much more and is an important tool for both LGBTQ+ consultants and contractors, as well as business that will to achieve meaningful change and ally-ship.