July 21, 2019 News Magazine

Wear Your Voice centers marginalized communities with a little help from Mark Cuban

It’s hard to feel seen, heard and represented as a person of color in today’s current media landscape. Ravneet Vohra (pictured above), founder and CEO of Wear Your Voice, is changing that.

Wear Your Voice is an intersectional feminist multimedia platform that aims to center marginalized communities, including those who are queer, trans, non-binary, female, black, brown, Asian, Indigenous or some combination of those identities. The site features stories race, identity, body politics, culture, health and, of course, news and politics.

“Wear Your Voice was born out of my own story growing up as a South Asian woman in a mainly white community and not feeling seen or heard,” Vohra told TechCrunch. “Not just within the community I was in, but also in multimedia. Out of my pain, I made it my power and launched Wear Your Voice.”

Vohra bootstrapped WYV for the first five years, hit a rough patch in 2018, but survived because “our audience saved us,” she said.

“That’s when you know you’re destined to stay,” Vohra said. “Because nothing speaks louder than the support of people on the Internet saying, ‘No, you are integral to our safety. You provide a safe space.’ So people started throwing money at us.”

But Vohra and WYV were still in survival mode. The company needed more than enough money to survive. It needed money to thrive.

“It’s been an interesting journey,” she said. “I’ve tried the VC route and the angel route, and I always felt like the door was getting closed in my face because we weren’t centering white people.”

Wear Your Voice didn’t receive its first bit of outside funding until investor and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban came along. Vohra said she later “stumbled upon Mark, and that was a really defining moment.”

To date, Cuban is the company’s sole outside investor.

“With him coming on board, I now have a clearer, more defined role,” she said. “I’m now moving away from a survival mode into being able to do my job.”

With a recent influx of capital from Cuban, Wear Your Voice is building out its team, improving on its technology and forming partnerships  — most recently a paid partnership with Planned Parenthood.

“My investment in Wear Your Voice was based on many factors, but the ultimate deciding factor was the high level of content they publish and the community it serves,” Cuban said in a statement. “Saying that, WYV doesn’t just serve underrepresented communities of color, it is also a place for the rest of us to listen and learn.”

Earlier this month, WYV partnered with Planned Parenthood for the Summer of Sex campaign. The campaign aims to center the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and other sexualities, sexes and genders (LGBTQIA+) and black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC).

Sex is something that cannot be singularly defined, and yet so many continually attempt to define it through rigid hetero and cisnormative understandings. With this campaign, we are igniting and continuing important conversations about sex — from sex positivity, sexual health, and sexual liberation to purity culture’s effects on people of color, especially queer and trans folks. From desirability politics — how racism, misogyny, fatphobia, ableism, and more impact how we think about sex, attraction, humanity, and certain people’s prescribed roles — to masturbation and sex toys. From STI stigma and sex education to debunking myths about the clitoris and de-centering the penis and penetration in our understandings of sex and pleasure. We want to explore the myriad of ways QTBIPOC experience sex and the things surrounding it.

To achieve this, WYV is producing a number of articles, essays and interviews around the topic of sex.

“This is huge,” Vohra told me. “It’s a big deal for me because this explores sex through the QTBIPOC lens.”

Down the road, expect to see more partnerships with brands and corporations, Vohra said.

“There are so many other campaigns in the pipeline,” Vohra said. “We are also looking for more investment so I can continue to grow and really shake up the status quo of how normal digital media companies are operated and show them how to do it better.”


Source: TechCrunch

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