The publishers of LGBTQ media are looking to the brands their community loves and they want that love reciprocated. Apple, Amazon, and Starbucks could easily make a real difference for LGBTQ media and thus for our community at large by including LGBTQ owned and operated media in their media buys. They say they support diversity and equal rights while placing millions upon millions of dollars in mainstream media and ignoring LGBTQ media. Does it really matter that an LGBTQ person is in their advertisements or the CEO, CMO or Chief of Diversity is LGBTQ? Does that speak to the community and check a box or let them off the hook for not practicing what they preach? Sometimes it lets these companies off the hook versus making win-win investments with their advertising buys that provide concrete results for both the community and the company’s brand.

It took guts for Michelle Roux of Absolut to pursue the LGBTQ market back in 1981, and Absolut reaped the rewards like no other. While that’s a fond memory, the past is the past, and Absolut was sold to Pernod Ricard. Without the progressive country of Sweden pushing the Absolut brand forward, Pernod Ricard lays mostly silent now. It is long past the time of the warm and fuzzy feeling most gay men had for the brand. It’s time to move forward and for another company to seize the opportunity to promote their brand and make a difference. We need new “Champions” of the LGBTQ market, with new products for our market to fall in love with and new brands to shower our economic power onto. In 2024 there is still economic discrimination, companies that talk the talk but don’t follow through with real actions that both support their brands but also the community they are seeking as customers. 

It has not helped that most LGBTQ media is both print and local, it’s strong enough to survive Covid. However, I’m not sure LGBTQ media is strong enough to stand the love affair that advertising agencies have with digital-only campaigns, regardless of the current research on LGBTQ consumers media habits. We estimate that near 90% of LGBTQ digital content comes directly from the print product. As a result, how is a digital-only campaign going to help the community or really the brand if they only support some giant programmatic buyer? Tagging our web traffic and behavior versus supporting the actual media by and for the community that we read and love. The challenges are real, and I guess as real as they have always been which is why Absolut reaped the rewards when they did. So, I say to the corporate marketing world that NOW is the time to step up to support your consumers and stand against hate. Your advertising agency will be only too glad to help you if you give them a budget and direction. To the advertising agency world, I ask to do your research or simply tap into the existing research. Ad agencies need to market to the LGBTQ community in the way they/we want to be marketed to, not how agencies want to do it, which so many still do.

To LGBTQ consumers and allies everywhere I say, “wait, watch, and pay attention to real investments in our community and then support them. Call out Anheuser-Busch for their anti-American values, quit your love affair with companies based on something they did years and years ago. Let’s all look to the future and to who is really deserving of our economic power. Look to the groups within our community and make sure they are doing their jobs and are worthy of our support and if so, we must support them.

I’m optimistic! I really feel most companies don’t realize what agents of change they can be by simply promoting themselves (AKA advertising) in the media that is most important to the customers they seek. In turn, those same customers can make all the difference in a competitive marketplace. No one is looking to convince advertisers to spend more or pursue markets that don’t make sense for them. We ask only to focus what those companies already spend authentically to the consumers that are perfect for their products and brands.

About the Author

Todd Evans is President and CEO of Rivendell Media-America’s leading LGBTQ media placement firm- a unique media company that was founded in 1979 and represents 95% of all LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS media in the United States and Canada. Rivendell Media serves as the national advertising representative for over 200 gay, lesbian and HIV/AIDS newspapers, magazines and entertainment guides their websites and standalone digital properties. After working for the company and then taking over in 1994, he has worked on almost every major LGBT media campaign as well as every DTC campaign in the HIV/AIDS market since the FDA allowed them. That experience along with his knowledge of the media provide unique qualifications on what has worked and what is necessary to reach and speak to these audiences. Todd Evans is also a silent partner of Q Syndicate, the leading content provider for gay media and is also publisher of Press Pass Q, the industry newsletter for the gay and lesbian press professional. Todd Evans graduated from Villanova University with a bachelor in Political Science. He currently resides in Mountainside, New Jersey. He can be reached at or 908-232-2021 ext 210.

View Articles