From Member Glen Peden, VP Group Creative Director, Momentum Worldwide, NY

I love Pride month and everything it represents—visibility, representation, respect and a celebration of diversity. As a gay man, I have been fortunate to witness so much progress in our fight for equality during my lifetime, but we still have a long way to go. Starting out in the industry back in the early 90s, it was unheard of for a brand to feature the “LG” let alone the “BTQ+” in their advertising or marketing efforts. Remember, we were still fighting the AIDs crisis, so showing positive role models in our community was totally taboo. As a creative director, having now worked in the brand marketing agency business for more than 30 years, I’ve seen an evolution of how brands either step away from or, gratefully more and more, embrace LGBTQ+ communities. Believe me, we take notice, and we support brands who authentically show up for us.

At my agency, Momentum Worldwide, we believe that it’s not what brands say, but what they do that matters. It’s time for brands that want to show up and embrace LGBTQ+ communities and the spending power we represent to extend beyond Pride month to build loyalty and make an impact with our community. Our purchasing power is inarguable—an estimated $3.7 trillion globally, according to LGBT Capital—so brands that go beyond “Rainbows for June” and instead work to capture the essence of LGBTQ+ culture will win our dollars again and again.

Pride isn’t just about rainbow apparel or corporate-sponsored parades, nor is it about slapping a graphic version of the rainbow on packaging or within advertising. The LGBTQ+ community is savvy, and they see through efforts that don’t seem intrinsic to the brand or are a one-and-done. While I truly do commend any brand that celebrates Pride, it’s important to remember that we are LGBTQ+ 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, so celebrate us all year long and it will pay off. When we see ourselves in and believe in your brand, and, most importantly, believe that your brand is for us, you will gain our love and loyalty.

Back in 2014, one brand hit a strong cord with me and made a positive impact on our community with their bold stance on what was then referred to as the “glamorization of alternative lifestyles.” Honey Maid, a classic all-American cracker brand, created a campaign that celebrated what it means to be wholesome to modern-day families. The creative featured a diverse mix of different family units that were more representative of today’s world versus the old, traditional father, mother and children imagery. Unfortunately, there was a barrage of hateful and negative comments on the campaign from various opposing political and religious groups. The brand anticipated this and responded with a message of hope by surrounding those hateful comments with loving messages from people who supported the shift and saw the need for change. This was such a powerful example of how a brand believed in their message and was willing to stand up for equality for all.