Meet Marc: PlanetRomeo’s head Care Bear
Meet Marc, one of the most important parts in our PlanetRomeo machine. Marc is both the head of our Care team and also the coordinator of PlanetRomeo Foundation. So what does this involve?
The aim of our Care team is to provide support to our wider LGBT+ community, for example by offering free online health advice. Perhaps you didn’t know this, but if you have a question about your sexual health, you can chat to one of our many health experts for free. When you log in on the classic version of our site, simply click the Health Support box in the lower right hand corner of the screen.
“We want to make people feel free on PlanetRomeo,” Marc says, “but we also want them to make informed choices.” For Romeos who don’t have access to professional advice when it comes to their sexual health, this service can be a lifeline, and is one of the many things that makes PlanetRomeo unique. On average, the health experts were contacted almost 18,000 times in 2014 alone, offering their services for free to guys around the world.
But there’s more to Care than health advice. “PlanetRomeo was always very aware of its social responsibility,” explains Marc, who has worked for the company since 2011. As part of his Care role, Marc, along with his colleague Roy, ensures that Romeos who live in countries with homophobic laws are granted free PLUS accounts. While we are limited in what we can do for guys whose lives are made difficult by the laws of their home countries, we hope this small gesture will make finding other LGBT+ guys a little easier. As well as this, Marc decides which initiatives receive free banner space on our website, allowing them to advertise their services for free.
Marc is also coordinator of PlanetRomeo Foundation, an organization independent from PlanetRomeo that has been funding LGBTI+ projects since 2010. “Because we’re a gay company with support channels, we received calls for help from countries where it’s difficult to be gay,” Marc says. Before the Foundation was established, there was no protocol for choosing which projects received funding. “In the past it was a random choice,” explains Marc. “Whoever shouted the loudest got it. But as PlanetRomeo became bigger, it was decided that if we really wanted to make the right choices, we needed to make a separate organization.”
Since its creation, PlanetRomeo Foundation has funded projects that provide shelter and education for LGBT+ people all over the world. But before the Foundation was born, PlanetRomeo was funding projects of a different nature…
Back in 2010, PlanetRomeo was the proud sponsor of Gay Swim Amsterdam. “It came from PlanetRomeo being involved in the gay community,” Marc says. “We always got requests for exposure or to sponsor events.” As sponsors, we got our PlanetRomeo logo printed on the back of the swimmers’ Speedos and got to support a local group, but it soon became clear that we could be doing more valuable work. “It’s more important to support a shelter in Tunisia than Speedos in Amsterdam,” says Marc.
Aside from funding worldwide LGBT+ initiatives, PlanetRomeo also carries out research of its own. This began during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, an event surrounded in controversy due to Russia’s anti-gay laws. “There was so much homophobia and we wanted to give our Russian Romeos a voice,” Marc explains. Though the resulting survey was not especially scientific, it nevertheless revealed some shocking results, with 69% of Russian Romeos surveyed saying that the situation for LGBT+ people in their country was getting worse due to new anti-gay laws.
Since then, PlanetRomeo has moved onto bigger projects, such as the Gay Happiness Index that was published in 2015. The Index collected data on the overall satisfaction of LGBT+ people living in various countries around the world. This resulted in a ranking of the best and worst countries for LGBT+ people to live, as well as other statistics regarding the general wellbeing of non-straight people in countries around the world.
If you would like to learn more about our care team, simply click here. And if you’re interested in Marc’s work with PlanetRomeo Foundation and would like to find out how you can support upcoming projects, be sure to like their Facebook page and check out their website.