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Coming out of the Closet

Exploring LGBT Issues in Strategic Communication with Theory and Research

Natalie T.J. Tindall and Richard D. Waters

Despite representing significant portions of the advertising, marketing, and public relations work force, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) community has largely been ignored by scholarly research in strategic communications. With the exception of case studies that document strategies that can be used to secure the LGBT consumer dollar, little has been done to understand the LGBT community’s experiences with strategic communications efforts. This edited volume fills this gap by sharing research on the impact and interaction of campaigns and programming from advertising, marketing, and public relations on internal (e.g., practitioners and employees) and external (e.g., consumers, activists) stakeholders from the LGBT community. Several chapters in this volume highlight a significant change in the focus of strategic communications that recognizes the long-term benefits of having legitimate partnerships; others, however, counter this optimistic trend by discussing the continued struggles of practitioners working in strategic communication and the LGBT community at large.
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Chapter 11: Who We Were Is Who We Are: Uses of History in Philadelphia’s LGBT Tourism Marketing


Byron Lee

Many cities market themselves as tourism destinations for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, a community whose estimated economic impact through tourism in the United States was worth over US$65 billion in 2011 (Community Marketing, Inc., 2011). Starting in the mid-1990s, North American cities have focused on tourism, particularly LGBT tourism, as a method of strengthening their economies. Widespread LGBT-targeted tourism marketing coincides with an increase in LGBT visibility in media (Guaracino, 2007).

In the US, cities known as LGBT destinations are conventionally defined as gay resorts. Gay resorts have a history of being LGBT vacation locations, or locations of major annual parties, such as Palm Springs, Provincetown, Fire Island, or Key West (Waitt & Markwell, 2006, pp. 241–242). Gay meccas are historically important cities to the LGBT community, where major events occurred, such as the Stonewall Riots in New York, or places where LGBT folks have historically lived openly, such as San Francisco. Cities without the gay resort or gay mecca status, such as Philadelphia, also use notions of LGBT history to mark themselves as relevant to LGBT travelers. Although it may seem that history is an obvious selling feature, its presence in LGBT tourism is suspect. Whose history is being sold, and how do the city and the LGBT community come together with regard to a historical perspective or narrative?

LGBT political visibility in North America is commonly measured by its media representation. This case study...

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