Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Within and outside the LGBTQ2+ communities, we each must carry the responsibility to own our own learning. When talking about becoming a more inclusive wedding vendor for LGBTQ2+ folx, this means taking the initiative to do our own research, questioning our assumptions, and then taking steps to implement our new learning into our business practices.

Unintentionally, we can reinforce stereotypes and bias in the most subtle (and sometimes not so subtle ways), and there’s nothing that’ll start you off on the wrong footing more than putting your clients in the position of correcting you because you’ve rushed to judgement. For example, some clients who are lesbians and cisgendered have shared the “othering” they’ve encounter when they mention their children.

Confusion is often cleared up at the expense of our clients facing a barrage of questions of who, what, where, when, and how. Curiosity crosses the line, and clients can find themselves having to answer invasive questions about their personal lives or are held responsible for re-educating their wedding vendor. It’s not the responsibility of our clients to mentor us to become more inclusive, nor should they be on the receiving end of our 101 questions about how we can do better.

Okay, now this next paragraph might seem to contradict what we just said, but … there’re going to be times where you’re just going to have to ask clients how you can best acknowledge their needs. Not everyone’s identity, expression or orientation fits neatly under the umbrella of terms available, and in case you haven’t noticed, the acronym is getting longer reflecting our ever-expanding ways of defining and naming ourselves and our relationships against the heternomative standard, and gendered binary.

But heed this warning … you only ask questions to the extent that the answers are relevant to the services you offer!

We’re going to repeat that - you only ask questions to the extent that the answers are relevant to the services you offer.

Questions should be open ended, and do not imply the answer in the question itself, e.g. “I know this likely won’t apply to you but …. “.

Instead, you can begin from a place of open inquiry:

• “I wonder if you’d like to tell me your about your preference for …”

• “Would you like to share with me any information you’d think helpful moving forward as your vendor?”

• “Are there any topics we haven’t talked about that you’d like addressed?”

• “Would you like me to review some possibilities or options clients have found useful/helpful”

We’re all learning, and that’s part of the human experience. So is making mistakes. None of us will get it all right, all the time. That’s an impossible standard. We can proceed with an open mind and heart, take responsibility for our own learning, and when needed ask questions with consideration and regard for the privacy and dignity of your clients.

Further reading

Rainbow Health Ontario

The Trevor Project

2 Spirits

LGBTQ2+ studies: Getting Started

Rainbow Resource Centre

Safe Zone Project