For more than five decades, Pride Month has brought millions of LGBTQ+ individuals, advocates and allies together to celebrate the impact of the LGBTQ+ community. But as the world grapples with COVID-19, the past two Pride Months have certainly looked different.
Many in the LGBTQ+ community continue to face unique challenges as a result of the pandemic, including loss of livelihoods, lack of access to critical life-affirming healthcare, increased domestic violence and social isolation with the closure of local community services. LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely than the general population to live in poverty and lack access to adequate medical care, paid medical leave and basic necessities. In addition, a disproportionate number of LGBTQ+ people work in restaurants, retail, arts and entertainment, and education — industries impacted greatly by COVID-19.
Plus, Pride Month is typically a critical time to raise funds to support LGBTQ+ organizations year-round, which can be impacted when events are canceled.
At P&G, we believe in leading with love, the power of our differences, and the impact our brands and company can make when we come together united by shared values and purpose. When we act as a force for good and a force for growth, there is a positive impact not only for our business, but for the communities we serve. After the year that it’s been, there has never been a more critical to find new ways to reach LGBTQ+ people, raise their visibility, and reaffirm our commitment to equality and inclusion while helping those that need it most.
For the past two years, P&G and iHeartRadio have joined forces for Can’t Cancel Pride, a virtual relief benefit that brings together some of the biggest names in culture and entertainment to raise funds and visibility for the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month. In 2020, we were able to donate more than $4 million to six LGBTQ+ organizations: GLAAD, SAGE, National Black Justice Coalition, The Trevor Project, CenterLink and OutRight Action International.
This year’s event, which can be viewed through June 30, demonstrated that nothing can cancel the heart of Pride and the spirit that the LGBTQ+ equality movement embodies while focusing on the issues that continue to impact the LGBTQ+ community, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Hosted by Bebe Rexha and on-air personality Elvis Duran, the hour-long event also featured performances and appearances from Demi Lovato, Elton John, Jojo Siwa, Leslie Odom Jr., Lil Nas X and more. Our goal is to raise even more support than last year's event, as the pandemic continues to have a damaging effect on the fundraising efforts that LGBTQ+ organizations rely on to survive — and we’re proud to share that since the program premiered on June 4, we have already surpassed last year’s donations.
Can’t Cancel Pride may have initially been created to drive visibility and support for the LGBTQ+ community impacted by COVID-19, but the truth is, this community faces complex and significant obstacles every day, whether we’re in a pandemic or not.
While this year’s Pride Month features fewer masks and more in-person celebrations, the meaning and purpose behind advocating for and celebrating the LGBTQ+ community is just as, if not more, important.
LGBTQ+ inclusion is expanding every day in the media landscape, but not in advertising. A recent study found that only 1.8 percent of characters in ads at the Cannes Lions festival were LGBTQ+. What people see and hear in media and advertising impacts decisions made in schools, hospitals, boardrooms, newsrooms, courtrooms, homes and at the voting polls. Simply put, there is still significant work that needs to be done to ensure that companies and brands are including LGBTQ+ people in their ads and marketing to the LGBTQ+ community in authentic, positive and impactful ways.
That’s why we teamed up with GLAAD to launch The Visibility Project, a new campaign to drive and sustain LGBTQ+ inclusion in ads and marketing and to leverage the power of these mediums to accelerate LGBTQ+ acceptance. With The Visibility Project, P&G will commit more than $1 million over the next three years and partner with GLAAD to bring together the world’s top brands and ad agencies working to advance LGBTQ+ inclusion in media by creating and providing tools, techniques, and resources for industry executives to inspire other communities, companies, and organizations to harness the power of advertising to create a more inclusive world. The Association of National Advertisers’ Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM) is also working with us to expand The Visibility Project and create LGBTQ+ resources for the greater ad industry.
If you can’t be seen, you can’t be heard — and there’s no doubt that media and advertising affect perceptions, culture and ultimately, how people see each other and themselves. While we can see progress in many areas, we still have work to do. My hope is that as more brands and businesses meaningfully engage in supporting equality and inclusion, the experience of equality and the feeling of belonging are achievable for all.
Learn more about joining The Visibility Project.
This article is sponsored by Procter & Gamble
Image credits: Unsplash/Norbu Gyachung and Procter & Gamble