Supplying an LGBTQ+ wedding – why is this even an issue?
This is a blog post I have debated writing for a little while. I know it’s a controversial subject for some people, but I feel it shouldn’t even be a matter for debate in 2019. Apparently, it still is though. And as I sit here typing this, whilst catching up on the final episode of Gentleman Jack, a show where the two female lead characters, and their romance, has captured the hearts of the nation, it seems even more ironic.
A couple of things have prompted me to think about this subject in the last week or so:
Firstly, I read an article that suggested that LGBTQ+ couples were still anxious about approaching suppliers for their wedding or civil ceremony because they couldn’t always be sure of the reception they would get. This makes me very sad. I understand that some people hold strong beliefs about certain things, but there are ways of saying to someone that you can not accommodate their request without allowing prejudice to creep in or make the customer feel uncomfortable. For example, I won’t make a cake with any reference to drugs, drug culture, gang violence or exploitation (I would probably have to hand back my MBE if I endorsed these things, but I wholeheartedly don’t). But if you ask me to make a cake with these themes, I will politely tell you I am fully booked for that date. I’m not here to judge.
Secondly, June was Pride month and in London last weekend the Pride parade celebrated 50 years since the Stonewall riots and was the most well-attended London Pride parade ever. Friends (both gay and straight) who were there commented how much fun they had, how phenomenal the noise was and how vibrant the parade was. London did itself proud. So why are some same-sex couples still uncomfortable about asking suppliers for services for their wedding or civil ceremony?
I don’t profess to have the answer to this, and I am not qualified to answer it. I just felt the need to get it out there that this should not be an issue. That for me, it isn’t an issue.
There are some organisations within the wedding industry, that for a (not insubstantial) fee will go through all your literature, social media and documents to ensure there is nothing contentious in there to dissuade LGBTQ+ couples from engaging your services. Once you pass their scrutiny you get a rainbow badge to display on your social media profiles and website to indicate to couples that you are “inclusive”. Debate about this on wedding supplier groups is divided: Some suppliers are all for it, wanting to show willing and demonstrate their inclusivity. Others are derisive that it is a money-making scheme and isn’t necessary. After all, positive discrimination is still discrimination, isn’t it? It smacks a little of assuming an LGBTQ+ couple will automatically be offended unless you aim something specifically at them. This irks me. Doesn’t it suggests that if you are not heterosexual you need to be spoon-fed assurances that your request for a product or service is as valid as anyone else’s? It suggests that people are looking for offence where none is intended. I don’t believe this to be true.
There are things we can all do as suppliers to make everyone feel we are approachable. Phraseology and terminology are a big part of this. Lots of wedding social media is aimed at brides, because heterosexual brides are still the biggest sector of the market planning their weddings (and as an industry, suppliers will aim to the widest part of the market to make their money). But grooms, heterosexual or same-sex, are now becoming more proactive. So, should we be using “brides” at all? Should we be using “grooms”? Would that alienate female same-sex couples? And what of those who identify as trans, non-binary or non-gender-specific? It can be a minefield, if you let it be. So why not just talk to people as people?
I’m not sure I’ve really given you a conclusion on this. I have probably just thrown some strong opinions at the screen and let them sit there! But hopefully it has got you thinking?
I will leave you with this: I have two sisters-in-law. Not because my husband has two sisters, but because his only sister is married to a woman. I can’t get more inclusive than that. The fact that neither of them like cake much is by-the-by (although her wife does make phenomenal jams and chutneys!).
Let me know what you think in the comments – all opinions are valid, you don’t have to agree with me.
Universal cakey love,
P.S. Why have I given you a picture of a Haribo cake on a blog about LGBTQ+ wedding cakes? A) It’s a pretty cool cake and B) I made it for a lovely customer to give to their husband. The fact that they were both men was totally irrelevant – they love each other, they love cake and they have a sense of humour. These are the important things.