As an industry, we envision the future for clients. It’s time we focused our talent and voice on articulating the queer future for ourselves, write Scott Mathews, engagement director at Huge, and James Ryan, creative director at Huge
Today was unimaginable yesterday.
Imagine that it's the summer of 1971. You just got off a bus at Penn Station with hopes and dreams of the Big Apple bringing you a sense of security, community and the freedom that anonymity offered. Acceptance was a hard thing to hope for at the time, and ideas like marriage equality, housing and employment protections, or gender-affirming healthcare were far from the mainstream conversation. But many people in 1971 had to articulate a vision and use their voices to create what the future for queer people should look like in 2021, just 50 years later.
Now, in the global awakening from Covid-19, it’s our opportunity to redefine the queer status quo in the next 50 years. In order to do so, as an industry, we must use the same muscles we flex as creatives for our clients to envision and manifest our queer community’s future.
Three ways to help the LGBTQ+ community, as we take strides toward the queer future - Advocate, Inspire, Act:
Advocate like you work.
Our job as creatives is to create future visions for our clients’ brands and products, and we have a process for doing it.
It starts by creating a visible horizon that inspires confidence by synthesizing various inputs from user research, cultural trends, data analytics and leading beacons. For example, we look to users’ unmet needs and our clients’ capabilities to define the future of retail. Whether it’s reimagining retail spaces for clients in Asia or creating new products to give financial access and empowerment to users, we put this process to work every day to advance our client’s objectives.
2021 offers a window of opportunity for new visions to take hold. The status quo has been temporarily suspended. Just look at how the world of work and office culture are poised to be disrupted.
We have this opening to inject a vision of what should be in place of a status quo that was not what it could be. We have a lot to move past: Anti-trans legislation, high levels of cultural division, and police violence that affects so many communities.
At Huge, we create value by encouraging clients to act with faith and go where quantitative models alone could never reliably lead them. We know the limits of what can be achieved today - and we create a vision beyond those limits. Articulating that vision redefines what’s possible and puts momentum behind change.
Turn up the volume on inspiration.
To celebrate Pride this year at Huge, we’ve organised a series of events centered on the theme of ‘the queer future’. Our aim, in our own small way, is to spark conversations and create a safe space for our voices to rise together and articulate what this queer future will be. These monthly activations (i.e., conversations with queer futurists and filmmakers, discussions with a politician leading the charge for LGBTQ+ rights in Colombia, seminars with doctors working on queer-positive parenting and public health, and being inspired by technologists working at the forefront of infusing inclusive ideals into product management practice) all have one purpose – to generate conversation around our queer future.
And so far, these activations are doing just that, surfacing two things in cohesion that seem to confuse some observers. This starts with defining two important terms: intersectionality and diversity. In our community, these terms mean that each person may articulate their vision for a queer future different. Don’t be fooled – the uniting aspiration behind every articulation is a demand for dignity from the broader world. We want to be judged on our merits as individuals, not put into boxes. This does not mean assimilation, either. To anyone reading this as a way to better understand pride and the LGBTQ community, we want to demystify it for you. You don’t need to know every acronym or walk on eggshells. All you need to do to identify as an ally is act with the intention of respect and dignity for diverse humans.
As a community and as creators, we have to make an intentional plan to look forward. Through words, code, or images, we invite you all to engage in your own visioning process this Pride and beyond. Value the power of speaking out loud. Acknowledge that rough drafts are part of the process -- just as you do in your work. Rather than hesitate in the face of potential rejection, see this as a uniquely open moment in time for your vision to come to life.
When we put together a vision, we don’t start by defining how it will get done. Starting there will only stifle the confidence needed to act on it. Understand that our role as creatives is to provoke action with ideas. No need for a tightly curated deck. Speak roughly, with passion and advocacy.
Scott Mathews is engagement director at Huge and James Ryan is creative director at Huge