David Seelos, VP of Partnerships at Concurrent Studios
Alene, Magal's Social Media Manager: Tell me about yourself!
David: I’m 30 years old, living in LA. Originally from Southern California about an hour north of LA. I currently work in digital media with content creators; mostly education creators (scientists, artists, engineers). I’m very outdoorsy, I like to play outside.
Alene: What was your experience like coming out as gay?
David: I didn’t have a very hard or sad experience coming out. I have very progressive parents; my mom’s best friend was gay, my dad is a business-hippy. Growing up I sort of thought everyone was bisexual. I thought that I might be into dudes, but had a general thought that everyone’s into both. I dated girls for a long time, and didn’t come out until around 22. Everyone was chill with it. Sadly, that’s not the case for most people, but clear progress has been made in the media and what not. People are learning and being more understanding and accepting. They are realizing that it’s not a lifestyle you choose, you’re born one way or another way. People are also coming out at younger ages. I admit that I might be tone deaf because I live in a liberal mecca. But, looking at society as a whole, things are much better even from 10-15 years back.
Alene: So, can you recount times when you didn’t necessarily feel comfortable or accepted?
David: Generally as a kid in high school people throw around “oh that’s gay” as an insult. It doesn’t really matter where you are, if it’s a liberal beach town or not, you’re always different. If there’s a negative connotation with what you are, it makes you feel bad. I’m pretty certain people accepted me, but growing up I didn’t want to bring it up. When I travel sometimes. I’ve been in conservative places in the Middle East where it’s not accepted at all (death penalty), so I’ve had to go into the mindset that I’m gonna live straight while I’m there. Weirdly enough, though, I felt more comfortable in those places than how I felt in small conservative towns in America. That’s way more uncomfortable than being in the Middle East.
Alene: What does inclusivity mean to you?
David: There’s way more to it than being non-judgemental or accepting. That’s not enough. Inclusivity is about being proactive about being inclusive of every type of ‘good’ person. An all-encompassing feeling of including people in society that deserve it. There are two important ways to approach people as a business and show that you’re proactive: 1. Put your money where your mouth is. Either by donation matching or launching a product in which proceeds go to a charity, 2. Doing it all year, not just in June.
2 Organizations to Support: 1. HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN, 2. Trevor Project (supports suicide prevention for gay teens)
The suicide rate is significantly higher than for non-LGBTQ
Alene: So how does a company like ours, which is generally catered to women, do more to be more inclusive?
David: I would try to target the gay-female market. Jewelry is versatile enough that everyone can wear it. You have to find a balance because it’s a jewelry brand, and if you post too much it can backfire. For instance, a Yoga brand I know did a super aggressive pride campaign. A lot of the comments were barf emojis and there was lots of unfollowing. I would love to say “fuck those people” but at the same time, you’re a business. I’d love to be able to say they can’t buy our products and are horrible people but businesses need revenue.
What brands are missing the mark on is doing it all year round, not just in June. A year round thing doesn’t necessarily have to be a pride campaign. It could be any other campaign you’re doing in January, and include a gay couple. A good first move for you would be a teaser video for the product. If you have a bunch of couples on the beach promoting a product, have one of the couples in the video be lesbian. You can dip your toes in it enough to see how people respond, you don’t need to do a full on gay campaign. You could also do something with drag queens. Drag queens have a strong presence in the mainstream media and are trending. My straight friends love watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race. There is a huge difference between being gay and being a drag queen, but gay people kissing almost needs to be explained. Drag queens are entertaining and still part of LGBTQ culture.
Alene: Did you ever feel out of place in your work life?
David: Not so much internal struggle. Our clients are scientists and artists so naturally they’re liberal and they’ve been nothing but accepting. In other words, in your business there is a bit of a grey area and you have to make a judgement call. A lot of customers are probably middle-class parents in more conservative states.
Alene: How can we enlighten the older generations about LGBTQIA+ activism?
David: The only natural way for that to happen is if someone has a gay family member and really loves that person. I don’t think people can be enlightened. They can fake it and pretend they’re okay with it. Being accepting of something is different than embracing it. With older people there’s a bit of a road block because they aren’t open to talking about it, and putting stuff in the media won’t really help.
Alene: What’s one thing to tell the world about the community?
David: I would tell everyone that we’re all DIFFERENT !
Some of us are feminine, some masculine. We all have different preferences, and we won’t all like each other just because we’re gay. I’ve had friends show me a gay guy on Instagram just because I’m gay, and sometimes I’m like “I’m offended you think that is my type". I’m in a monogamous relationship, but people assume gay men are all promiscuous and in open-relationships.
Alene: Which international issues affecting the global LGBTQIA+ community are particularly on your mind?
David: The whole situation in the Middle East (minus Israel), Russia, parts of Asia and Africa is BAD.
There is a death penalty, people who are openly gay risk being beheaded. There are also a lot of issues with acceptance in middle America in rural areas; there are a lot of violent hate crimes against the LGBTQIA+ community in the US. The most scary issue in my opinion, would be governments who want to kill people for being who they are. Flying into Egypt I felt like I needed to be a different person. As a gay man, Egypt would be a HORRIBLE place to live. It’s cool but when it comes to civil liberties/equality, it’s not a place to be. I did a lot of research before going there in my mid 20’s. Men in Egypt are usually married by then, so my boyfriend (at the time) and I, wore wedding rings, said our wives were at home, and told everyone we were traveling for business. When I was there we went to an underground night club, which is illegal, and for the most part everyone we met in Egypt was nice and awesome. We didn’t feel unsafe because we played it safe.
Alene: So do you think there is anything negative about social media support for LGBTQIA+ or is it all mostly positive?
David: When it comes to LGBTQ, there are way more influencers that support rather than those who don’t. I don’t think social media is negative, but the main issue is consistency. Don’t just show up in June, show up all year. It makes people look bad and it's not effective for a cause when there’s no consistency.