It’s that time of year again. The most wonderful time. It’s Pride month! June kicks off a summer filled with oodles of Pride events all over the world. In the U.S., the LGBTQ+ community rallies together to celebrate and remember the Stonewall Riots of 1969, where our brothers and sisters stood together and fought back against harassment, hatred and oppression. We’ve made great progress over the years, which has helped Pride to flourish. While there’s always more progress to be made, Pride has certainly shifted towards being more about the festivities in recent years.
Art by Matt Lubchansky
This greater acceptance and visibility brings new faces each year. A swath of corporations are poised to elbow their way into the party, eager to prove their allyship. And there are plenty that should be welcomed with open arms. But there are many seeking to capitalize on a movement they couldn’t be further from. And they’re met by a community, relentlessly ready to meme them into shame. While the community strives to be wholly inclusive, it’s also extremely intolerant of outsiders claiming to understand or“support” the LGBTQ+ experience.
Support is a fragile concept when speaking in regards to oppressed subgroups. It’s incredibly shallow for a brand to simply change their social avatars to a rainbow flag and offer up an inspirational tweet of acceptance. It never comes across as genuine, and most people scoff at it and move on. Ultimately, genuine actions are the ones that will earn the community’s support and acceptance of a brand.
As a Brand:
If you’re looking to show support as a company, here are some parameters to inform decisions.
Seek out LGBTQ+ charitable parters.
Be vocal about it. Pledge to donate all or a significant portion of sales to these organizations and be completely transparent about it. If you’re claiming to be supportive, you best be supporting. These partners can be national, like the more well-known Trevor Project or GLSEN. But don’t forget your local community partners! If you’re a Chicago business like us, check out The Center on Halsted.
Utilize queer talent.
Seek out queer-identifying creatives to work on and weigh-in on marketing collateral. They possess an invaluable perspective. Look within your own organization first. We’re everywhere.
Make an active effort to hire from the LGBTQ+ community.
Educate current employees on inclusivity and offer support to existing LGBTQ+ employees.
Go beyond June. How can you support the community during the rest of the year?
Slap a rainbow on a pre-existing product without relevance.
Recycle past content.
Display disembodied individuals in LGBTQ+ relationships, such as two hands clasped together.
This strips away a layer of LGBTQ+ identity. Relationships look different for everyone and they deserve to be visible as they are.
Create a rainbow t-shirt.
This is lazy and cheap. Unless you’re an apparel company, it’s simply inappropriate. Try to focus on creating something that aligns with your brand.
As a Consumer:
If you’re looking to deck yourself out in rainbow swag, we love that for you, but we highly recommend thoughtfully spending those dollars.
Support independent queer artists.
There are an INSANE amount of queers artists out there making some truly badass merch. Don’t settle for the $7 rainbow tee from heteromart.
Donate or get involved with LGBTQ+ nonprofits. Volunteering time can be an equally valuable donation.
Here are a few of my favorite queer artists I encourage you to support: