Despite recent liberalising forces which have come into play, the fact of lesbian and gay social exclusion and its effects have rendered this community (at least) half-hidden and often defensive of outsiders. This makes both the subject of homosexuality and this sector of the population extremely difficult to research by means of conventional methodologies and techniques. Moreover, estimates of the incidence of the lesbian and gay population and attempts to segment it must be treated with caution.
'gay lifestyle has attracted considerable commercial interest in recent years'
Nevertheless, the (possibly assumed) 'gay lifestyle' has attracted considerable commercial interest in recent years, largely on account of lesbian and gay peoples' enhanced spending power when compared with their heterosexual counterparts. All sorts of figures have been bandied about as evidence of the upmarket social make-up of the lesbian and gay population and its accompanying consumerist habits. Whilst the accuracy and ultimate usefulness of such figures are questionable, logic would dictate that a sector of the population which is typified by not producing off-spring is likely to have more spare cash than those who do.
So yes, it does makes sense to research the lesbian and gay market, and no, this cannot be achieved within the context of a mainstream research agency. Consequently, Stormbreak was launched to address the research needs of this area.
Stormbreak is first and foremost gay owned, thereby providing insider knowledge and understanding of the market, and, equally important, access to it.
All researchers working on lesbian and gay-related projects are themselves lesbian and gay. Recruitment, interviews and moderating are conducted by sex-matched lesbians and gay men. Venues for interviewing and moderating are selected on the basis of being lesbian and gay owned and/or lesbian and gay friendly.
'Stormbreak has developed a panel of lesbian and gay respondents'
The commercial lesbian and gay scene is likely to be representative of only a minority of the lesbian and gay population, and, therefore, over-emphasis on pubs and clubs as interviewing venues is likely to lead to skewed results. To overcome this difficulty, Stormbreak has developed a panel of lesbian and gay respondents, and also makes use of interviewers' networking abilities to achieve snowballed samples of non-scene lesbians and gays.
Stormbreak has an established arrangement with the Terrence Higgins Trust, whereby charitable donations are made on behalf of participants in lesbian and gay-related surveys. When surveys are in field, letterhead is provided by the THT to authenticate this practice.
Stormbreak is a member of the Gay Business Association, and entitled to use its logo on fieldwork and other materials, giving added weight to the professional nature of research projects the company carries out amongst the lesbian and gay community. Stormbreak is also listed in the Gay to Z, the Yellow Pages of gay and lesbian businesses and organisations in the UK.
Synopses of the following studies are provided below: