How to Be an LGBTQ+ Inclusive Wedding Photographer (and not just LGBTQ+ Friendly)
As a wedding photographer, you have the unique opportunity to capture one of the most special days in a couple's life. It's a day filled with joy, love, and excitement as two people pledge their lives to each other. And for too long, the wedding industry has excluded LGBTQ+ couples from that narrative.
Thankfully, that's slowly starting to change. Here's what you need to know about being an LGBTQ+ inclusive wedding photographer.
Why do wedding vendors need to be inclusive of queer people?
There's a fundamental question that underpins everything we're about to unpack in this article: Why do wedding vendors need to be inclusive of queer people?
The reasons why are layered and complex, but here's the main gist. For too long, the wedding industry (and society at large) has been geared towards straight, cisgender couples. This is what we call "heteronormativity". This means that queer couples have often been left out, unseen, and unrepresented.
Queer people experience overwhelming rates of discrimination, exclusion and mental health challenges. Thus, it is important for allies to understand the positive role they can play in re-writing the narrative and celebrating queer identities, especially on their wedding day.
Friendly Vs. Inclusive
Let's start by looking at the difference between being simply LGBTQ+ friendly and LGBTQ+ inclusive.
Calling yourself an "LGBTQ+ Friendly wedding photographer" likely means that you're accepting of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. You won't turn anyone away, and that's great! But just because you won't turn them away doesn't mean that you're actively inclusive.
In order to be an LGBTQ+ inclusive wedding photographer, you need to go above and beyond just being "friendly". You need to create a safe and welcoming space for queer couples, one where they know that they can be their authentic selves without judgement or discrimination. This requires having a deep and nuanced understanding of queer identities, as well as a comprehensive inclusion strategy in your business.
Being a queer-inclusive wedding photographer:
Here are a few pointers to help you on your journey to being an inclusive wedding photographer that celebrates LGBTQ+ couples.
Respect everybody's pronouns
When you're meeting with a couple for the first time, make sure to check with them what their pronouns are so that you can use them correctly throughout your interactions with them. Using the correct pronouns is essential for making everybody feel respected and included.
Adopt inclusive language
Just like with pronouns, be mindful of the language you use. For example, when talking about the couple's big day, instead of saying "the bride and groom" say "the happy couple."
Educate yourself on queer culture
Take some time to educate yourself on queer culture and history so that you can be a more informed ally. This will not only make you more comfortable working with LGBTQ+ couples but also help you capture their unique story in a more authentic way.
Avoid making assumptions
Every couple is different, so don't assume that just because a couple is queer they want to do things differently than a heterosexual couple would on their wedding day. Learn to ask open-ended questions about their wedding choices and go from there.
Advocate for inclusion
Show your support for LGBTQ+ rights by speaking up when you see somebody being excluded or marginalized. For example, if somebody makes an offensive joke about queer people at a wedding, call them out on it. Little actions like this can create big changes in the long run.
We're just scratching the surface...
It is very hard to convey how to be fully inclusive of LGBTQ+ couples in your wedding business in a single blog post. And truthfully, this stuff is way too important to be treating it like a checkbox exercise.
This is why I created Queer Wedding Ally Training. This training teaches the 7-day framework to “inclusify” your wedding business without feeling awkward or tokenistic. You'll learn how to create a safe and welcoming wedding business for queer couples, as well as about queer culture and history.
If you want to learn more about how you can become an LGBTQ+ inclusive wedding professional, will you consider joining Queer Wedding Ally Training?