Have you heard? Richmond is out.
We were approached by Richmond Region Tourism to market the city as an LGBT travel destination. What started as a voluntary school assignment quickly grew into a passion project for our team as we transformed a simple tourism campaign into a living community movement.
Richmond has come a long way since the Civil War. It has been a progressive city with a strong LGBT community for years. However people outside of Virginia could not seem to shake this perception of Richmond as a bastion of intolerance.
Cut through the noise made by the “big city” nightlife of typical destinations and correct common misperceptions of Richmond to put this Southern capital on the map for LGBT travelers.
Not surprisingly, the LGBT population is as diverse as the rest of America. Their interests run the gamut and they look for the same things in a weekend getaway as everyone else: good food, beautiful locations, fun nightlife, access to a wide-range of activities.
Often times, when LGBT people travel out of their city, they are not necessarily looking for a “gay scene” (because they frequently bring it with them), but they do seek out places where they will feel comfortable to be themselves and show affection to their partner or companions without fear for their safety. That is why reputation, word-of-mouth, and highly visible local LGBT populations hold so much influence over where members of the community travel.
Richmond is a gay city. It may not be in an obvious way like New York or San Francisco, but there is an active LGBT community woven throughout the city, contributing everyday to its creative, cultural, and social Renaissance.
It was time for Richmond to come out.
We designed and distributed thousands of Out stickers to partner businesses and organizations across the city of Richmond. Out stickers provide a unique way for Richmonders to show support for their LGBT community at the street level and are intended to be added to the RVA sticker, an existing campaign that is well-known throughout the Richmond area.
Our website, www.richmondisout.com showcases the OutRVA video, provides information regarding sticker locations and, most importantly, showcases Richmond's LGBT community for the world to see by aggregating all social content using #outrva.
In addition, the website showcases coming out stories and words of encouragement sent to OutRVA from around the world.
This fall, to correspond with Richmond Gay Pride and National Coming Out Day, we will be taking our message nationwide. A personified Richmond will be taking out ads in LGBT publications and writing to celebrities and influencers in the LGBT community to let them know it's now come out of the closet.
The final stage of the campaign will take place later this year, when all of the content OutRVA has generated - tweets, photos, letters, and coming out stories - are showcased in an exhibit alongside Richmond's rich LGBT history, providing an opportunity for the Richmond community to get together and celebrate their gay and lesbian friends and neighbors.
The response to OutRVA has been overwhelmingly positive. Thousands of stickers have been distributed across the city and tens of thousands have visited the website. We've received emails, letters, and tweets from people that have been touched by this movement - from Richmond and from around the world.