Each month seems to resemble something doesn’t it. It is no longer just Christmas that gets spoken about, often more than three months leading up to december, while now it is not even enough that mothers day, Halloween and Valentines day are hugely celebrated, or rather commercialized. Instead, as many of you are aware, there are many months in the year now that seem to have a specific theme. Such as Mental Health month, which was back in May, and now Pride Month. Both sounding like brilliant ways of raising awareness, yet meanwhile, it seems as if they are great ways for businesses to take advantage of these months.
But anyway, when you think of pride, a flush of rainbow parties, pride marches may spring to your mind. While most importantly, people who are part of the LGBT+ community may consider pride to be a time to reflect upon the the achievements of the movement, while continuing to be a voice for the millions of LGBT+ people, whom are still unable to speak up for themselves for a wide range of reasons. However the question which I would like to ask anyone who is reading this, is so far this year, what evidence have you seen of pride month? It would be nice if the former was true, but from my experience, there have certainly been more rainbow vodka bottles, floods of various rainbow coloured clothing as you walk through any mainstream retail store, not to forget the rainbow logo that Pret a Manger adopts for a month for a year.
What is Rainbow Capitalism?
While there have been many ways in which rainbow capitalism have been described, according to Wikipedia, rainbow capitalism is the incorporation of the LGBT movement, sexual diversity, and pinkwashing to capitalism, consumerism, gentrification, and the market economy. And you don’t need to go very far to find an example of it, as just by heading out, you are likely to find multiple brands incorporating the pride flag onto their products, or even evidence of their attempts to produce items relating to pride.
Why do Companies Bother?
It is obvious, companies want to make as much money as possible, therefore if they are able to win over some LGBT+ customers, or if they can get a little more money by selling products relevant to pride month, then it only makes sense that they would do so. Now while many have argued that by and large this is “ok”, as this is just another inevitable consequence of capitalism, which cannot be that harmful considering that it at least raises awareness; what gets to me is the sheer hipocrasy of some of the firms involved in this. For instance, American phone company AT&T who boasts about turning “up the love”, by “celebrating important moments for the community” and by “promoting acceptance”, also happen to be “donating money to politicians that describe gay marriage as a “breakdown of the family.” Meanwhile in 2018, Pfizer proudly sported a rainbow logo during June, while they also donated nearly one million dollars to 52 anti-gay politicians between 2017 and 2018. While it is true that large companies are probably going to lobby whoever is in power, regardless of varying standpoints on a range of social issues, to me it still seems largely wrong that firms are “working with” politicians who stand against the cause that the firm is alegidely supporting. After all, it all boils down to money.
What Pride is Meant to be About?
Pride is said to have kicked off with the stonewall riots, at a time when homosexuality was still catagorised as a mental illness. While pride is said to be “rooted in riots and revolution, in self-expression, autonomy, and anti-capitalism.” While it is said to remain “a culmination of the trauma all queer people have suffered transformed into a righteous anger and a demand for equality.” Of course this meaning of pride is very important to the LGBT+ community, because it represents the struggles which the LGBT+ community has faced in the past, and continues to face today.
What can you do About it?
It can seem extremely difficult to know what to do, considering that it is extremely difficult if not impossible to avoid buying from these kind of corporations. Therefore, it raises the question as to whether we ought to buy pride related products, from firms who may not necessarily support pride. From my point of view, if possible, then buy from small queer owned businesses, who really care about the products in which they sell in order to support pride. Furthermore, if you are able to, then consider donating to small queer owned companies. However, most importantly, it is important for us to be aware of the issues relating to the way which corporations have the tendency to embrace pride month for profit, without necessarily being the most true supporters of pride.