"If you just walk in and feel like you fit there, like your family fits in there -- I think love travels that way," says Chad, who, with his husband Scott, is the father of two adorable moppets: Olivia and Lucas. The two men married the first day it was legal in the United States, and later shared their story of coming together and raising kids as part of Marriott's #LoveTravels campaign.
Launched in 2014, Marriott International's largest-ever diversity campaign could have been a quick one-off meant to appeal to LGBTQ travelers. But what it turned into--a national artistic and social media phenom about home, pride, identity, family, love, and belonging (at home or on the road)--became so much more.
Photographer Braden Summers shot a series of famous LGBTQ Americans (basketball player Jason Collins, trans model Geena Rocero) and regular real-life couples. The photos were turned into an online gallery and giant photo wraps that swaddled five Marriott-owned hotels in D.C. with videos of folks talking about their loves, lives, and travels.
Fast forward three years and the love continues, this time with an extension of last year's amazing project where people were asked to submit an expression of love of any sort and send it in. For each submission, Marriott International donated money to Casa Ruby, the only bilingual, multicultural, LGBTQ organization providing lifesaving services and safe shelter to many of the most vulnerable transgender residents of Washington D.C.
This year, if you're in the nation's capital for what's expected to be one of the biggest LGBTQ Pride celebrations in modern history (including the historical LGBTQ March for Equality), you can be part of the action. Marriott is hosting two Expression Sessions, on June 8th and 9th in Freedom Plaza. Come and create a message of love and support for the LGBTQ community to be added to the #LoveTravels Mosaic -- which is already replete with paintings, doodles, photographs, and handwritten letters from around the world. The large mosaic will be on display in Freedom Plaza for a full 48-hours and for each piece of art added, Marriott International will donate to Casa Ruby.
At the same time, cities across the globe will be participating in Expression Session events with Marriott in support of the cause. In addition to the Expression Sessions that benefit Casa Ruby, this year, Marriott International has partnered with True Colors Fund on their True Innovation Fellowship. The True Colors and Marriott partnership provides one young person with the opportunity to participate in the development of a mobile app that will help homeless youth find safe shelter, bathrooms, and other important resources.
The company's long standing commitment to marriage equality and gay rights issues, including partnerships with the Human Rights Campaign, PFLAG, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, is more than just about courting the LGBTQ consumer, these endeavors are an essential part of the company's DNA. And when tens of thousands of LGBTQ people and their allies travel from around the world to witness this generation's most momentous LGBTQ parade and march, that being part of the universal movement of hope, empowerment, and solidarity will remind all of us that Marriott welcomes all, no matter who you are.