DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 25 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - G ay power couple Gigi Gorgeous, a transgender YouTube star, and her wife Nats Getty are clear about why they were in Davos in the Swiss Alps for the annual meeting of the global elite - to ensure LGBT+ rights were on the agenda.
The couple, who married in a lavish ceremony in California last July, have teamed up with Nat’s fashion designer brother August and their mother, Ariadne Getty, to push for LGBT+ equality from within the Getty oil dynasty.
Ariadne Getty, granddaughter of billionaire oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, has become a leading LGBT+ activist since her two children Natalia, 27 - who is known as Nats - and August, 24, both came out as gay in their teens.
For years LGBT+ discussions were not included at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meeting in Davos but that began to change with a panel in 2016 and at the 2020 meeting, that ended Jan. 24, there were two official panels and various side events.
In an interview at the Gettys’ chalet overlooking the upmarket ski resort, Gigi Gorgeous said it was “beyond important” to get more world leaders and companies to address LGBT+ rights and hoped their presence at Davos would do that.
“We schlep our arses to town every day and we sit on panels. We educate people with our story, and speak in front of cameras reaching millions of people,” Gigi Gorgeous - the professional name of Giselle Lazzarato - told the Thomson Reuters Foundation
“It’s really nice Davos in general is taking us in little by little and it is growing. Next year is going to be more ... and it’s fabulous for our community,” she added, wearing a huge furry magenta hat and sipping an expresso martini.
Sitting side-by-side on a sofa in the chalet’s living room, Gigi and the Getty siblings talked about the need to up the pressure on those making decisions on LGBT inclusion and laws.
Globally same-sex relations remain illegal in about 70 countries.
“For us it part of our life, part of our DNA and it will be a constant vehicle and movement for us,” said August, who has his own haute couture fashion label August Getty Atelier.
“Any way that you can increase visibility of the LGBTQ community expands the rainbow flag here at Davos.”
The Gettys’ activism began with Ariadne, who sits on the board of advocacy group GLAAD to which the Ariadne Getty Foundation pledged $15 million in 2018 to push for stories of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to feature more on TV and in films.
“It is super important to have a movie that incorporates an LGBT character that isn’t the storyline, that isn’t the plot, that isn’t the trend ... just part of life like having a white person or an Asian person in a movie,” said August.
His sister, with whom he shares a design studio in Los Angeles, said increasing the visibility of LGBT+ people in advertising was even more important.
“Ads to me are more important because that is just real life replicated and shown back to people,” said Nats, citing a Gillette advert by Procter & Gamble last year that featured a father helping his transgender son shave for the first time.
“When you see someone who’s transgender, who’s gay (or) in a gay or lesbian relationship ... it normalises it to people that don’t see it as normal,” added Nats, who runs lifestyle brand Strike Oil, a nod to the origin of her family’s fortune.
Gorgeous, a Canadian with nearly three million YouTube followers who documented her transition from male to female on the platform in 2014, said trans people needed a higher profile in the media.
“There (aren’t) enough transgender people behind or in front of the camera,” said Gorgeous, who met Nats at Paris Fashion Week in 2016 where she was working as a model for August.
Both Nats and Gorgeous said they were shocked at the reaction from people when they became a couple, which highlighted the need for their activism.
“A lot of people couldn’t wrap their heads around a transgender male-to-female woman being gay,” Gorgeous said, adding few people saw the difference between sexuality and gender identity.
"Our work is never over," she said. "This is our life, our passion ... it is little victories every day that change people's minds." (Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith @BeeGoldsmith; Editing by Hugo Greenhalgh Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)