The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted Black communities and businesses across the United States. That’s why in September 2021, GLAAD launched “Changemakers,” a 4-part video series spotlighting Black LGBTQ small business owners and their impact within their local communities before and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
When creating the project, Abdool Corlette, GLAAD’s Creative Director and Director of the “Changemakers” series, wanted to use it as an opportunity to both uplift the stories of small businesses and showcase how corporations can show up for Black LGBTQ small businesses owners in authentic and meaningful ways. As a result, GLAAD partnered with Ally, the digital financial services company, to release the series. As part of the partnership, Ally donated $10,000 to each “Changemaker” business to empower them to continue making positive change through their business into their communities.
The “Changemakers” series is produced by NEON, GLAAD's ongoing digital content series that aims to increase the visibility of Black LGBTQ people. NEON leverages the power of storytelling and GLAAD’s platform to create multi-dimensional, accurate portraits of the Black LGBTQ experience. In a series of intimate interviews, the new “Changemakers” series aims to amplify the stories of local heroes, and send messages of support and inspiration to LGBTQ and Black-owned small businesses.
GLAAD strategically worked to highlight different small businesses across the U.S. who either started or were forced to reconfigure during the pandemic. It was necessary to highlight small businesses in different parts of the U.S. to highlight the impact that Black LGBTQ small business owners are making so many communities, while also showcasing how they have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, each Changemaker involved was selected with the intention to highlight several important themes and issues throughout the series, including the importance of small businesses, creating equal access to business opportunities for small business owners, and how major corporations can do good and reinvest in local communities.
Starting in September 2021 through January 2022, GLAAD premiered a new “Changemaker” video each month across its YouTube and social media accounts. The series spotlights a wide range of unique Black LGBTQ-owned small businesses across the country, including:
Episode 1: K.NGSLEY, a first-generation Nigerian-American and a New York–based creator working to advance liberation for the Black community, the queer community, and people of color. Kingsley is the founder and creator behind K.NGSLEY, a Black-owned brand aiming to reclaim and redefine the Black, queer, femme body and to create the tangible, direct support to communities in need.
Episode 2: BLK MKT Vintage, a Brooklyn based antique/vintage concept shop, specializing in collectibles, cast-offs and curiosities, which represent the richness of Black history and lived experience. Curated by founders Jannah Handy and Kiyanna Stewart, the collection includes found items like vintage literature, vinyl records, clothing, art, housewares/decor, furniture and other goods.
Episode 3: Black, Gifted & Whole, a non-profit founded by Guy Anthony to empower young queer Black men by acknowledging, celebrating and affirming their whole selves. Since its inception in 2015, Black, Gifted & Whole has helped over 19 students realize their college dreams and continues to be a beacon long after their freshman year. “We have literally built a pipeline from high school to college to the workforce,” Anthony explains and adds, “This is my love letter to Black, Queer students.”
Episode 4: Chef Joya, a premiere vegan chef from Charlotte, North Carolina. Specializing in soul food, Caribbean, African and Latin cuisines, Chef Joya brings comfort food into green eating and loves to teach others how to find joy in doing the same.
To expand the reach of the series, GLAAD and Ally partnered together on press outreach to achieve strong earned media results. The goal was to reach both national and local audiences, shaping a powerful narrative about the importance of supporting Black LGBTQ small business owners, as well as uplifting changemakers who were making a difference in their own communities. Similarly, GLAAD and Ally worked closely on social media strategy to ensure that the series was reaching the largest audience possible online.
The Changemakers series garnered more than 262,000 social impressions across GLAAD’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube pages. Collectively, Changemaker social posts received 31,000+ engagements and saw a 100% positive/neutral sentiment from both GLAAD and Ally social channels.
The video series received an uproar of national and local coverage garnering 12.8M+ impressions from both mainstream and LGBTQ+ publications including AdAge, The Advocate, OutVoices, Wake-up Call with Katie Couric, and local publications including DBuisness, Detroit Free Press, Fox46 and CharlotteInno. The momentum continues with interest from the Kelly Clarkson Show, Spectrum News 1 and the Charlotte Observer all eager to feature the series.
The series reached over 4.5M impressions through promotion on Audacy streaming and 1.3M impressions through the display units on Audacy.com reaching a unique audience of both LGBTQ individuals and allies of the community.
Ally’s community hub article which houses the video series has seen a 92% positive sentiment with avg reader spending 2min 6seconds on the article which is :05 higher than avg. time spent for all articles on the hub in 2021. Comments on the article have expressed gratitude for Ally’s efforts uplifting diverse voices and how other corporate brands should follow Ally’s lead.
An influx of support on social from thought leaders who identify or are allies of the LGBTQ+ community including AJ Gibson, Ryan Mitchell, AdAge, GLAAD, and Ally executive suite.