Pride month is upon us, and it comes with rainbow everything. If you walk into any Target, Urban Outfitters, or American Eagle, you’ll see vibrant clothing and accessories all themed around love and equality. The stores are filled with unique products that are decorated with rainbows, various pride flags, and hearts. After all, everyone wants to be as beautiful and fun as possible for all the Pride festivities. Unfortunately, the rainbow shirt and shoes you’re wearing might not be doing much to help the LGBTQ community, besides giving more money to companies looking to make a buck off of the community’s celebration.
Photo: Abigail Hadfield
Pride-themed advertising is everywhere, not just in clothing stores. If you open up any social media app, you’ll find filters and ads that cater to the LGBTQ community during Pride month. Even Amazon’s Alexa provides users with Pride-themed facts and trivia if you ask. Stores that don’t even sell Pride merchandise still put up rainbow flags in the windows and tweet out supportive messages for the world to see. In many Pride parades, corporations such as Southwest Airlines, TD Bank, and many others will actually march in the parade and even hand out items such as flags or whistles that have their company logo.
At first glance, this is fantastic. Many members of the LGBTQ community see this as positive progress because their community is finally viewed as important enough to warrant a marketing campaign. After all, if large corporations see this community as a demographic to cater to, that means corporate America is recognizing LGBTQ individuals as not only an identifiable consumer base, but as valuable customers, right?
Photo: Abigail Hadfield
Not exactly. Many companies recognize the monetary value of Pride marketing without any positive intentions regarding to the LGBTQ community. Stores roll out Pride banners and offer rainbow themed merchandise, but then keep all the profits for themselves. Yet, despite the profit they gain only for their own benefit, they are still recognized as progressive and supportive companies. Essentially, they making money off of the celebration of the LGBTQ community in order to support their own business.
For example, Dr. Martens is currently offering a pair of rainbow tie-dye boots for Pride month, with a price tag of $145. On their website, they say that a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Trevor Project, but they don’t list how much. Kenneth Cole has a Pride-themed collection on their website, but other than saying that they are “proud supporters” of the community, they don’t say what they have done to provide support or if any proceeds will be donated.
Earlier this month, Mic put together a list of which companies are using their Pride-themed merchandise to support the LGBTQ community, and which companies are simply looking to make a buck. The article lists how much of the proceeds are donated and where the donations are sent to. Go check and see which companies are worth your support this Pride month, as well as the rest of the year. In addition to this list, the Human Rights Campaign publishes an annual report called a Corporate Equality Index. In this report, they rank companies across America based on their treatment and support of the LGBTQ community year-round, not just when it is convenient in June.
With these two resources, and with the power of a simple Google search, it’s very easy to find out which stores are worth supporting this Pride month. Although a company might have a float in a parade or change their online logo for a few weeks, that does not always mean they are truly supporting the LGBTQ community. In the age of information, we have the ability to know where all this money actually goes, and with that power, we can ensure that all LGBTQ-themed products are actually supportive in practice, not just in appearance.
This Pride month, go and find companies that are worth your support and purchase your rainbow attire and various accessories from those companies. Alternatively, you can go on websites like Etsy or Redbubble and find LGBTQ artists to buy from. This way, you know that you are directly supporting another member of this community. Finally, if you’d like to save some money, make your own accessories. Pride is about being unique and celebrating our individuality, so wear what truly defines and represents you in the best way possible.
Abigail is a rising sophomore at Emerson College studying for a BFA in creative writing. She spends most of her free time during the year working for her school newspaper, but also enjoys going to poetry readings, spending time with friends, and cheering for her hometown Philadelphia sports teams.