Media, business outreach to LGBT market growing

Wisconsin Gazette

Thanks to straight allies in the local media, Wisconsin’s LGBT population is gaining more widespread attention than ever. That speaks to the desirability of the gay market, which numerous studies have shown is loyal to marketers who reach out to them, and it’s welcome recognition of the vital role LGBT citizens play in our communities. WiG gives a shoutout to two of those media outlets.

In March, Milwaukee Magazine featured two brides on its cover as part of a story about the economic benefits that legalizing same-sex marriage would bring to the state. The magazine conducted original research and found that marriage equality here could result in almost $44 million in spending during the first three years of legalization. Their research is confirmed by the Williams Institute of the University of California – Los Angeles, whose work has repeatedly shown a comparable rate of return from same-sex marriage in other states.

Nationwide, people who have never heard of the economic benefits that come with doing the right thing are becoming aware. Wisconsin badly needs that kind of boost, and now fairness advocates have numbers to dangle in front of equality obstructionists who claim to be “pro-business.”

Several months ago, the Shepherd Express hired Colin Murray as a sales consultant. He’s an out gay man who also serves as the executive director of Buy Local Dane. And this week, the Shepherd launched a new LGBT events and advice column by the popular Milwaukee drag personality Dear Ruthie. Portrayed by professional food writer and actor Mark Hagen, the popular Ruthie is sure to enliven the Shepherd’s pages. In addition to his considerable talent, Hagen is a good egg. As the brassy redhead Ruthie, he’s raised untold sums of money for local nonprofit organizations. He’s a smart catch for any publication.

The Shepherd Express also recently joined the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce as a gold member. More than 120 businesses around the state have joined the chamber in its first year-and-a-half of existence. Ranging from small mom-and-pop shops to such corporate giants as AT&T and MillerCoors, those businesses are in effect showing their confidence in the strength of our market.

Here at WiG, launched exactly four-and-a-half years ago, we welcome our newest media allies and celebrate the ongoing success we’ve had as Wisconsin’s go-to progressive/LGBT publication. Last week, we were proud to learn we’re being honored with eight Milwaukee Press Club Awards for our work in 2013. That means we’ve won a total of 17 awards in three years from the nation’s oldest — and the state’s premier — press club. There’s nothing more gratifying than having your peers recognize the quality of your work.

Many, many thanks to the hundreds of distribution sites and advertisers who have made us the fastest-growing and most honored alternative newsprint publication in Milwaukee. And, as always, special thanks to our mentor/CEO Leonard Sobczak, whose financial support and unflinching integrity guide us every step of the way.