Repicturing LGBTQ+ Families

Trends / Realness
Willie B. Thomas
Guy Merrill
May 28, 2020
As someone who has only ever marched at Pride in London as part of an LGBTQ+ adopters’ group, my family and our shared identity are a significant part of how I see myself and my place in society.  Marching in Pride, surrounded by families that closely resemble mine has been a powerful and poignant experience.  However, historically we have not traditionally seen families like ours depicted in the mainstream media landscape – and it’s heartening to see these depictions begin to broaden in the last few years.
At Getty Images, we saw little customer demand for depictions of LGBTQ+ families as recently as 2018.  When brands did feature LGBTQ+ families in advertising ‑ they were typically white, upper middle‑class, traditionally good‑looking, cis‑gendered men with a baby.  Considering the myriad of ways LGBTQ+ families are created – these depictions were surprisingly narrow and stifling.  Now, however, we’re beginning to see more inclusive representations that portray a more rounded picture of LGBTQ+ family life ‑ including single parents, transracial families, blended families, co‑parenting, as well as parents of different ages and socio‑economic backgrounds.  
This was supported by the findings of our VisualGPS research, the topic of realness and authenticity is an ongoing story about long‑overdue acceptance of our differences, empathy for how others experience the world, and the ability to bring our whole selves to everything we do personally and professionally.
In the era of inclusion and representation, showing what’s real matters.
Despite progress, discrimination still persists: 57% of respondents to our Visual GPS survey have been affected by bias. So how do we reconcile this through imagery?
In the era of inclusion and representation, showing what’s real matters. The word real has become synonymous with diversity. Visually, this takes shape in the form of people wanting and expecting imagery to be representative of themselves and the world they see around them. In the LGBTQ+ community, where many have faced discrimination and bias, it’s important to connect through imagery that feels real.
Our Visual GPS study showed that people want to be accepted and have learned to accept others as they are, in the way they define themselves and the way they want to be seen. Two‑thirds ‑ or 68% to be precise ‑ say it’s important to them that the companies they buy from celebrate diversity of all kinds. 76% of GenZ and Millennials agree with this statement.
At a time when new family formations continue to be deemed as threatening to certain groups of people in society ‑ and as governments continue to create barriers to prevent LGBTQ+ people to create families ‑ it is important to celebrate the diversity of how our families are formed.  And we need to see them reflected in our wider culture and by the businesses we support.
How Discrimination is Driving Inclusion