Allyship shouldn’t be a strategy but a way of operating

How Mr. President is making actionable strides toward LGBTQ+ inclusion

Rahul Sonegra

Junior Graphic Designer Mr. President


During Pride month it has almost become a tradition for companies, brands, and governments to suggest that they are LGBTQ+ allies without evident or substantial support to this underserved community. While Pride is an event where the LGBTQ+ community gets together to celebrate who they are, it is equally worth noting that Pride month is a product of years of historic protest led by LGBTQ+ activists, such as Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who risked their lives to foster more equitable political and social conditions for LGBTQ+ communities everywhere.

The idea of Pride washing has become a palatable means of demonstrating allyship to a wide demographic - especially for companies who continue to donate to Anti-LGBTQ+ politicians. Allyship should not be a strategy for brands and agencies to display, but rather a way of operating - in which LGBTQ+ representation and activism are the norms year-round.

Many brands and companies have been conditioned to think allyship means optimising the Rainbow flag within a strategic campaign for Pride month, however, this commercialises Pride month and disregards what it truly represents. Millennials and Gen Z—and as a design intern who can identify with this demographic of shrewd and socially-progressive consumers—will criticise and interrogate this form of performative advocacy. Rather than a traditional media strategy for brands and agencies to generate revenue or engagement, producing a campaign that includes a sizeable, yet inspiring, set of deliverables overseen and directed by LGBTQ+ creatives can promote accurate and valuable representation. Additionally, integrating a call-to-action is an effective way for people to support and advocate for LGBTQ+ initiatives by donating to foundations such as Stonewall, MindOut, and Kaleidoscope Trust.

Allyship should not be a strategy for brands and agencies to display, but rather a way of operating - in which LGBTQ+ representation and activism are the norms year-round

Rahul Sonegra, Junior Graphic Designer at Mr. President

For brands and agencies to extend beyond the rainbow logos they must collaborate with and support LGBTQ+ creatives and initiatives year-round. Developing an honest relationship with the LGBTQ+ community and openly engaging in conversations in which they can share their deep history, culture, and stories is also an authentic and transparent way for brands to participate in LGBTQ+ affairs.

It is equally important that brands and agencies are internal with their representation as well. This means hiring people who identify with the LGBTQ+ community, acknowledging queer and trans people in the workplace, and seeing them in executive and leadership roles.

As a creative agency, Mr. President has had the benefit of working with Stonewall - an organisation that has been fighting inequality, lobbying the government, and making a difference for LGBTQ+ rights here in the UK and abroad. Our ‘30 years of Stonewall’ campaign served as a reminder that LGBTQ+ advocacy should be a continuous practice. 

As an industry, we can also work toward creating a more inclusive and safe environment for the LGBTQ+ community by understanding the theory of intersectionality: that each member of the LGBTQ+ community will have a different experience from one another. Companies can better accommodate individual stories and backgrounds by providing a platform for LGBTQ+ people to exist.

The drama series Pose is a powerful example of intersectional LGBTQ+ representation. It portrays the stories of Black and Brown trans and queer communities and how they defined themselves against trans- and homophobia, but also racism, classism, marriage inequality, violence, and parental neglect. The show also serves as a significant means of trans representation, making history as the largest cast of transgender actors on TV and awarding leading actress MJ Rodriguez, who became the first openly transgender person to win a Golden Globe earlier this year for her role as Blanca Evangelista.

These milestones in LGBTQ+ history continue to pave the way for further representation and inclusivity for queer and trans voices to be heard and seen. The portrayal of LGBTQ+ stories in mainstream media and advertising can be a channel for this group to be more acknowledged and accepted in real life as a result. It is important for the creative industry to show images but also share the stories of the LGBTQ+ community so that younger generations can grow up in a world and see themselves reflected through everyday life and have no doubt that they are worthy and capable.

Overall, we can work toward creating a more inclusive environment for the LGBTQ+ community as a creative industry by supporting queer and trans creatives and initiatives all year round, amplifying the voices of this underserved community, and making room for LGBTQ+ stories to take centre stage. In turn, we can redefine what Pride month looks like in the corporate world by showcasing what LGBTQ+ liberation and success looks like in a celebratory, yet meaningful way.

Guest Author

Rahul Sonegra

Junior Graphic Designer Mr. President


Rahul is a Junior Graphic Designer at Mr. President and recent graduate of Winchester School of Art (Bachelors in Graphic Arts - specialising in graphic design). He is also the Content Creator for @razzledesigns on Instagram where he shares inspirational quotes, posts, and typography.

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