Tom Pfanner

What pride means, when it’s missing: The importance of positive LGBITQ role-models in rural regions

Tourism destination, border region and home of many international corporations: Vorarlberg is a surprisingly diverse and progressive Austrian region in the fields of architecture, culture and business. Nevertheless, there’s a clashing and irritating simultaneity with a conservative mentality in politics and society. While there are some LGBTIQ-executives in influential organisations, there are few to none who have come out and show pride – instead, the Vorarlbergian society has performed a culture between shame and carelessness ever since.
GoWest, the LGBTIQ-association of Vorarlberg, has been working on a visibility story project called „Mission Pride“, which aims to tell one queer story from every single Vorarlbergian village. From heart-warming love-stories to people who have decided to never come out. Having interviewed a variety of LGBTIQ-individuals, many of them stated the lack of role models in Vorarlberg.
In this talk we elaborate the impacts of certain dominant narratives, the simultaneity of those and the importance of visible executives in rural regions. Together with the audience we want to discuss how a change towards an inclusive LGBTIQ-society on a regional level can emerge and what role corporations could take in this transformation.


Cultural Manager and LGBTIQ-activist | GoWest – Association for LGBTIQ* in Vorarlberg


Tom Pfanner (27) is an Austrian LGBTIQ-activist committed to the Vorarlbergian association GoWest. In his ten years of engagement he has initiated the youth group {hobit, led several school workshops and organized a monthly film screening. Last year he created the website, in which he collects queer stories from every single village of Vorarlberg. In his freetime he has worked as a cultural manager for the classical music festival “Montforter Zwischentöne”. He currently studies in the Master’s program of Management at the University of Mannheim.