Updated: Mar 8, 2022
Love is love. We hear it all over the place, don’t we? “Love is love” is to now, as “eat pray love” is to 2006, but what does it mean? Do we follow it, uphold it, and honor it? Do predominantly heterosexually run wedding companies, conducting business with predominantly heterosexual clients, truly know how to make the LGBTQIAP+ community feel seen, heard, and valued? The answer ranges anywhere from a hard “no'' to an insecure “yes, and…”
This industry, in its bones, was created to uphold the sanctity of marriage for only one type of love. It was designed to include some and exclude a lot of others. Weddings are a celebration of love that, up until embarrassingly recently, have only been for heterosexual couples. I’m fairly certain that the US was marrying off penguins at the zoo before queer love was legally acknowledged…penguins. This is a gross truth, and strive as this industry may to outrun our dirty, non-inclusive past (and present), it waits for us at every turn. We desperately need to address how fucked up this journey has been, and continues to be, for marginalized individuals. We also need to address the role the wedding industry has played, and continues to play, in slighting the glorious LGBTQIAP+ community with our language, images, traditions, values, partners, marketing, affiliations, and celebrations. We cannot cover up, or undo, this history with rainbow flags and cute slogans (several Texan school boards have already called dibs on radically erasing uncomfortable history, and it isn’t going well). That being said, we will start with this: the wedding industry has done the LGBTQIAP+ community dirty. We are sorry. We are sorry for everything we have done, as an industry, consciously and unconsciously, to make this group, and any "othered" group, feel unseen, unheard, uncomfortable, and/or unwelcome. We at Kaleidoscope Events are committed to educating ourselves and being an ally for inclusiveness across the board. We have graciously taken the Jove Meyer Events’ Ally Pledge; not to protect our own self image, but to actually do a better job at our job - spreading love. We are committed to doing and being better. We have done some research and have had the honor to partner with Jove Meyer of Jove Meyer Events to learn how we, as our own small business and as an industry, can do better. Below you will find some incredible, hard hitting advice from Jove himself.
How to be an inclusive industry (and overall better human beings) Be a cycle breaker. Be a trailblazer. If our conversations with Jove circled around only one theme, it would be this - be a cycle breaker and a trailblazer. We cannot succumb to any judgements, about anyone, before we simply take the time to get to know them. Jove stated “All couples and vendors should be treated with the same kindness and curiosity, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and or gender expression. We should work to remove all assumptions about couples and how they want to celebrate, and instead lean into asking the right questions to understand who they are, their priorities, and how we can bring their love story, style, and personalities to life in an authentic way at their wedding.” This couldn’t be said any better, so we won’t even try. What concept, right? Why do we assume couples and individuals, of any kind, want the same things? Unless we are talking about a Starbucks order, we probably shouldn’t infer everyone is into it. You are who you work with. Consider this - A company promotes equality, but hangs a flier on the door of a mainstream, yet openly homophobic, establishment. Hmm. One of those things is off brand, wouldn't you say? The company would then have to decide which it’s going to be - are they true allies, or does that value come second to money and convenience? The wedding industry not only needs to know and care about the values of our vendors, but also intentionally choose who we hire, where we market, who we take on as clients and representatives, and who we affiliate/associate with. Is that hard work? Yes. Could we lose time and money doing the research and making a more expensive, but ethical, choice? Sure, probably. Will it help make the industry a safer place for everyone? Hell yes.
Do the damn work. Jove tells us “it’s easy to continue to do business as we always have, but it takes work and effort to combat the biases and hate that is deeply rooted in this country”. These are some damn facts. It is so easy for us, as an industry, and as humans, to take the easy road. To subconsciously turn the other cheek when the right path is new, scary, or inconvenient. On the other hand, we don’t always underperform as allies on purpose, do we? The embarrassing fact is that, when sitting in a place of privilege, it can be hard to see the ways we can help. Luckily, Jove gave us some practical steps we can take to successfully do our work: A) Don’t be part of the problem. Oftentimes, a great way to help is to simply not hinder. We can’t sit silently as our clients, vendors, teammates, affiliates, and publications make hateful comments. Moreover, we can’t sit silently while they don’t not make hateful comments. For example, if a teammate says “let’s do XYZ for our brides and grooms”, WE can suggest changing the language of the conversation to be more inclusive - not just for the world to see, but in that exact conversation, right then and there, in real time, when no one else is watching. We could, for instance, say “let’s say ‘couples’ instead of bride and groom”. Boom. Done. Not only would we be advocating for equality and inclusiveness, but we would also be opening up our vision as a company. The Knot wrote a beautiful article on inclusive terminology, featuring Jove Meyer’s himself. We have also put our research and conversations to practice and created our own list of alternative inclusive language.
B) Make yourself known. Jove tells us “we should all have a statement, clearly visible on our website and social platforms, that shows our commitment to love above hate. If we do not say it, it is easy to assume it is not important to you. Seeing a statement of support and inclusivity on your website is a welcome sign for “othered” individuals, and it shows them you support them and do not stand for hate". YES, and in that beautiful light, Jove has inspired us at KE to create our own pledge so that we can join the community of amazing industry leaders standing tall against discrimination. From a business standpoint, we may be fearful that taking a strong, permanent stance could impact our business, but that fear is a problem. Hateful people should have a hard time finding a business that supports their (lack of) values. We should want for hateful people to fuck right off, and for loving people to be drawn to us. Let’s nail our inclusive values right to our website’s door (subtext: no bullshit welcome here). After all, who would we rather make uncomfortable, a marginalized individual or a jerk?
C) 365, friends. We need to be inclusive, always. 365 days a year. We need to be intentional with everything we do, and everyone we work with, all year round. We cannot just pull out the stops during Pride month or Black History month. Attention during those months is a good start, but it is not a finish line.
_____________________________________________________________________ This is not everything that Jove, and countless others, have to offer us. And this is not over. The work we need to do as an industry is only just beginning. Speaking with Jove had us in complete awe of what it truly means to step into our ally power. Our young company looks forward to continuing to improve and do better. We would like to thank Jove Meyer for guiding us with such grace and tenacity.
The KE Team