This year, our annual exploration of the relationship between the LGBT community and corporate America focuses on the organizations who turn their financial support into tangible results.
Over the past 25 years, we have experienced a huge evolution in the understanding and cultural acceptance of LGBT lives in America. One of the key ways this is reflected is the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, on which corporations like AT&T, Johnson & Johnson and Wells Fargo are annually recognized for supporting our community. And each year, charities and community organizations work closely with these corporations to fund a wide variety of programs and initiatives for LGBT people.
Corporate sponsorship provides an opportunity for companies to reinforce the message that their company is part of the thriving culture of inclusion.“When we see gay marriage getting such amazing public support, it no longer seems revolutionary to have an advertisement or campaign that speaks directly to gay and lesbian consumers,” says David Gudelunas, PhD, a professor and researcher who studies the gay and lesbian consumer market.
These efforts have evolved from merely acknowledging the community’s existence to reflecting its ever-changing face.“Companies are recognizing … what a family looks like today,” says Matt Tumminello of gay-focused marketing agency Target 10. “A growing number of brands are reflecting a more diverse America in their national advertising, particularly on TV, and this includes LGBT families.”
Businesses can earn additional good will by providing support to organizations that address community needs, and part of what makes our community powerful, says Gudelunas, is that we are statistically likely to seek out and patronize “companies and brands that are willing to go on record and say: We stand with this community.” With that in mind, we look at 12 essential organizations, how they are making a difference in our lives and which companies care enough to help.
THE GOOD: Steve Endean founded the Human Rights Campaign Fund as one of the first U.S. gay and lesbian political action committees in 1980. Its mission was to provide financial support to political candidates who supported gay civil rights legislation. In 1995 Executive Director Elizabeth Birch dropped the “fund” and expanded the mission beyond lobbying to fight for LGBT workplace and family rights. Today it’s the nation’s largest civil rights organization with over 1.5 million members. hrc.org
THE COMPANIES: HRC works closely with corporations like American Airlines, Apple, Bank of America, Chevron, Citi, Deloitte, The Coca-Cola Company, Microsoft, Lexus, Prudential, Target, W Hotels Worldwide and others.
THE GOOD: Originally founded as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, GLAAD is a media advocacy organization founded in 1985 in response to the New York Post’s defamatory and sensationalized HIV/AIDS coverage. Their goal was to push media organizations to end homophobic reporting, and today the organization continues to rewrite the script for LGBT acceptance. GLAAD tackles tough topics, shapes news narratives and provokes dialogue leading to cultural change. Their involvement with issues from celebrities coming out of the closet to the agendas of media conglomerates has allowed people to better understand the LGBT community, join in supporting equality, and overcome barriers of intolerance. glaad.org
THE COMPANIES: GLAAD’s main corporate sponsors include Wells Fargo, Comcast, NBCUniversal, and Southwest Airlines. Among the presenters of this year’s GLAAD Media Awards were Delta Airlines, Hilton, Ketel One Vodka, Amazon and Bud Light.
THE GOOD: Point Foundation, founded in 2001, is the nation’s largest scholarship-granting organization for LGBTQ students. It has invested $18 million in education and support of 264 LGBTQ scholars since its inception. “As a first-generation college student, my parents have very limited resources to support me in my pursuit for higher education,” says scholar Isaias Guzman, who now is able to study at UC Berkeley with Point’s support.
“Through our supportive network of peers, mentors, and allies, Point can open doors for these bright students,” said Jorge Valencia, executive director and CEO of Point Foundation. pointfoundation.org
THE COMPANIES: Some of their main corporate sponsors include Citibank, Audi, Wells Fargo, Toyota, Time Warner, Estée Lauder Companies, and HBO.
THE TREVOR PROJECT
THE GOOD: In 1994, producers Randy Stone and Peggy Rajski saw writer-performer James Lecesne bring to life the character of Trevor, gay teen who attempts to take his own life. This led to the Academy Award–winning short film Trevor and The Trevor Project. It’s the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention to LGBT people ages 13–24. Hundreds of thousands of young people in crisis have reached out to Trevor Project’s in-person and online life-affirming resources, such as Trevor Lifeline, TrevorChat, TrevorSpace and Trevor Education Workshops. thetrevorproject.org
THE COMPANIES: The Trevor Project’s national corporate partners include Wells Fargo, AT&T, Baxter, Bright Future International, FCA Foundation, Goldman Sachs Gives, PwC, Toyota, Absolut Vodka, Goldman Sachs, Google, Macys, MillerCoors, Viacom, and Yahoo!
LIVE OUT LOUD
THE GOOD: Live Out Loud is the brainchild of Leo Preziosi, Jr., who read an article in Metrosource called “The Gun in the Closet” about two students who committed suicide because of hostile school environments, isolation and fear. In response, Preziosi recruited out professionals to become role models and mentors by speaking to students about their careers. “People in our community can make such an impact just by sharing their wisdom, skills and experience,” says Preziosi, Jr. liveoutloud.info
THE COMPANIES: Corporate sponsors like InStyle, Johnson & Johnson, APCO Worldwide, Bank of America, Bloomingdales, Burberry, Coach, GE Capital, HBO, Viacom, & Cole Haan have all come forward to help the organization achieve its goals. Additionally, sponsors of their annual Young Trailblazers Gala this year include Merrill Lynch, AppNexus, GE Capital, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, TJX T.J.Maxx/Marshalls/HomeGoods, The Donna Karan Company, and Marc Jacobs International.
NYC LGBT CENTER
THE GOOD: Famous for being the birthplace of ACT UP and its inimitable second-floor Keith Haring mural, The Center is an extraordinary resource for everyone from artists to activists. It hosts over 300,000 visitors each year while providing social, cultural, wellness, and health-based programming to support NYC’s vibrant LGBT community. gaycenter.org
THE COMPANIES: Recently, The Center’s corporate partners have aided significantly in a $9.2 million dollar renovation of its main building. Bloomberg, New York Life, HBO, Time Warner Cable, Prudential, Goldman Sachs, Citibank, Microsoft, JetBlue, and Diageo are some sponsors that made this renovation and The Center’s day-to-day operations possible.
LA LGBT CENTER
THE GOOD: In 1969, a group community of activists and leaders began providing support to LGBT people in need. Later that year, they met to discuss the concept of creating a Gay Community Services Center. They started by creating the Gay Survival Committee of the Gay Liberation Front to help meet the demand for services. In late 1971, The Center founders filed for incorporation and opened the nation’s first facility for LGBT homeless and its first headquarters on Wilshire. Today The Center welcomes over half a million visitors each year. “This has actually been a year of record demand in just about all The Center’s programs,” said Gil Diaz, marketing and communications manager for The Center. “Our beds for homeless youth are always full, therapists and counselors have waiting lists for appointments, and the waiting list for affordable LGBT senior housing continues to grow. Each month now, we welcome more than 42,000 visits. To help meet this growing demand, we’re planning to open a revolutionary new facility in the next three years, funded by the most ambitious capital campaign in the history of the LGBT movement.” lalgbtcenter.org
THE COMPANIES: Some of their most generous corporate sponsors include Wells Fargo, Toyota Financial Services, and American Airlines.
THE GOOD: In 1982, a group of men organized Gay Men’s Health Crisis in response to the then increasingly out-of-control AIDS epidemic. An answering machine in the home of a volunteer became the world’s first AIDS hotline, and it received over 100 calls on the first night. GMHC is now recognized as the world’s first and leading provider of HIV/AIDS prevention, care and advocacy. For over three decades, GMHC has worked to uplift the lives of all affected by HIV/AIDS with groundbreaking prevention, testing and services including nutrition and legal programs, and public policy work — including recently pressuring the government to recommend PrEP. gmhc.org
THE COMPANIES: Corporate sponsors who work closely with GMHC include Duane Reade, MAC AIDS Fund, Barclays Capital, Merck, Bank of America, Gap Inc., Bloomberg L.P., Macy’s, TD Bank, Toyota and Delta
THE GOOD: Also in 1982, four friends gathered at an emergency meeting for a presentation by a representative from San Francisco’s Kaposi’s Sarcoma Foundation about Gay Related Immunodeficiency Disease an early name for AIDS. This led to the creation of AIDS Project Los Angeles, which is dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by HIV disease, reducing the incidence of HIV infection, and advocating for fair and effective HIV-related public policy. Additionally, APLA’s Health & Wellness Center provides culturally competent medical, dental and behavioral health services to low-income individuals in Los Angeles regardless of their HIV status. apla.org
THE COMPANIES: Some of APLA’s main corporate supporters include: Delta Air Lines, Macy’s, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, HBO, Showtime, MAC and Comcast NBCUniversal.
THE GOOD: Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders was founded in New York City in 1978 by a small group of LGBT activists who recognized that LGBT people did not have the support they needed to maintain good health and financial security. Older LGBT people often face unique challenges finding safe, affirming, affordable housing, and disproportionately live in poverty. A 2014 report found that 48% of older same-sex couples applying for senior housing faced discrimination. “Addressing the current housing crisis is a critical first step in improving the lives of LGBT older people,” says Michael Adams, executive director of SAGE. The organization also offers innovative programs related to arts and culture, health and wellness and employment. sageusa.org
THE COMPANIES: SAGE’s annual Toys Party,
a holiday event, boasts corporate sponsorship from Ketel One, HBO and Grey Global Group. Other sponsors working with SAGE include the Walmart Foundation, Ford Foundation, The MAC AIDS Fund, Hearst Foundations, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Manolo Blahnik, JPMorgan Chase and Walgreens.
GOD’S LOVE WE DELIVER
THE GOOD: God’s Love We Deliver is the New York City metropolitan area’s leading provider of nutritious, individually-tailored meals to people who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves. Founded in 1985 when one woman began delivering food on her bicycle to a man dying from AIDS, God’s Love now cooks 5,000 meals each weekday, delivering them to clients living with life-altering illnesses throughout NYC and parts of New Jersey. The organization understands the need for delicious and nutritious meals, especially for those living with a life-altering illness. They provide home-delivered meals, grocery bags, nutrition counseling — plus services for children and caregivers. glwd.org
THE COMPANIES: God’s Love welcomes support from Michael Kors, the Avon Foundation for Women, The Carnegie Corporation, MAC AIDS Fund, Macy’s and Wells Fargo.
THE TRUE COLORS FUND
THE GOOD: In America, it is estimated that between 500,000 and 1.6 million youth are homeless each year, and up to 40% of these young people identify as gay or transgender. Since its creation in 2008, the True Colors Fund has been working to end homelessness among LGBT youth and creating a world in which young people can be their true selves. “When I was growing up in the ‘60s, I was inspired and empowered by the Civil Rights Movement,” says Cyndi Lauper, co-founder of the organization. “This time it is straight people who are beginning to stand side-by-side with their family, friends, co-workers and neighbors to say that this country is about equality, fairness and that never-ending pursuit of happiness.” truecolorsfund.org
THE COMPANIES: True Colors Fund corporate sponsors include American Airlines, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, Butler & Hosch, and Creative.
Want Metrosource LGBTQ content notifications? Sign up for MetroEspresso.
Last modified: February 25, 2019