But the point here is – you not only deserve to stop for a bit now and then, you need to. We need you around and while you may not hear it or see it or feel it – you are an incredibly valuable resource to humanity right now.
Brucecy Marketing Group is a high-spirited and creative event management and planning firm based in northern New Jersey specializing in promoting brands at existing consumer events such as a legacy of innovation at engaging pride event attendees. Founded by Tom Legan, an out LGBT entrepreneur, with a remarkable history in television marketing leadership and a keen focus on end to end project execution. Under Legan’s leadership, Brucecy has been instrumental in bringing non-profit Pride organizations top-notch sponsors year after year. Legan understands how to make a brand stand out at Pride and how important the financial support of sponsors is in enabling Pride to happen. Not only does that support affect the Pride non-profit’s ability to put on a great event, but it also has a direct and indirect impact on the local community. We’ll discuss a little background and how Legan got involved in supporting the Pride ecosystem. We’ll also chat about some of the challenges that the COVID-19 virus forced upon the Pride festivals and opportunities it also created.
OutBüro-Q – How long has your marketing agency been involved with Pride festivals?
I started doing pride festivals through my first national marketing agency called Legan Promotions Inc. in 2003. Prior to that, I worked for Showtime Networks for six years and headed up National Promotions and Events where I had the amazing opportunity to promote all Showtime Original Series including the premiere of the groundbreaking hit series Queer As Folk in 2000. I started the LGBTQ outreach area at the network and sponsored over 100 pride events during my time there. Along with Queer As Folk, later I also promoted The L Word at pride festivals. When I left Showtime in 2003 to form Legan Promotions, Showtime became my first client! Other clients included ABC (Dancing With The Stars), TLC, Lifetime, IFC, Ovation, Macy’s, and Wolfgang Puck.
In 2011, I closed Legan Promotions as an incredible opportunity came my way from AMC Networks to be the Director of Activation, Promotions, and Licensing for their original series, many of which were favorites of mine. From 2011 to 2014, I got to promote major hit series like The Walking Dead, Mad Men and Breaking Bad, to general audiences – a very exciting period!
By 2014, several past TV network clients from Legan Promotions had been reaching out to see if I could help them promote at gay pride festivals again, so it was at that time I made the tough decision to leave AMC and form Brucecy Marketing Group, my current agency which is basically “Legan Promotions 2.0”. The name of the agency comes from the first names of my mom and dad – Bruce and Cecy – who always valued diversity and supported me in every way. Since then, our agency has worked with global brands like SKYY Vodka and 2(X)IST underwear and networks such as Freeform, Game Show Network, Amazon Prime Video, and more.
OutBüro-Q – What has been the traditional role of your agency with Pride festivals?
Our agency connects brands, TV networks, and movie studios directly to the LGBTQ community through a presence at Pride festivals, parades, gay film festivals, and related events to promote brand awareness, new series premieres for networks, and new movie releases for studios. We handle everything from start to finish for our clients making it all turnkey for them. This includes recommending the best Prides based on what they are promoting (the premiere of a new series or the launch of a new brand product, for example) followed by planning each activation and negotiating directly with each pride organization on the sponsorship details.
Then we manage the activation onsite for each client with our trained brand ambassadors and provide a complete summary recap after each event to the client. Through our long-standing relationships with the Pride organizations, our clients typically get exclusive added value benefits they can’t get by going direct, so many return to our agency year after year. Plus we’ve received many compliments from clients on how our agency has some of the best-personalized customer service they’ve encountered, better than with agencies ten times our size, so we’re proud of that!
HGTV was a client of ours for four consecutive years and we managed over 80 Prides for them. One of the main things they loved about our agency was how turnkey everything was for them and how easy it was to reach us anytime.
OutBüro-Q – How has that changed this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
This year is unprecedented in terms of how we celebrate pride and how our agency does business. As there are no plans for physical pride events until at least September, Pride organizations, especially those who normally host prides March through June, have had to get very creative to still find ways to celebrate pride. Pride festivals are a big source of revenue for many pride organizations, most of which are non-profit entities, so it was critical Prides find a way to still celebrate but also raise critical funds for their local LGBTQ communities.
In addition to Global Virtual Pride on June 27 which I’ll talk more about, several larger Prides like NYC Pride, San Francisco Pride, Denver Pride, Washington DC Capital Pride, and several others will be having their own virtual Pride festivals where everyone can still celebrate pride from the comfort of their home and brands can still sponsor these virtual events and support the community.
OutBüro-Q – What new challenges has the concept of a Virtual Global Pride brought and how have you and the team addressed and potentially capitalized upon those?
Virtual Prides, in general, have been a tough sell for our clients who are used to traditional event marketing at large Pride festivals where attendees can experience the brand activation firsthand and interact directly with brands. We’ve been bringing our clients up to speed on how virtual Prides will work and how they still can connect to the LGBTQ community in a personal and quality way.
As much as we’d love to promote movies like JUDY starring Renee Zellweger as we did at Prides last year for our client Roadside Attractions studios, where Judy Garland drag queens posed with pride attendees as they walked along a VIP red carpet area, that’s just not feasible in these times. But we can still get creative with how to connect to the community while still being far apart.
OutBüro-Q – What new opportunities, maybe unexpected, has this created?
The number of people virtual Prides has the potential to attract is far greater than physical attendance at regular pride events as anyone can watch the pride celebration online. This is exciting for our clients as they consider sponsorships. Also, with all 50 states reopening in at least some way as of this week, brands can sponsor virtual Prides to support the community but also use the opportunity to promote they are back in business. This is especially applicable to the hard-hit travel and tourism industry like cruise lines, hotels, airlines, restaurants, movie theaters, theme parks, and similar companies. It seems to make a lot of sense in the next few weeks for these types of brands to tell millions of loyal consumers eager to get out of their homes that they are back (and at a very low cost to do so too!)
OutBüro-Q – Has past Pride corporate and community sponsors embraced this necessary new approach? Is sponsorship steady, increased, lower?
We’re still speaking with all clients and potential clients about virtual Pride sponsorships and participation. Normally by March every year (usually earlier), we would have locked in clients for regular physical pride campaigns for the entire year especially those occurring in June as many of those Prides sell out of space and sponsorship options early. This year, everything has shifted later as Prides had to scramble to come up with another option to celebrate (virtual Prides) when the crisis hit the US in March. So we are all working fast and furiously to introduce clients to this new concept but timing is very tight. Therefore we do expect fewer clients to sponsor virtual Prides, at least those Prides occurring in June.
OutBüro-Q – Naturally, attending a Pride Festival in person has its emersion experience and loads of people watching. How will the Virtual Pride engage attendees to participate and feel a part of it
We have a lot of fun and creative ideas we’ve been discussing with clients and with the various virtual Prides. There are many ways to engage consumers from their homes as they watch Pride celebrations online so they still feel a part of this community experience. The biggest obstacle we have to deal with is time since all virtual Prides really just came together in the past few weeks. Putting together a sponsorship or campaign for clients in a matter of weeks versus months is challenging.
OutBüro-Q – Are there new technologies and/or new media partnerships being leveraged? If so, what and how will they create the vision of Global Virtual Pride?
Global Virtual Pride’s goal is to allow as many people as possible to watch the 24-hour stream all around the world, so there will be several platforms on which people will be able to view the festivities. Some countries block access to platforms we use here in the US everyday like YouTube and Facebook, so we’re working on ways to be sure everyone who wants access to Global Pride can get access.
OutBüro-Q – Will attendees need to download apps to participate – if so, what are they? Let’s get ready.
Yes, these are some of the ideas and concepts we have been discussing such as:
- Participation through an app or through social media
- Getting a physical object of some sort in people’s hands before they watch the stream on June 27
- Asking them to submit photos or videos of what pride means to them and incorporating those into the broadcast and so many more ideas.
It will just be a matter of seeing what can be done in the short amount of time before the broadcast as we’re just five weeks away now.
OutBüro-Q – Since the date is set, can people already register to join the virtual party, and if so where and how?
Details will be forthcoming! It’s a new and exciting time for all of us, so stay tuned!
As soon as additional details are available to OutBüro we’ll update it here and likely also post a fresh new announcement article.
Disruptive Technologists mission is to inspire, guide, advise, teach, change, and create disrupters. Their in-person New York City meetings draw a weekly impressive crowd of 300 with standing room only. It is graciously hosted by Microsoft in their NYC building auditorium. Their communication distribution reaches over 20,000 developers, founders, investors, hackers, startup teams, professors, students, journalists, other media, vendors, corporations, and entrepreneurs.
Each week the panel of regulars and guests discuss pressing issues of the day and how technology can be positively leveraged as well as issues such as security and privacy. The May 20th discussion revolved around the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, Dennis Velco of OutBüro was invited to be a panelist bringing an LGBTQ perspective to the discussion.
The full panelist line up:
- Esther Dyson, Executive Founder at Wellville & Angel Investor
- Voltaire Xodus – Founder of WeUp and Impact Philanthropy
- Dennis Velco – Founder of OutBüro – The LGBTQ Professional and Entrepreneur Community Platform
- Moy Ogilvie. Partner at McCater & English
Q1: New York Cities’ poorest are dying at more than twice the rate of more affluent neighborhoods. Is this just to be expected in Modern America?
– Poorer areas lack adequate medical care.- Diabetes and Hypertension are more prevalent in low-income communities.- 94,327 US Deaths. – What could we do better?
Q2: The Apple/Google contact tracing app update was released today. Is it too little, too late?
– Combined Market Cap over $2 Trillion Dollars.- First Chinese cases December, US cases in February. – Only for Bluetooth enabled smartphones.- What are the better solutions?
Q3: Amazon has called itself ‘The New Red Cross’. Without useful Government assistance, is this the new reality?
– A workforce of 270,000 in the US and 800,000 globally. – Vast majority working in warehouses at $15 per hour. – During this talk Jeff Bezos made an additional $9 Million dollars.
There are more important things than living and that’s saving this country.Dan Patrick – Lt. Governor of Texas – March 31, 2020
Who is your: Hero of the week and villain of the week
What technology or Diversity & Inclusion approaches do you like right now?
To learn more about Disruptive Technologies find them on their many soical media chennels listed below:
- Digital Publication: www.DisruptiveTechnologists.com
- Event Site: https://www.meetup.com/Disruptive-Technologists-in-NYC/
- LinkedIn Site: linkedin.com/in/laurenkeyson
- YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/disruptivetechs
- Facebook Site 1: https://www.facebook.com/LKeyson1
- Facebook Site 2: https://www.facebook.com/LKeyson
- Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/disruptivetechs
- LinkedIn Page: https://www.linkedin.com/company/disruptive-technologists
- Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/DisruptiveTechnologists
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/disruptive_techs/?hl=en
HIV-AIDS taught us that silence = death, and information = power.
Picture this: It’s 1985. You’re a young gay man, living in Washington, DC.
AIDS has been all over the news since the actor Rock Hudson went public with his own diagnosis in July—and died in October. A new test to determine whether you have been exposed to HIV has just become available, although even the AIDS organizations are advising against taking it because no one yet knows what a positive result means.
Every morning you look up above the escalators going down into the Metro station at Dupont Circle and check the latest tally of AIDS deaths flashing across the ticker board—like a silent bell tolling across the gayest neighborhood in the city, reminding you that a deadly virus is on the loose, killing people, mostly other gay men, right there in your own neighborhood.
On the streets you see guys you knew from the gym, muscle boys now looking like shriveled old men, their faces polka-dotted with the purple lesions of Kaposi’s sarcoma.
You see more and more of their obituaries each week in the Washington Blade, the city’s LGBTQ newspaper and the most reliable source of information about the growing HIV pandemic.
The virus haunts your intimate moments, each coupling now an unwelcome and terrifying ménage á trois with one of the three not even visible and yet dominating the exchange, standing between the ecstasy of sex and the precipice of potential death.
Posters, flyers, and newspaper ads yell at you to protect yourself and your partners against the deadly microbe. Most heed the warnings; many do not.
And the Blade publishes yet more obituaries.
It’s a frightening experience to live through a deadly viral pandemic, especially one as lethal as HIV. But an important lesson from the HIV pandemic is that it is not only possible, but imperative, to get on with your life even as you practice the safety precautions that credible public health experts recommend.
In the case of the novel coronavirus now spreading across the world and throughout America, it’s particularly important to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations—including regular hand-washing, disinfecting frequently used surfaces, and ‘social distancing’ from people who are sick or crowds in which the virus can more easily be transmitted.
Something we learned in the HIV-AIDS pandemic that is highly relevant to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus: Words matter. Facts matter. It matters how we talk about something like a virus, the illness it causes, and those affected by it.
We learned that silence (and ignorance) equals death—and information equals power. Armed with fact-based information, we are best prepared to address the challenges that will lie ahead for many of us.
As the World Health Organization makes clear in its recommendations, it’s not useful to talk about a “plague,” and COVID-19 is not a “Chinese” or “Asian” disease. People diagnosed with the virus are not “vectors” or “carriers”—they are people first and foremost. “Stigma can undermine social cohesion and prompt possible social isolation of groups, which might contribute to a situation where the virus is more, not less, likely to spread,” the WHO says.
The first people diagnosed with HIV-AIDS—openly, proudly gay men—understood that words and language can make all the difference between hope and despair, between fear-driven hatred and compassion. “We are people with AIDS,” they insisted, not ‘AIDS victims.’” HIV-AIDS was an illness they had; it was not who they are. Their humanity defined them, not their diagnosis.
We are susceptible to the novel coronavirus, and the multitudes of other microbes around us and within our bodies at any given moment, simply because we are fragile, physical humans living in a sometimes dangerous world—not because of our ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, skin tone, or any other immutable trait.
These five steps will help us get through our latest public health crisis:
- Stay informed about the novel coronavirus—it’s the best defense against anxiety and to avoid ‘groupthink‘ and hysteria;
- Practice the recommended safety precautions;
- Seek testing and treatment if you’re ill;
- Respect your own and others’ humanity if you or they become ill; and
- Use words and language that don’t stigmatize anyone.
There is no need to panic or catastrophize (“the end of the world is here!”), and there is no room for hysteria borne of ignorance. Remember: Information equals power. Take it from a formerly young gay man who, beginning in 1985, lived through the “dark years” of AIDS in our hard-hit nation’s capital.
This article was originally posted on Physcology Today on March 12, 2020 and issued here OutBüro on by the author.
Being resilient means controlling how much we let our traumas define us.
We’re hearing a lot about what in the COVID-19 pandemic is becoming “the new normal,” including face masks, hand-washing, sheltering-in-place, and social distancing.
I can only offer empathy where it comes to financial hardship. I truly feel your pain as I know this hardship all too well. But I also know a few things about resilience that have helped me through some really tough times when I have experienced all of these emotional and mental health challenges.
For one thing, it’s unrealistic to expect yourself not to be changed by the trauma of losing a job, struggling to pay bills, worrying about a high-risk loved one’s health, or the new and widespread fear of simply going into a grocery store with unmasked shoppers. These experiences can rattle us to the core, make us question ourselves and our value, maybe even wonder whether life is worth all the effort it requires.
We’re also hearing a lot of talk about “getting back to normal.” But resilient people understand that there is no such thing as going back to “how things used to be.” We understand that there are only two options: Either stay stuck in the anxiety, depression, and fear by repeatedly rehashing the details of your trauma and the suffering it caused you. Or you move on.
By moving on, I am not suggesting you must forget what you’ve suffered, as if it’s even possible. No. I mean you deliberately choose—yes, it is a choice—not to allow the emotions and thoughts linked to the trauma control or define your present. You can’t undo what was done, but you get to decide how big a part it plays in defining you now.
The important starting point is in how you frame the story you tell yourself about what the traumatic experience—in this case, the COVID-19 pandemic—”means” in the bigger story of your life, your relationships, your place in the world.
Instead of thinking of yourself as a victim—singled out by fate for cruel and unusual punishment—it’s important to recognize the difference between events and forces beyond your control, and how you handle and respond to them. You can tell the story either as a victim—or as a survivor. The first reflects a sense of powerlessness, the second resilience.
I am here to say from experience that even resilient people continue to face challenging times—like COVID-19. But I can also say from experience that it’s possible to give the pandemic the attention and priority it requires without letting it become the dominant, defining event and force in your life.
First, you do that by staying informed and practicing recommended safety precautions, as well as actively taking steps to care for yourself—including getting exercise, eating properly and staying connected with others.
I learned how important these things are after my HIV diagnosis in 2005. After telling so many others’ stories as a reporter for so many years by that point, I had to learn how to tell my own story.
I had to decide what having HIV was going to mean to me. I had to choose how big or small a role I would allow my positive HIV status, and the things I had to do to care for my health, to play in my life and my sense of myself. I had to learn to understand that even with something as personal as a serious medical diagnosis, there had been events and forces beyond my control that brought me to that moment. That’s how I moved from wondering “why me?” to “why not me?” as I came to understand the traumas in my own past that had wounded me psychologically and put me at such high risk.
What things look like “on the other side” of COVID-19 for us as individuals, after we have a cure and/or preventive vaccine will depend largely on what they look like now, as we move through it. Either we take steps while it is happening to protect our mental and physical health and well-being, or we risk long-term harm.
Expecting to “go back” isn’t a smart personal reopening strategy. Try moving forward instead, but knowing you and everyone around you have been changed by the public health crisis. Live in the “new normal” even if it continues to mean masks and social distancing. It’s not a personal punishment. Focus on how you have pulled through this tough time and earlier tough times, on your resilience, rather than on all that has changed.
Just because COVID-19 has victimized all of us in one way or another doesn’t mean we have to live our lives as its victims.
This article was originally posted on Physcology Today on May 7, 2020 and issued here OutBüro on by the author.