Whether you’re a part of the LGBTQ+ community or an ally, you’ve decided that you want your career to reflect how much you care about the community. You don’t want just a workplace that’s LGBTQ+ friendly—you want a job that actively fights for the equality, rights and representation of the community.
Before we introduce you to these fantastic careers, keep in mind that there are plenty of ways to make a positive impact on the LGBTQ+ community without making it your career. You can volunteer your time, make it a passion project on the side or speak out as an activist when issues matter to you.
For those interested in media and publishing
1. Editor or writer for LGBTQ+ publications
There are so many publications—both print and online—that are either focused entirely on the LGBTQ+ community, or have a strong thematic focus of queer and diversity themes. Whether you want to work for a major print magazine like OUT or Curve Magazine, or an indie online publisher like Autostraddle, your options are endless. You could even start your own!
Sam Dylan Finch, an editor for Everyday Feminism, a writer for Ravishly and the founder of Let’s Queer Things Up!, started his career in LGBTQ+ online media almost by accident. Finch began LQTU when he was studying in graduate school—and the blog just took off and went viral. From there, Finch began reaching out to editors, and they began reaching out to him. “I had proven that I could hold my own in this sphere, especially after I went viral, and opportunities started to emerge. I took advantage of as many of those opportunities as I could, especially the ones that were paid,” he says.
Finch doesn’t have a typical workday, and does a lot of social media management and marketing in addition to editing and writing. He says that he made sure his work always “left and impression” and let editors know he was available for more—which is how he started doing social media and editing for Everyday Feminism. “The key is being flexible and building as diverse a skill set as you possibly can,” he says. “Writers in online media are seldom just writers. Learn as much as you can.”
Erin Faith Wilson, a writer for AfterEllen and The Advocate, says when you’re starting out, even if you’re not writing for a queer publication yet, you need to make sure your work reflects that inclusivity. “If writing for LGBTQ pubs is what you want to do, then make sure your blog posts are inclusive of LGBTQ community, the same goes with any ideas you are pitching to an editor,” says Wilson. “Whatever you want to write about/who you want to write for, make sure at least some of your clips reflect that.”
Lucy Hallowell, another writer for AfterEllen, fell into writing for online queer media after she tweeted AfterEllen’s editor-in-chief, Trish Bendix, about the series White Collar. She began recapping the show for the site. Hallowell has a day job in addition to her writing—so it’s important to keep in mind that you might nor start out as a writer full-time, but it’s okay to work up to that if it’s what you really want.
Hallowell encourages those who want to get started not to be shy, and to ask question. Reach out to writers they admire and ask for advice. And practice—a lot. “Your voice and your skill is only going to come from doing it over and over,” she says. “And give yourself space to suck. I guarantee you will suck a lot. The only thing that’s bad about sucking is if you don’t learn from it.”
2. Author or publisher of queer books
If you’ve always wanted to write a novel and you also know you couldn’t do it without exploring queer themes, you’re not alone!
Kate Scelsa, author of Fans of the Impossible Life, always knew she wanted to write and always felt her books would reflect her experiences as a part of the LGBTQ+ community.
For those who are looking to become authors in this space, Scelsa says, “I would advise anyone who is interested in writing queer themed books to spend some time volunteering (if they can) at their local feminist or queer bookstore or press.” She also says to start a writing group and share your work with like-minded people, which will motivate you to keep writing.
And for those more interested in the publishing side, as an editor, literary agent, or marketer of queer books, Scelsa suggests internships at literary agencies and publishing houses, and then to show your commitment and focus to diverse works.
For those interested in nonprofits and activism
There are so many different roles at nonprofit organizations, which offers a lot of flexibility when you want to initially get involved. Are you more interested in the financial side, in getting donations, or are you more of an event planner? Chances are, you can find an LGBTQ+ nonprofit organization at which to show off your skills!
Grace Manger, director of content and development at Everyone Is Gay and The Parents Project, makes sure that both websites have new content every week, and that the content is accessible, comprehensive, inclusive and relevant to their audiences.
Manger started as an intern for Everyone Is Gay and The Parents Project, taking over the content and development role when the last manager left the position. “I really believe in using the Internet as a platform for change,” Manger says. “I know how isolating it can be to be queer or trans and not have anyone in your physical surroundings to relate to. The Internet is magical in that sense; It forms communities and fosters change in ways that aren’t possible offline.”
The most important thing if you’re interested in a career in nonprofit or activism is to realize that this kind of work is difficult, but often very worthwhile. You may not be able to make it your full-time career straight out of college, and it’s okay to work another job (or two!) while you build up your experience. You should also follow your passion when it comes to activist work, because it is hard work, and something you really want to feel invested in. “My other advice is to go where you’re needed,” Manger says. “Are there not enough resources for a specific topic or identity intersection? Do it yourself.”
Diana Denza, a youth outreach coordinator at National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) and a volunteer for The Trevor Project, says that nonprofits are looking to make sure you can handle the often hectic, more than 9-to-5 lifestyle of working at a nonprofit.
Denza works on Proud2BMe.org for NEDA, managing the site, social media and getting programs established on college campuses. For the Trevor Project, she also takes chat requests from young people in crisis—many of whom are transgender and live in unaccepting environments—and helps screen new volunteers.
Denza stresses getting involved early as a volunteer if you want to work in the nonprofit world. “You have to wear many hats at nonprofits, so get as much experience as possible,” she says. “Strong graphic design and writing skills are always in demand at nonprofits, so try to strengthen those skills by freelancing or taking design classes.”
Manger agrees completely. “A big part about working in non-profits is that you wear a million different hats,” she says. “Your day-to-day roles are almost never as clearly defined as your official title may be. For that reason, it’s really important to be flexible and bring a wide range of skills to the table.”
She says she got involved in the LGBTQ+ and intersectional nonprofit space because she wants to be able to do for others what she wished someone had done for her when she was young and queer—created a safe space where she felt supported and accepted. “I firmly believe that if you want change to happen, you need to play a part in creating that change,” she says.
Depending on what kind of career really suits your skills and interests, there are plenty of ways to give back and support the LGBTQ+ community at work. If nothing else, you can work internally to make sure that your workplace is safe and supportive to queer individuals, and that everyone feels comfortable being themselves.