Intersectionality and Public Relations: My Practice and Perceptions as a Queer PR Professional

As a young queer PR professional pursuing a career in America, I feel privileged to say that I’m lucky to have an overall inclusive and supportive academic, social and work environment that allows me to accept and present myself in the ways that I’m comfortable with. It was not until my last semester of college that I decided to pursue a career in public relations, and with the limited practice that I have in this industry, I find it fascinating that there are correlations and parallels between the PR industry and LGBTQ+ activism, namely in  connection, inclusivity and evolution.

Every individual has their personal and professional journey that is unique and has its own obstacles and challenges. Like many international students, I have experienced microaggressions and lost career opportunities because of my international identity here in the States. Every layer of my identity has given me challenges, but each one has also provided me opportunities to learn different perspectives and connect with certain groups of people. This has helped a lot with my career practice- because in its nature, PR is human/brand-centered and information-based.

After discovering my queer identity, I began seeking out media representation Coming from a conservative town in southwest China, my knowledge about the LGBTQ+ community was extremely limited for the first 18 years of my life. A movie introduced me to homosexuality, and then I started to seek out more media to educate myself  while exploring my own identities. Representation has been an important factor to assist in figuring out my personal and professional paths. It is something that I have become a champion and advocate for – queering public space.

To celebrate pride month, I took a solo one-day trip to Provincetown in Massachusetts, which is known as a popular vacation destination for the LGBTQ+ community. Seeing all the flags flying and people smiling on Commercial Street, I never felt so welcomed or proud. It was even a little surreal. In a heteronormative society, Provincetown is like a queer getaway town for all. This is how I came to understand queering public space – building a space where all feel welcomed, accepted, and included.

While digital communication has been indispensable in this century, especially for younger generations, I believe that media representation is essential in proceeding the course of queer activism. Compared to real life, the digital world is oftentimes safer for minority groups to find community and build connections with people. As the core of PR,media also plays a key role in shaping and skewing opinions.

At the intersection of PR and activism, I plan to use my skills and contribute my time and energy to support and advocate for the marginalized groups and communities, to promote diversity, equity and inclusion, and to bring representation to spaces, creating options in a sustainable practice.

If you are looking for a way to support marginalized communities and become an ally, self-education is an important first step. Understanding perspectives and experiences different from your own is crucial. Follow this by engaging with community members in conversations, showing support in daily interactions, both in person and online, and participating in activism events. This effort is not only about ensuring the rights of specific groups to exist safely in this world but also about fostering an inclusive and supportive environment where everyone can embrace and love their true selves. That is how we queer public spaces and make minorities, especially those of us who identify in multiple minority groups, feel safe, welcomed and celebrated in the world of public relations.

Yudie Feng graduated from Emerson College with a Communication Studies degree in December 2023. She is currently interning with MassDevelopment’s PR department and serves as an assistant market manager at Mass Farmers Markets, actively pursuing her passion in building and strengthening communities. Connect with Yudie on LinkedIn!

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