Talisha and Monica, Marriott Stanton South Beach, Miami
A happy, sleepy family. A canoodling couple. A sexy, leggy model. A beaming sports star.
Typical ad campaign for a hotel company? Yes — except for the LGBT twist Marriott International is celebrating in its new #LoveTravels initiative, just launched in Washington, D.C.
For the acronym averse, LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender. And for those not in the know, June is traditionally known as Pride Month, in which a majority of the world’s gay population whoops it up in parades and festivals to commemorate the anniversary of NYC’s Stonewall Riots, which kicked off the modern gay rights movement on June 27, 1969.
Geena Rocero, The Lexington NYC, Autograph Collection
Photographer Braden Summers pinged the radar of Marriott thanks to the success of a previous travel-focused series, All Love Is Equal, in which intimate gay and lesbian moments were captured across the globe from the UK and France to India, Lebanon, and Brazil. Whereas that series used models, his sumptuous new portraits showcase real couples, a multi-culti mix of folks buzzing about the brand’s hotels, in moments both lively and romantic.
Contemporary gay heroes are featured, like Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins (cited as the first openly gay player on a major American sports team) and Geena Rocero (a transgender fashion model and activist), as well as everyday people such as Talisha Padgett-Matthews, a recently married Marriott associate (go ahead, buy her something nice).
Jason Collins, The Carlton Hotel, NYC
Portraits are displayed on giant building wraps at five hotels throughout our nation’s capital — just in time for Capital Pride this past weekend — display ads in cities around the country, and in an online portrait gallery. A social media component encourages everyone who loves love to tweet or Instagram with the #LoveTravels hashtag.
Tosh and Carmine, The Carlton Hotel, NYC
“Summers’ unique ability to capture romantic and touching images of LGBT individuals, couples and families perfectly conveys the company’s commitment to make everyone feel comfortable being who they are everywhere they travel,” says Verona Carter, Marriott’s global director of PR, “from the low-end Residence Inn, to the middle-market flagship brands, to the high-end Ritz-Carlton.”
In other words: Sure it’s a marketing ploy to tap into the estimated $181 billion LGBT travel market, but it’s also a powerful message of inclusion. For every same-sex marriage win (thanks, Wisconsin!) there seems to be a human rights loss (especially for women; we’re looking at you, Brunei).
So this June — and well into the months after — we’re happy to give kudos to a multi-national hotel brand stepping up to say: welcome, each and every one.
The Marriott #LoveTravels campaign continues through November. Click through for behind-the-scenes videos and photos as well as more info on Marriott’s LGBT deals and initiatives.
Amy and Laura, Renaissance New York Hotel 57
Chad, Scott, Lucas and Olivia, Residence Inn New York Manhattan/Central Park
Prior to joining Yahoo Travel as a contributing editor, Justin Ocean spent years gallivanting the world for Out magazine and OutTraveler.com. He’s still a gay.