By Rachael Russell
During this month of Pride celebrations, it is important to reflect on how industries and organizations, like wedding venues, that interact with the LGBTQIA+ community are working to project messages of inclusivity. Although many organizations and businesses within the wedding industry make great efforts to convey that they are welcoming to all, many of the traditions and language conventionally held by the industry do not support that message as effectively.
As a City organization, a community center and a wedding industry member, The Lincoln Center believes inclusivity is essential. To adequately create an inclusive environment within an industry that is historically heteronormative, we must actively support vendors and venues that are committed to serving all people equally.
LGBTQIA+ couples continue to face discrimination during their wedding planning. According to the Equality Institute, a staggering 20% of same-sex couples report “some type of discrimination or negative LGBTQ-specific experience” during wedding planning. Furthermore, 61% of transgender and non-binary couples experience a strong fear of rejection when working with wedding vendors. These statistics are an indication that the wedding industry is not doing enough to communicate and practice inclusivity.
The need for change is ongoing and the wedding industry must champion equitable business decisions that serve to amplify social justice for LGBTQIA+ couples. Recognizing our role within our community and the wedding industry, we seek to proactively address barriers that perpetuate inequity. We strive to be a place where everyone feels included and welcomed.
Language is a driving force for inclusivity. As such, we have purposefully omitted gendered and heteronormative language from our tours, website and promotional materials. It is imperative that we use inclusive language in our daily practices and printed materials to ensure we communicate inclusivity and equity. This can be as simple as addressing groups as “folks” as opposed to “ladies or gentlemen.” In this instance, this seemingly simple change can go a long way in reflecting a deeper understanding of gender fluidity and signifies an effort to not openly assume a person’s gender identity.
We also strive to ensure that inclusive imagery and language are being utilized throughout our website, social media platforms and marketing materials. We hold our vendors to high standards of inclusivity and we specifically denote vendors that consider themselves as inclusive on our website. We have made changes to our facility signage to incorporate more gender-neutral spaces like on signs for our restrooms and our wedding preparation room. We also conduct inclusivity trainings for our staff. We are constantly listening, learning, and adapting so that all members of our community feel welcome, respected, safe and celebrated.
It is the responsibility of all of us, as allies, patrons, and community members to work to make the wedding industry recognize the gaps that may exist in making everyone feel welcome. We recognize that there is more to be done in our work for equality. We support the LGBTQIA+ members of our community, not just during this colorful month of Pride, but all year round.
Rachael Russell | The Lincoln Center, Conference Services Coordinator