Lien: Pride Has Become a Corporate Sell-Out


(Chronicle archives)

By Kayla Lien, Opinion Writer


When most think of Pride, it’s all rainbows and laughter on a sunny June day. Flags wave proudly and bright colors adorn people’s clothes and faces. As a queer person, Pride feels like everything’s alright in the world. The part of you often forced into shame is now openly celebrated.

The parades boast multitudes of floats, where different brands come together to celebrate (and market to) the LGBTQ+ community. Throughout June, corporations attempt to stay in the good graces of queer people by adding rainbows to their logos and social media accounts. While flying flags and showing solidarity may sound like acceptance, it couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Every year we witness the act of rainbow-washing, when corporations add rainbow and queer imagery to advertisements, products and landmarks. It comes out in full force every June and lasts until July 1, where that LGBTQ+ support essentially disappears. This Pride month, we must remember that inherently capitalistic corporations and big-name brands performatively support LGBTQ+ for marketing campaigns.

Change in Pride

Pride originated after the Stonewall Riots of 1969, where people protested against the police’s violent raids of a gay bar in New York City. Following the riots, parades quickly became a yearly tradition to celebrate “dignity and self-worth,” with Utah’s own Pride festivities occurring since 1974.

The Pride Parade has operated since 1990 and sees a huge turnout every year. Utah’s own Pride Parade is the second-largest Utah parade, following the Days of ’47 Parade. Now at most Pride parades, companies use floats to flash their progressive sides in hopes of winning over more consumers.

Every May, stores get an influx of clothing and products often called their “Pride collections,” which often look like no queer person was involved in designing them. Pride merchandise utilizes queer culture and language to market products that most queer people don’t even buy. Further, it’s not incorrect to say that many retail stores exploit their workers, especially queer workers and people of color.

Nauseating Hypocrisy

Despite participating in Pride, corporations use the festivities for their own capital gain. Think tank and advocacy group Data for Progress published its Pride Corporate Accountability Project, providing information on Fortune 500 companies’ donations. The data covers spending from 2019 to 2022 and offers damning evidence of anti-LGBTQ+ political donations. Toyota, AT&T and Comcast all donated large amounts of money to anti-queer campaigns while putting on queer-friendly shows for social media.

This hypocritical behavior isn’t new. Amazon claims an opposition to discrimination but underpays its workers and mistreats people of color. They market Pride-themed campaigns while simultaneously selling anti-trans books.

Disney loves to tout its diversity, yet supports anti-queer legislation like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. After public outcry, Disney finally condemned Gov. Ron DeSantis, who retaliated by removing their special land use privilege. Disney also previously censored same-sex attraction in Pixar films.

Netflix reportedly fired the organizer of an employee walkout in protest of Dave Chappelle’s transphobic comedy special, and laid off 150 workers with ties to minority and LGBTQ-focused media. Yet they put on a big show with their “Celebrate Pride Month” collection on users’ screens.

You cannot claim to support the LGBTQ+ community if you are actively hurting it. It’s disheartening to know that the only time of acceptance is during a singular month while being subjected to hate crimes and discrimination makes up the other 11. Capitalism is not your friend and never will be.

Pretending to support the queer community while hindering progress and acceptance should be considered a crime. Pride is more than a party for people who have no stake in the issue, and it’s time for everyone to recognize that. As a queer person of color, I’m tired of watching as brand logos switch back from the rainbow as soon as June is over. Pride doesn’t mean anything to corporations once the month is through, but it means everything to the queer community. We don’t disappear once July hits, and hopefully one day these corporations will start to understand that.


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