'Richmond is Out' campaign targets LGBT travelers

Published: Sep. 3, 2014 at 1:09 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 13, 2014 at 1:53 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - "Richmond is out!" That's the message of a new tourism campaign aimed at LGBT travelers. The goal is to let them know the city is open, accepting and a great place to visit.

If you're in the city, you'll start to see stickers with the word "Out" on local businesses. On the back they say "support your local LGBT community by displaying this sticker."  Outside of the River City, letters are appearing as advertisements , which ask travelers to come in to the city because "Richmond is Out."

A letter to Atlanta reads: "You know what it's like being a southern city. People assume things about you. But I want you to know the real me." 

A letter to Boston states: "I can't change. Just like you can't change the way you say 'park'."

And one addressed to Washington, D.C. says: "We've always been close. Like 109 miles on I-95 close. There's something I need to tell you... so here it is, I'm gay."

All three letters are signed "Love, Richmond, Virginia." They are a meaningful way to reach the LGBT community, according to Katherine O'Donnell with Richmond Region Tourism. She explains a letter is a personal way some people come out.

"It's pretty unique depending on where you are in the country," she said. "In Virginia we're the only destination that we know of that does this type of outreach."

The campaign is a partnership with VCU's Brand Center.

"It's promoting the same things we promote to all travelers—the history, the arts, the food, the craft beer and all the rest—but that we're welcoming and friendly to LGBT travelers," O'Donnell added.

Sarah Paxton, owner of LaDIFF hopes displaying the stickers will boost business.

"It's appealing to a group of people who to be completely honest they generally have slightly more disposable income because they don't always have children, or they're less likely to have children," Paxton explained. "And when they feel comfortable shopping in an environment that they know is accepting they come in and they shop and they spend money."

The campaign is set to run through October 31 to correspond with the pride festival at the end of this month.

It also includes a letter to Ellen DeGeneres inviting her to Richmond.

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