Taking a look at all the rainbow flags in big cities, and temporary rainbow redesigns of corporate logos, it’s easy to forget that the modern incarnation of the LGBT rights movement began with a riot. This point is particularly relevant now, as 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the aftermath of the infamous police raid on the gay nightclub, the Stonewall Inn. Does the recent trend of businesses celebrating Pride support LGBTQ communities and the history of activism, or simply trivialize it for a quick buck?
Pride is, first and foremost, a celebration by queer people for queer people, and a remembrance of the ongoing process of fighting inequality and oppression. But it’s also a big, fabulous explosion of color and music, making it a blast for queer people and allies alike. It’s only natural that forward-minded companies join in as both a marketing opportunity and a way to show real support.
Human Rights Campaign’s 2019 Corporate Equality Index ranks several Fortune 500 companies in terms of LGBT inclusion, insurance for partners regardless of gender, medical support for trans people in transition, and other concerns. Some very large companies such as Walmart, Kroger and General Motors earned top marks. While not every business waving a flag this June is necessarily gay-friendly, at the very least the general trend in large companies is toward inclusion and fairness.
While positive visibility and recognition are predominately viewed as beneficial to the queer community at large, there’s little value in a company waving a flag one month and forgetting the LGBTQ world the rest of the year. Unless a company actively engages in fair and inclusive practices and honestly looks at how it treats their employees and clients, businesses are just cashing in on a trend rather than doing any real good.
I don’t have any friends that only speak to me in June. I would hope that brands would treat the LGBT community the same way. The community is saying, ‘Don’t just be my friend when you think it’s my month.'
Even support from genuinely queer-friendly companies comes with its own problematic element, namely that it shifts the focus from the free expression of identity despite oppression to a watered-down commercial event that serves advertisers more than it does LGBTQ people.
Some people just ain't having it, regardless. Pride isn't a "hooray for capitalism" parade.
Daphne: Hey wait a minute, this #pride sticker comes right off! Velma: Who are you really?! *pulls off rainbow flag* The entire Scooby Gang: It's Corporate Greed! Fred: Wait a minute gang, there's something else under here! Scooby: Ruh roh! Shaggy: Like, it's Capitalism, man!