Ella York - Teen Aspect - June 28th, 2022
As June is coming to an end, it’s safe to say that corporations have been loud and proud (pun intended) about Pride Month. It certainly seems like a sign of progress in regard to the LGBTQ+ community, especially with nearly every company making rainbow logos and selling Pride merchandise. After all, raising awareness is the goal of Pride Month, is it not? Surely, these rainbow logos are all done with good intentions, right?
Unfortunately, this is not exactly the case.
‘Corporate Pride,’ as it’s called, has been under fire from many members of the LGBTQ+ community this year, and it’s not without reason.
In order to understand the criticism of these marketing campaigns, it’s important to know both the history of Pride Month, and the reality of what many of these big companies are truly doing.
Pride Month was initially created as a commemoration of the Stonewall Uprising, which occurred in June of 1969 (i). The Stonewall Inn, a popular haven for the queer community, was raided by police, which triggered riots against the unfair treatment of the LGBTQ+ community. The next year, the first Pride march was held, and was used to remember the riots and what they fought for (ii).
Since then, Pride celebrations have been organized every year, though the meaning seems to have been buried beneath the glitter and confetti.
In recent years, Pride has turned into more of a party than a movement. Of course, that’s not to say that it should be a somber event, either. It’s a celebration of the queer community, and that shouldn’t be disregarded. However, with queer people facing so many issues, such as increased rates of youth homelessness and hate crimes, it’s also important to shine a light on the things that need to be improved on.
This is where ‘Corporate Pride’ begins to fail.
See, while it’s great to see that the LGBTQ+ community is being recognized, it’s not-so-great to see companies using Pride as a marketing tool.
The problem is that companies are sticking rainbows on their logos, tweeting out Pride messages, and not doing anything else.
In fact, most corporations that sell Pride merch don’t donate any substantial amounts of money to pro-LGBTQ+ groups. The more common route for these companies is to profit off of Pride without giving anything back to the queer community (iii). Those that do often don’t specify what percentage of the profits from their Pride collections are being donated, instead opting to put vague messages such as, “portions of the profits will be donated.”
Even more egregious are companies that actively fund anti-LGBTQ+ groups and people.
Back in 2018, Adidas sponsored the World Cup in Russia, a country notorious for human rights violations, especially those against LGBTQ+ people (iv). Yet at the same time, Adidas offered a collection of Pride-themed merchandise. Seems a bit hypocritical, no?
Not only are corporations incredibly two-faced when it comes to Pride, but some are also selective about where they chose to advertise their ‘pride.’
One particularly alarming example of this was when Bethesda, a video game developer, changed their Twitter logo to showcase Pride colors, well, except for their page in the Middle East, which remained as the original design (iv).
All of this makes it seem as though ‘Corporate Pride’ does more harm than good. After all, using marginalized groups solely for profit isn’t exactly a winning plan. However, there are groups that use their Pride collections to support the LGBTQ+ community and do it well.
One example of this is Happy Socks, a creator of fun and unique sock designs.
Rather than only having a Pride collection for the month of June, Happy Socks has them available year-round. While most companies simply sell their Pride products until they run out, Happy Socks provides Pride-themed socks at all times. The group also provides regular donations to pro-LGBTQ+ youth organizations, according to their spokesperson (v).
Companies that donate to LGBTQ+ groups are proof that the community has come a long way in a short amount of time.
In fact, when you think about it, even empty ‘Corporate Pride’ shows that it’s become more profitable for companies to pander to the queer community, rather than to those that discriminate against it.
This year, if you want to help support LGBTQ+ people, take the time to research which companies are making genuine efforts to help versus those that just want to make a profit.
And, of course, have a great Pride Month!
i. Library of Congress. (n.d.). About : Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and Queer Pride month : library of Congress. The Library of Congress. Retrieved June 13, 2022, from https://www.loc.gov/lgbt-pride-month/about/
ii. Baume, M. (2020, June 25). What is Pride Month and the history of pride? them. Retrieved June 13, 2022, from https://www.them.us/story/the-complete-history-of-pride
iii. Hessekiel, D. (2019, July 25). Should corporations participate loudly in Pride? Forbes. Retrieved June 13, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidhessekiel/2019/07/25/should-corporations-participate-loudly-in-pride/?sh=58549b383244
iv. Williams, T. (2021, June 10). The hollowness of Corporate Pride. Medium. Retrieved June 13, 2022, from https://marker.medium.com/the-hollowness-of-corporate-pride-ab2839f89d73
v. George-Parkin, H. (2019, July 2). Rainbow Listerine and bottles of Bud Light: What happens to the Merch when pride is over. Vox. Retrieved June 13, 2022, from https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/7/2/20678957/pride-merch-june-target-nike