Queer Spaces

Trends / Wellness
Carolina Sampaio Lechner
Jun 6, 2024
This Pride month, how can brands avoid pinkwashing and show their commitment to LGBTQIA+ inclusion through visuals that don’t perpetuate harmful stereotypes?
There are so many unshown visual stories of what it means to be part of the LGBTQIA+ community today. Getty Images' VisualGPS research shows an over‑reliance on rainbow flag symbolism. And when it comes to future inclusion, half of LGBTQIA+ people in Europe say acceptance of how people choose to identify is unlikely in their lifetimes. So, how brands can play a more intentional role in opening out visual expressions of LGBTQIA+ inclusion?

Welcoming queer spaces
There is an underrepresentation of LGBTQIA+ people in third places. Introduced by Ray Oldenburg in the '80s, a third place is a place that is separate from home and work, designated for community and social interaction.1 To many LGBTQIA+ people, third places can be safer spaces to form identity and find acceptance.2 Showing a broader spectrum of queer spaces where LGBTQIA+ people nurture relationships with chosen family3 and communities is key.
Sports communities 
Sports communities is a good example of a third place and LGBTQIA+ depiction in sports is important according to our VisualGPS research. However, sports is not always a welcoming place, with exclusion on the field or in locker rooms4 to the discrimination of transgender sportspeople.5 So, how can brands encourage better LGBTQIA+ participation in sport with visuals? By showing people of all gender identities bringing their authentic selves and experiencing belonging while engaging in different sports.
Entertainment spaces
Bars and nightclubs were once underground spaces for LGBTQIA+ people to build identity and community, away from the repression of governments and society.6 However, visibility gaps still exist around queer nightlife today with customers relying most on domestic stories to show stories of connection. Highlighting community and relationship building in visuals of socialising can help close this visibility gap.
Digital spaces
Social media, forums and gaming offer community and interestingly, 61% of LGBTQIA+ community agree citing more visibility across social media platforms versus traditional media.
However, while nearly 70% of LGBTQIA+ individuals find social media inclusive, 39% report experiencing discrimination. It is important, therefore, to show digital spaces as welcoming and inclusive. From gaming to online dating, showing LGBTQIA+ people sharing their perspectives and communities online is key.
[1] The Great Good Place, Ray Oldenburg (1989)
[2] Queer Spaces: An Atlas of LGBTQIA+ Places and Stories. Adam Nathaniel Furman, Joshua Mardell (Ed.); RIBA Publishing
[3] New York Times; The Guardian
[4] International Journal of the Sociology of Leisure
[5] BMC Psychology
[6] Die Zeitjetzt by Süddeutsche Zeitung
Visualising Travel