I firmly believe creative guilds have the power to change the world and have been doing so since the dawn of time. Quilt guilds, knitting guilds, weaving guilds, and crafting guilds in general have always been a safe-haven for creators to be themselves, get creative, and find meaningful community. Crafting is a great way to decompress, meet new people, form lasting friendships, and find ways to give back to your community. Yet many guilds have no idea how to properly support marginalized members or would be members in their midst.
Fortunately, a lot of crafting and creative guilds these days say they’re looking to prioritize diversity, and especially LGBTQIA+ inclusion, and this is a great first step. But what can your guild do to actually build memberships and support life-long guild bonds beyond its pledge?
As a proud openly gay man who loves to quilt, crochet, weave, and create, I’ll admit; I have never met a guild that fully supports me. I’m not asking for the rainbow carpet treatment; I’m simply asking to express my identity and create with others. I’ve been invited to speak at guilds that, when I arrived, asked me to “tone down the gay,” and not only did that hurt on a personal level, it told me where this guild’s values truly were. If your guild can’t be openly supportive of people like me, you’re actively choosing to welcome the haters and the pearl clutchers at the expense of awesome queer people who just want to craft, make friends, be their authentic selves, and have a good time.
If your guild is serious about truly welcoming members of the LGBTQIA+ community as equals, here are some meaningful steps you can take to do so, because I promise you, there are some very lovely queer people in your community who are dying to be part of an accepting creative group. Wouldn’t you rather have them join, than those who seek to oppress and isolate us?
1. Update Your Bylaws- If your guild hasn’t already done so, update your bylaws to include language that promotes the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ diversity. While you’re at it, make sure it includes racial diversity. This is a great first step that tells the world your guild’s values.
2. Incorporate LGBTQIA+ Nonprofits and Charities in Guild Giving -Many guilds donate to organizations like battered women’s shelters and local food banks. Why not include an LGBTQIA+ nonprofit or two into your annual giving? LGBTQIA+ individuals make up a large percentage of those facing homelessness, hunger, and domestic violence. Find some local or regional organizations making a difference and reach out to them.
3. Remove Official Guild Ties with Charities and Businesses That Foster Hate - This might seem like an obvious choice, but you’d be surprised how many anti-LGBTQIA+ charities and businesses hide in plain sight. Even the best meaning guilds can send the wrong vibes without realizing it.
• Charities: Take a few minutes to study each charity your guild officially works with or gives to and make sure they are not actively against the LGBTQIA+ community.
• Meeting Locations: Does your guild meet in a church? Make sure they’re inclusive toward the LGBTQIA+ community, (AKA, they believe LGBTQIA+ people are fine as they are and not going to Hell).
• Vendors: Is your guild actively buying from and/or encouraging members to shop at stores and businesses that are anti-LGBTQIA? Do a little research before spending your guild’s money. Make sure you’re not supporting businesses that are actively supporting hatred against LGBTQIA+ people. For example Hobby Lobby is owned by David Green, who donates to an organization that is anti-LGBTQIA+.
4. Invite LGBTQIA+ Creators to Speak at Your Guild - There are plenty of successful, fun, LGBTQIA+ creators who would love to speak at your guild. Find some and invite them. It’ll show guild members that you mean what you say about inclusion and acceptance.
5. Include an LGBTQIA+ Reading List on Your Guild Website - Chances are, your guild probably has many LGBTQIA+ allies or would-be allies. Post an LGBTQIA+ friendly suggested reading list in a blog, or elsewhere on your website. This can help would-be allies understand the needs of the LGBTQIA+ community, so they can help your guild in being more inclusive.
6. Have a Craft Scholarship Program for New Crafters - A scholarship fund is a great way to create ready-to go “getting started kits” for new members. This is generally a good practice to begin with, but it can be especially helpful for encouraging new LGBTQIA+ members to join, as our community is disproportionately affected by economic inequality. Sometimes simply not having the tools is enough to exclude us from a guild. Don’t let buying a new sewing machine, or the tools to start a craft stop someone from joining.
Partner with your local sewing store, craft store, or sewing machine repair person and ask them to donate used and working sewing machines and supplies. Lend out or give these machines to new guild members. Let your guild know you are looking for supplies, fabric, thread, yarn, etc. and get them involved.
7. Create a Craft Mentorship Program - Crafting, sewing, and making is often something you learned from your mother, or grandmother. Yet, manyLGBTQIA+ individuals have been shunned by their families for simply being who they are. Mentorship can go a long way to helping them connect and learn a new craft.
Create a call-to-action for guild members who want to become mentors to new guild members. This will help not only LGBTQIA+ members, but also members from any marginalized community get into crafting and make meaningful connections.
8. Partner With Local LGBTQIA Organizations to Encourage New Membership - Find local LGBTQIA+ organizations and partner with them. Invite your members to attend their public events and get involved. Make those partnerships visible on your website and public messaging.
9. Celebrate Pride With Your Guild - Make sure your guild is Pride-Positive. This can be as simple as posting positively about Pride on your guild’s Instagram and Facebook, and choosing patterns to showcase from LGBTQIA+ creators.
10. Adopt and Encourage Diverse Group Language - A lot of guilds use the term “ladies” to address their members as a group, and you can see how this automatically isolates everyone who isn’t a lady. Many guilds often also assume that a person’s spouse is a husband, and that everyone has a spouse. Again, this is isolating to people that don’t have this or have a variation of this. Here are some quick ways to adjust how you and your guild address itself.
• Say “everyone” when addressing the crowd, instead of “ladies” • Say “spouse or partner” instead of husband • Say “creators” or “people” when talking about your members as a group, instead of “ladies.”
Remember, being an LGBTQIA+ inclusive guild isn’t political; it’s just the right thing to do. If your guild truly exists to connect people and help them express themselves and grow, then get to it; bring in all the diversity because having many voices makes your guild stronger. Being LGBTQIA+ positive tells members of your guild that you value them as people, you respect who they are, and you side with them when so much of the world seeks to destroy them.
About the Author
Mathew Boudreaux, AKA Mister Domestic, is a social crafting powerhouse on a mission; to build an inclusive community that spreads love and joy through crafting. Although Mathew began sewing at a young age, his parents’ antiquated gender binary expectations discouraged him from fully expressing himself. But in 2013, after their daughter was born, Mathew’s spouse gifted him classes from “Modern Domestic” and it rekindled Mathew’s love of sewing and crafting. Soon Mathew was combining his love of crafting with his Portland State MBA and using the power of social media to create an inclusive brand all his own. Today Mathew is a fabric & pattern designer, sewing instructor, owner of the new online sewing school SEW U, an inspirational speaker, consultant, and global influencer with his TikTok, YouTube & Instagram each set to surpass over 100,000 subscribers this year.
For more about Mathew, visit: https://misterdomestic.com