LGBTQ organizations face many challenges in the coming year. Reaching donors, adjusting their message to the times, building a base of support. One question I'm curious about is this: are the large LGBTQ organizations reaching out to small town LGBTQ life? Are they telling their story enough? Do they care?
Here's what I have noticed. Much of the LGBTQ messaging is focused on life in big cities. And it's likely because of this that most of the donors, I would imagine, come from the big cities. Why is this so? The largest LGBTQ organizations are based in big cities, so they focus on what's around them, what's in their sphere. But there is also an issue with this trend.
My hope is this: we need to begin to tell the stories of small town/small city LGBTQ life. We need to focus on who these people are and why they still matter. We need to tell their stories. We need to create messaging that speaks to them. If the LGBTQ movement wants to expand its reach, I wonder what would happen if they speak to these men and women. The ones who live lives that no one examines.
It's time that their Pride parades don't suffer. It's time that their community resources get the attention and funding they deserve. It's time we create materials that include their families in the conversation. It's time big city organizations partner with them.
I live in Baltimore. Baltimore has its own parade, its own problems, its own target audience. Is Baltimore talking to the other cities in Maryland? Glen Burnie, Annapolis, Bel Air. Does it want to? Do the other cities want to hear from Baltimore? I don't know. Big questions that are worth answering. I lived in New York City for years. Did it ever look to Elmira, Syracuse, Lake George, Buffalo? Did it ever try to partner with them? Did the other cities want the help of NYC? If we stay in our bubble, the only organization that benefits is our own.
Here's my question: what would reaching out to other organizations do for your business? Would this make your organization suffer, would it spread you too thin? Or would it actually help? Would it expand your reach? Would it increase your donor base? Could it begin a different conversation? Here's the thing: I don't know the answer, but I think it's worth a discussion. The LGBTQ community in smaller cities face many of the same problems bigger city residents do. Maybe it's time we reach out to them. Maybe it's time we connect to the small-town LGBTQ organizations already in place. And if they don't exist, then we need to work to build one.
If these are questions you want to consider, we're here to help.