In September 2018, VideoOut was selected as one of four organizations to receive a $50,000 grant from Marriott International as a part of #LoveTravels. When this first happened, many people asked our Executive Director, Jordan Reeves, “What business does a start-up, LGBTQ+ nonprofit like VideoOut have working with a multi-national, corporate conglomerate like Marriott? Aren’t they just checking a box?”

Here’s what we’ve learned in the past 8 months. Let’s start at the beginning.

In 2014, Marriott launched an initiative called #LoveTravels. Initially, #LoveTravels was focused solely on the LGBT community. It broadened to transcend any singular community. Today, #LoveTravels is a celebration of inclusion, equality, peace, and human rights. This is important to VideoOut as we believe all activism is related. To echo the words of many of our activism heroes, “None of us are free until all of us are free.”

#LoveTravels is a direct reflection of Marriott’s longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion and highlights their belief that travel is a catalyst for peace and inclusiveness. It launched with a powerful message of acceptance through storytelling - stories told by diverse travelers.

In its #LoveTravels launch announcement, GLAAD points out that, “Marriott International has consistently earned 100 percent perfect score on the HRC Corporate Equality Index as one of the Best Employers for LGBT People, and for several years, it also has been a supporting member of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, committed to diverse suppliers including LGBT businesses.”

Since Marriott announced the #LoveTravels Social Innovation Impact Grant last year, VideoOut has been able to travel to Alabama, Texas, Florida, and Utah. The grant has helped us add over 75 stories to the VideoOut library.

VideoOut’s involvement all started with a phone call. Out of the blue, Marriott reached out to us to ask if we were interested in partnering for a year. Before we knew it, we were at a celebratory launch event in New York City. Adam Rippon, Betty Who, Lena Waithe, Luis Fonsi, and TJ Holmes congratulated VideoOut. Then, Marriott took VideoOut to True Colors United’s 2018 summit in Atlanta. VideoOut led a workshop for a group of summit attendees. We talked about the value of visibility and the importance of coming out. From there, we traveled to Detroit to be a part of an event celebrating Weird Enough Productions, and still to come are events celebrating Period.org and ConPRmetidos (the other grantees)

VideoOut is just getting started!

On May 30 and 31, 2019, VideoOut has two full days of Story Sharing Day in NYC (sign up).

In June, SpeakOut at The Center is on the 8th, Story Sharing Day with Four Freedoms Park is on the 15th, and SpeakOut at Brooklyn Brewery is on the 27th.

Marriott afforded VideoOut an opportunity to work with the incredible public relations team at Otto & Friends, and has since been featured in Out, NBC, HuffPost, Into, Towelroad, and more.

“The exposure, travel, resources, and connections are immensely valuable to a new nonprofit. VideoOut has gained incalculable momentum as a result of Marriott’s grant and the accelerator activities over the past 8 months. But, the most important part of the Marriott partnership to me personally is the people,” says Jordan Reeves, VideoOut’s founder.

VideoOut is now a part of the Marriott family – and that feels undeniably authentic. It’s a complimentary fit. Both Marriott and VideoOut are places where everyone should feel welcome, comfortable, valued, and most of all, loved.

Recently, Marriott hosted VideoOut at its Bethesda headquarters for a two day retreat to discuss partnership and public relations strategies. VideoOut was able to meet the larger Marriott team, including executives from across the company’s business verticals.

L to R: Jordan Reeves (VideoOut), Tony Weaver Jr. (Weird Enough Productions), Nadya Okomoto (Period), and Isabel Rullan (ConPRmetidos).

L to R: Jordan Reeves (VideoOut), Tony Weaver Jr. (Weird Enough Productions), Nadya Okomoto (Period), and Isabel Rullan (ConPRmetidos).

Marriott has never asked VideoOut to do any sort of tagging, posting, mention, linking, or promotion. We should also say that Marriott is not sponsoring this post. We are, however, excited to share our experience because we want everyone to know about this team. We would like to extend a tremendously huge thank you to the Marriott extended family that made all of this possible: Alexa Simmons, Amanda Olcott, Beth Yoder, Cherilyn Williams, Emily Morrell, Janelle Burt, and Ryan Hallett.

For more about Marriott, #LoveTravels, and to stay plugged in, please visit lovetravelswithme.com.

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