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Coming out of the Closet

Exploring LGBT Issues in Strategic Communication with Theory and Research

Edited By 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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Epilogue: Looking Back, Moving Forward: New Directions in LGBT Research


Richard D. Waters

Reflecting on the 15 research projects and essays presented in this volume, it becomes evident that two common themes emerged in the examination of the LGBT community’s interactivity with strategic communication, even though the chapters’ focal points are quite different. Those themes focused on an industry-wide mistreatment of the LGBT community, who appear to have responded through social media, community centers, and employee-affinity groups to leverage the power of the LGBT community at the grassroots level.

Minority groups have often experienced discrimination and acts of prejudice by the majority, and members of the LGBT community are no different. In many of the chapters presented in this volume, instances of mistreatment echo throughout the authors’ writings. Beginning in the first section, Waters found that gay and lesbian employees experienced significant levels of harassment, ranging from sabotage and verbal attacks to physical violence. The mistreatment discussed in Edwards and L’Etang’s chapter regarding hidden sexualities and imagined heteronormative personas was realized in Tindall’s chapter, as lesbian and bisexual practitioners expressed concern over workplace mistreatment as they were pressured into downplaying or hiding their sexualities. Additionally, these female employees often expressed that they were tasked with working as many hours as their straight and gay male counterparts; however, their time and work was not valued as much as males based on the numbers of participants who experienced a glass or lavender ceiling.

Moving from the practitioners to the industry itself, mistreatment surfaced yet again. Wrigley...

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