Can Corporations Sell Pride?

Image courtesy of Jarry Lee / Buzzfeed 

By Margaret Adams

June is Pride month, a time when the country recognizes and appreciates the LGBT community, history, and legacy. With the start of Pride month also comes the start of corporations changing their logos to incorporate rainbows in support of the LGBT community, and the public opinion on corporations participating in and promoting Pride month has become divided. 

Some people believe that the public support and promotion of Pride month by big corporations is a positive thing, as they have historically not always been supportive of the community. Being publicly supportive of the LGBT community is a huge step in the right direction for many businesses and corporations, but intent is also important. 

Many people are doubtful of meaningful support from big corporations; studies have shown that more than half of consumers will buy from brands that take stands on social issues. Corporations like Target, Walmart, and Youtube make certain products that include rainbow imagery and LGBTQ+ markers in order to kill two birds with one stone: to prove to consumers that they are progressive, and to make money off of the LGBT community. 

Illustrating a public promotion of Pride month both spreads the message of equality and acceptance, while also gaining more consumers from the community itself. 

Despite the good message that promoting LGBTQ+ Pride spreads, using Pride as a selling point undermines the history of struggles that the LGBTQ+ community has experienced in this country. Pride month commemorates the Stonewall Riots, which occurred at the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan at the end of June in 1969. 

Since then, many events have been held toward the end of June to memorialize and remember the lives lost due to violence against the LGBTQ+ community throughout history, and to celebrate the continuing acceptance and liberation of people in the LGBTQ+  community around the world. 

When a big company, like Walmart, decides to add a section called “Pride Shop” and sell merchandise surrounding Pride month that includes rainbows and phrases like “Born This Way,” it seems harmless and even beneficial; nevertheless, selling “Pride” can be used to cheapen its real meaning and history, and using LGBTQ+ markers as a means to gain customers is false allyship. Ultimately, these companies are monetizing off of the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community, and profiting from their culture. 

Despite the progress made within the last decades, the country still has a long way to go in truly liberating and accepting the LGBTQ+ community; it was only on June 6, 2019, that New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill gave a formal apology to the LGBTQ+ community on behalf of the New York Police Department for the actions of its officers at Stonewall in 1969. 

At the end of this month, corporations will remove the rainbows from their logos and return to “normal”, while the LGBTQ+ community will continue to struggle for acceptance and liberation from government intolerance and violence. Pride month is an excellent time to raise awareness and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, but corporations displaying their “allyship” for a limited time to profit from that community is not as progressive as they might think. 

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