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While 64% of adults think it’s positive for the LGBTQ+ community to be visible in advertisements, a considerable 72% of the LGBTQ+ community think the way they are presented in advertising is tokenistic, according to research commissioned by the Gay Times and Karmarama.

The study was conducted by YouGov and covered a total sample size of 2,052 adults based in Great Britain, of which 740 were LGBTQ+ respondents.

Over recent years, increasing numbers of companies have risen to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community through glossy campaigns and themed Pride merch, yet it appears there is still a long way to go until all efforts are authentic. 

As society becomes more attuned to the LGBTQ+ community, authentically representing the group in advertising is more important than ever, to normalise gender and sexual individuality. 

Today, significantly fewer 18-24-year-olds identify as completely heterosexual (36%) than the generation before, while 48% identify as something in between. 

There has been a 400% increase in trans representation since previous generations, with one in ten 18-24-year-olds identifying as transgender.

It appears that advertising still needs to catch up to this generational shift, as the study found 72% of the LGBTQ+ community think the way they are represented in advertising is tokenistic. 

Considering a 2017 study conducted by UM London and the dating app Grindr found majority of British gay and bisexual men felt the LGBT+ community was ‘invisible’ in advertising, and change has been slower than is needed. 

Discussing the findings, Gay Times’ chief exec Tag Warner said: “These research findings may seem surprising to some, but they absolutely align and support the continued connection we have to our queer audience here in the UK and overseas.

“The binary world many of us have become accustomed to ('gay' and 'straight') is no longer relevant to most young people. This powerful research should be the catalyst to step-change thinking for advertising and marketing leaders when it comes to LGBTQ+. In tandem with Karmarama and YouGov, we’re keen to further the understanding that LGBTQ+ related media is both vital, but often misdelivers.”

Adding to this, Karmarama’s chief exec Ben Bilboul commented: “A slew of businesses now slap a rainbow flag on their logo once a year in recognition of the powerful pink pound. 

"But while it’s encouraging to see brands make an effort to reach and represent the LGBTQ+ community around Pride, this needs to be a year-round endeavour and it needs to be done in a way that feels authentic. If you want to build a brand today, society expects brands to step up and positively represent the LGBTQ+ community.”