Kenneth Cole: Businesses Must Engage With LGBTQ Community

"This is the hand that feeds you."

Fashion designer and activist Kenneth Cole has been an advocate for LGBTQ equality for nearly three decades—and he says business leaders have a responsibility to do so.

Cole has teamed up with the UN Foundation and hot new musical The Prom to back UN Free & Equal, a global initiative of the UN Human Rights Office supporting the fair treatment and equal rights of LGBTQ people around the world.

Cole has designed a special t-shirt based on the musical and proceeds from sales will be donated to the UN Foundation to support the work of UN Free & Equal.

“I think the business community must engage with the [LGBTQ] community,” Cole told NewNowNext after a special Prom performance and panel discussion on Tuesday (December 4). “This is the hand that feeds you. I think they’ll eventually get here. Their hearts will get here or their balance sheets will. Hopefully it’s the former, not the latter.”

UN diplomats representing countries in every major world region attended Tuesday night’s Prom show, including many members of the UN LGBTI Core Group a coalition of UN member states, NGOs, and the UN Human Rights Office working together at the UN to advance LGBTI human rights globally.

UN LGBTI Core Group members were also invited to ask one non-UN LGBTI Core Group member guest to the performance so as to broaden the circle of friends and partners working on these issues.

As an official part of the show’s merchandise line, the t-shirt is sold at the Longacre Theatre in New York, but you can also find them online at and

Lamar Dawson is a pop culture junkie and pop diva addict living in Manhattan. Follow him on everything @dirrtykingofpop.