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The influencers from the LGBTQ+ community are not afraid to talk about their identity. They also openly talk about issues, ranging from sexual taboo to gender fluidity, and are trying to educate the audiences about the norms of different identifications. Brands invest in influencer marketing heavily and influencers belonging to this community are also a part of them.

So, what uniqueness do these influencers bring to the table? did a deep dive in order to understand what their USP is.

June is celebrated as Pride Month; the month of colours and it is evident in the marketing campaigns of different brands. The logos of brands change this month, and many brands try to push away the stigma around the LGBTQ+ community by educating their consumers through various campaigns.

Upon being asked what do the influencers from this community bring to the table as opposed to others, many said that they are true to their forms and they love showcasing their identity. Manish from Vagabondboiz said, “We try to blend the brands' message in a way that we are also sending a message on behalf of the entire community. We take it as a responsibility to voice it in the right manner so people out there should feel comfortable about themselves.”

Similarly, model and influencer Sandra Nandeibam said, “I am a fashion model and I represent the trans community in this world of glamour. I bring my truest self to work each day. I want every non-binary and trans person to feel comfortable in their own skin.”

Another very notable influencer said there should be no discrimination between influencers from this cohort and others. An artist is an artist, and it is because of these labels that the opportunities they come across are limited.

The community sees many top brands vying to form a connect with them so that they can be perceived as ‘woke’. Influencers from this community are mostly into lifestyle, fashion and travelling, and brands from these segments collaborate with them. 

Being from a sensitive cohort, which is still finding its place in the minds of the people, there are various challenges, stereotypes and clichéd assumptions made by brands. Talking about the challenges, Manish said, “Brands think that every person, especially a man, belonging to the community applies make-up, while we respect other influencers but that is not something which is true. So, this for us is a stereotype and we mostly reject collaboration with a make-up brand.”

Ann Bharadwaj, a theatre artist and fashion stylist, spoke about the challenges he faced as an artist and influencer belonging to the community. He said, “Initially when I started posting about my collaborations, there were many negative comments wherein people used to throw cuss words. Often, I used to feel anxious and very conscious about what I posted and who I collaborated with. Later, I started ignoring negative comments and focused primarily on the positive side of it, that I get to voice my opinions and collaborate with brands which many people out there don’t get the opportunity of. For me dealing with the negativity of social media was a major challenge.” 

The pay gap is totally inverse when it comes to influencer marketing, many a times the female influencers are paid more than the males due to the reach and engagement and also due to the vast variety of brands present for the female consumers.

So, is there any difference in the pay for influencers in the LGBTQ+ community than other influencers? Manish said there’s no such apparent discrimination in pay. Similarly, Sandra said, “The pay gap isn’t the challenge, the major challenge is to get a break. Many brands include 1-2 trans models in the fashion events just to showcase the diversity, and that is toxic.”

Many influencers from the community are celebrating Pride month and telling their journey, here are a few posts that we came across - 

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A post shared by Pritam and Manish (@vagabondboiz)

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A post shared by SANDRA NANDEIBAM (SHE/HER) (@sandra_nandeibam)

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A post shared by Sushant Divgikr/ Rani KoHEnur (@sushantdivgikr)

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A post shared by Shantanu Dhope (@shantanudhope)

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A post shared by ZOYALOBO (@zoya_lobo_01)

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A post shared by ɴᴀᴋꜱʜᴀᴛʀᴀ ʙᴀɢᴡᴇ (@nakshatra.bagwe)

The country is still opening up to the idea of LGBTQIA+ and trying to normalise its members without stereotyping them. Opportunities to influencers from this cohort are not limited, Manish shared that they have been getting opportunities from a variety of brands and are even called out to talk about the community at some places. Ann is starting to get paid collaborations as well as more work in his field. However, there are still major issues which need to be addressed.

Sandra said, “From far it does look like that the fashion and movie industry is very inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community, but it isn’t so. There is a lot of misrepresentation going on. For instance, Bollywood still casts Cishet people to play Trans roles. Likewise, in the fashion industry too usually there is one trans person amongst 10-12 Cishet models. Therefore, the inclusivity and diversity percentage are extremely minimal and superficial. Also, many brands remember the queer community only during Pride month or Valentine’s Day and overlook them for the rest of 11 months. Brands and the fashion industry need to relook this approach.” 

“The fashion industry in India very recently started welcoming LGBTQ+, plus-sized, and specially-abled models. The doors of inclusivity have just started to open, there is a long way to go. However, the representation is quite minimal now and that needs to increase,” she added.