No matter what field you’re in, finding your community can make all the difference in your career. The design industry is unique in that it allows creative people to express themselves through their unique skillsets. However, feeling like you can be your authentic self and be fully accepted — well, that’s a bit more complicated.
For LGBTQ+ designers, navigating the industry presents a unique and nuanced array of challenges. Surveys show a pay discrepancy between designers identifying as gay and designers identifying as lesbian. Trans designers lost employment at a much higher rate than cisgender designers in the wake of COVID-19. We also saw a trend of LGBTQ+ designers increasingly moving towards freelance work, rather than full-time employee roles.
These issues are complex to break down, let alone navigate. Enter Queer Design Club.
Founded in 2019, this collective helps bring together designers within the LGBTQ+ space. Members can share their work and connect with others via the directory and/or a private Slack channel, where it’s easy to have discussions around everything from allyship in their respective workplaces being performative versus genuine, to queer art and design that sends a powerful message. It provides a very necessary safe space for designers to network, get career advice, connect over unique challenges, and build relationships.
Rebecca Brooker, co-founder, told me about her vision for the organization.
“We realized there was an opportunity to bring LGBTQ+ people in design together to create a platform for representation, where people could see each other's contributions and values to the industry, alongside their own. What started as a small space for talking and catching up, has transformed into a necessary space for queer persons in design.
Queer Design Club is going one step further in building community. They will host their first event on July 7th — Queer Design Club Summit.
The virtual summit is a single day packed full of important discussions: four panels as well as breakout sessions and workshops that allow attendees time to participate and talk with each other.
Panel speakers include design rockstars Leslie Xia, Steven Wakabayashi, Annika Hansteen-Izora, and Veronica Corzo-Duchardt, among others.
Unlike many design conferences, panel topics are not based on design software hacks or even rethinking approaches to visual elements. Brooker explained to me that the speakers and topics were chosen distinctly to provide attendees with real insight, guidance, and empowerment.
“We curated the programming based on the data and experiences we found in our 2021 Queer Design Count. Using our stage to discuss the insights, and the lived experiences alongside them, we chose a selection of panelists with completely unique lived experiences to shine a light on the challenges our community faces.”
This event is the first of its kind, which is one reason we’re so excited to attend and nerd out.
Extensis will be sponsoring a post-summit virtual happy hour featuring drag bingo where folks can mingle and have fun after a long day of glorious food for thought. Whether you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community or an ally, this summit is going to be a great one.