Pride month is upon us once again, and since the course of the past few days, we once again see the internet awash with pride merchandise and rainbow logos. To the casual observer, the commercialization of pride month can seem harmless - perhaps even disguising itself as “progress”. After all, if corporations are celebrating pride, that must be a signal toward more general acceptance and understanding of the LGBTQ+ community.
But for queer folk who have been victim to discriminatory business practices (while being largely left out of the conversation), the sudden rainbowization can seem like a big slap in the face.
There are some great, honest ways that brands can celebrate pride month that are both thoughtful & meaningful, without being pandering or insulting to any part of the queer community. But in order to truly understand why this matters, we need some history.
What is Pride Month All About?
Pride Month - or simply, "Pride" - dates back to the 1950s and 1960s, when the United States was a horribly repressive - even dangerous - society for queer people. Being anything other than a straight, cisgendered person was considered a mental illness. The LGBTQ+ community kept to the shadows due to the innate risk of being wrongfully arrested, attacked, or in some cases - even murdered. Police raids on the few existing queer spaces were commonplace and in many cases were encouraged by lawmakers and the feds.
Activists during these years risked life and limb to make the voices of the community heard. They wanted the majority of Americans to understand that - not only did queer people exist, but they didn’t receive equal rights or protections under the law. After the Stonewall Riots in 1969 where police brutally raided the Stonewall Inn in New York, the community raised its voice against their treatment at the hands of police, government, and society.
Fast-forward to today, and most major metropolitan areas in the US celebrate pride in various ways - with parades, marches, and celebrations that are open to everyone. These festivities are a celebration of life, of love, and of coming together to be our genuine selves. But the struggle isn't over. Those pioneers’ work continues on today while activists continue to battle repressive new laws targeting queer workers, school youth & trans athletes.
Share Your Brand’s Pride Story
For businesses that already celebrate their diversity and put policies in place to protect that diversity - Pride Month can be an opportunity to share your brand’s story. Using interactive formats such as video & audio can help tell your story in ways that connect with the audience’s emotions. Some questions to consider:
How has your organization contributed to grassroots community efforts?
How has your business worked to encourage diversity in the workplace and give queer people a place to thrive?
Have your business practices always been inclusive?
Do your LGBTQ+ employees have a seat at the table?
Unfortunately, many brands see Pride Month as an opportunity to appear progressive, when in actuality they do little-to-nothing to advance the diversity of their community.
Share The Wealth
One of the more insulting ways that businesses go into June is to suddenly release a slew of rainbow products - and then pocketing all that “queer cash” without contributing to the conversation. There are a number of grassroots organizations that focus on helping LGBTQ+ people, such as:
The Trevor Project is an American nonprofit organization founded in 1998. It focuses on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth. Through a toll-free telephone number, it operates The Trevor Lifeline, a confidential service that offers trained counselors.
Trans Lifeline is a trans-led organization that connects trans people to the community, support, and resources they need to survive and thrive.
BSA is a vehicle to empower and elevate queer and trans voices, particularly those belonging to people of color, to allow our communities a seat at the table on key decision making processes that impact the community of Chicago.
Ask for Help
If you're unsure of how your business can participate in Pride Month, find someone who's knowledgeable and connected to the queer community. Solicit the opinions of LGBTQ+ people you know. Find out how your business can be an ally, without trying to profit on years of hard-fought battles that still exist today.
Fresh Squeeze Digital is a proud LGBTQ+ Owned Business. For more information, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.