Post #7: Identity Creation and Maintenance Rhetoric

1) Several identity strategies of organizational rhetoric are present on the homepage of Godrey’s website.

a. The organization employs association when use their mission statement to connect themselves with “excellence in hospitality, entertainment, and community involvement,” which are all viewed as generally positive things. In addition, the rainbow-colored banner near the top of the page is intentionally similar to the symbol of rainbows as LGBTQ+ equality and pride. Thus, Godfrey’s associates themselves with this symbol and asserts that their business is a safe place for members of this marginalized community.

b. Godfrey’s also uses differentiation on their homepage in their unofficial mission statement, which notes that they have been in business for twenty years. Their noting of their organizational age is significant because it suggests that they have been around longer than other clubs and are thus better qualified to provide positive experiences for visitors.

c. Several elements of branding are visible on Godfrey’s homepage. The picture of a drag queen featured at the top of the page suggests that Godfrey’s prides themselves on their extravagant performances. Additionally, the rainbow banner near the top of the page advocates for equality in the LGBTQ+ community and asserts that Godfrey’s is an inclusive organization.

d. These strategies help audiences focus on the critical aspects of Godfrey’s identity because they note what is important enough for the organization to put on their website’s homepage. Since the homepage is generally the first thing visitors to the website see, conveying a sense of pride in their over-the-top performers and a feeling of inclusion reveals that these are central to experiences at Godfrey’s.

e. Social media is the most prominent channel of delivery for Godfrey’s. A glimpse at the organization’s Instagram presence (through the filtered hashtags #godfreysrva and #godfreysva) contributes to identity creation because the website features customers’ voices and experiences. By showcasing the rhetoric created by audiences for audiences (instead of the organization’s carefully-executed messages), Godfrey’s creates an identity as an organization which values the input and satisfaction of audiences.

f. Godfrey’s is already regarded as an inclusive organization for members of the oft-marginalized LGBTQ+ community. To maintain this identity across time and advance their own goals, the organization might consider drawing upon current events (such as the recent switch to a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court) and asserting that Godfrey’s remains a safe space even during tense political climates.

2) Godfrey’s rhetoric emerges from a complex rhetorical situation. On one hand, many pro-LGBTQ+ individuals celebrate their extravagant and risqué performances in the contemporary context of more accepting and inclusive society; however, the general political values of the Southern U.S. (which encompasses Godfrey’s location in Richmond, Virginia) and the conservative majority in the federal government often oppose marriage equality and other LGBTQ+ freedoms. Godfrey’s strives to offer a safe place for those in the LGBTQ+ community as well as an enjoyable, lighthearted experience for visitors from all backgrounds.

a. This situation calls predominantly for identity maintenance rhetoric. Since Godfrey’s is a 20 year-old organization, their identity is largely complete; however, the organization understands the importance of maintaining this identity when the rights of the overall LGBTQ+ community are questioned.

b. Target audiences for this situation include LGBTQ+ individuals looking for safe but fun time as well as supporters of the LGBTQ+ community and this form of expression.

c. In this rhetoric, Godfrey’s faces the constraint of needing consistency. During tumultuous times in the United States, they must maintain their credibility as an organization despite criticism from conservatives and ensure that their business is a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community in the wake of tragedies such as the Pulse Nightclub shooting.