Jessica Heygate
Mar 16, 2023

At SXSW, LGBTQ+ programming focuses on fundamental rights

Nonprofit Do the WeRQ, which created an alternative SXSW calendar to draw LGBTQ+ programming together, says the community is in survival mode.

At SXSW, LGBTQ+ programming focuses on fundamental rights

A large proportion of LGBTQ+-focused programming and conversations at SXSW has concentrated on protecting fundamental rights to education, marriage, medical care and the military, reflecting a more “severe” tone than prior years, according to Do the WeRQ, a U.S. nonprofit aiming to increase LGBTQ+ representation in marketing and advertising.

The organization consolidated all LGBTQ+-focused programming at SXSW in a Google Calendar to make it easier for the community to find each other.

It found discussions on diversifying the tech industry and queer representation in film and art. Yet the overarching theme was one of survival, as the rights of the LGBTQ+ community are rolled back across the U.S.

There are several sessions dedicated to fighting for trans rights, including allowing transgender individuals to serve in the U.S. military. Other programming centers on creator pay inequity and improving representation in advertising.

“A lot of the conversations we're having here are about our basic survival — our voting rights, our very right to be in the military, the language of discussing us and the fact that we exist,” Graham Nolan, a freelance PR and communications consultant, tells Campaign US.

“We are so busy trying to survive during a time where we are under unprecedented legal attack that it's hard for us to jump into those next-level topics. To take something like psychedelics, which is changing the world, and to give the queer perspective on it, which I promise you is additive,” he adds.

“We are under attack, that is a reality, so it’s important to talk about that,” adds Kate Wolff, founder and CEO of Lupine Creative. “But it's also important to not just be so severe all the time. Let's talk about queer joy. Let's talk about what brings us together. Let's talk about what's making everybody excited. Let's talk about how we shape culture.”

Wolff and Nolan co-chair Do the WeRQ. In the video below, shot during SXSW 2023, they discuss the innovative ways the LGBTQ+ community finds each other at major events and how brands and events can better tap into the queer community.

Campaign US

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