From the many questions and encounters I’ve had with other photographers seeking information on working with LGBTQ+ couples, this is a blog series intended to be a resource to wedding photographers, though hopefully educating all wedding vendors.
And so, whether you have zero, little, or some knowledge of working with the LGBTQ+ community, you’re in the right place for whatever stage you’re at. I’ll share with you some of my most important tips that I’ve learned along the way — much of which stems from my own personal experiences of being a part of, and working with, the LGBTQ+ community.
The LGBTQ+ community is comprised of a diverse range of folks with varying sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. Because I believe this understanding is the foundation to a beautiful relationship with your couples, we’ll start here.
Gender is a spectrum, with a wide range of identities.
When working with new clients, it is important to be respectful and aware of your language. Below you’ll find a list of terms and their meanings to better understand how individuals may identify.
IMPORTANT: When meeting someone new, it’s best to listen for, and ask, how people identify themselves. Further, apply gender neutral language until the gender identities are clarified.
Apply It: When you meet with a new client, in this instance let’s assume this client is a feminine presenting bride. She may have a soon-to-be husband, but she may have soon-to-be-wife or spouse. So, ask about her partner using gender-neutral language. “Tell me about your partner! What is their name? What are they like?” This will create a much more inclusive and open environment for her, and all customers. (Bonus: If said bride does have a future husband, this positive, open impression could still lead to future referrals for her LGBTQ+ friends and family.)
Pronouns (he, she, they, ze, etc.,) are a very important element of one’s identity.
HE/HIM/HIS — Use when the subject identifies as male.
SHE/HER/HERS — Use when the subject identifies as female.
THEY/THEIR/THEM — Use singularly as a gender-free / nonbinary pronoun.
ZE/ZIR/ZIS/ZIESELF — Commonly used alternative gender-free pronoun.
Unsure of the pronouns to use for a new client and/or the members in their wedding party?
1. Ask! “What pronouns do you use?” is a great way to inquire, showing attention and care. Please note: do not ask for one’s “preferred” pronouns. Preferred implies optional, of which pronouns and gender are not.
2. Listen for how their partner/friends address them. If their partner/friends uses she / he / they / ze, so should you.
Understanding gender can be difficult, and so, you may encounter family members that do not to use the correct pronouns. However, through your continued usage and support, not only will your couples and/or wedding party members appreciate you and feel accepted, it may help sway others to use the correct pronouns as well.
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QUESTIONS? Post a comment below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
IDEAS for future posts? Email me!
NOTE: All thoughts and views expressed within this blog series are my own.
These are not facts, but rather, opinions and recommendations based on my personal experiences.