The Intersection of Pride Month and Rainbow Capitalism
As with any important movement in history, Pride Month acknowledges the hardships, oppression, and violence of the past while celebrating the acceptance and equality of the LGBTQ community members in recent years. While life is generally easier for LGBTQ people than in the past, there is still progress that needs to be made for true equality.
The Stonewall Uprising of 1969 (pioneered by transgender women of color) is said to be the beginning of the U.S. LGBTQ liberation movement. This ultimately lead to the decriminalization of homosexuality and spawned more open visibility and assimilation into mainstream culture. Today, Pride Month is acknowledged worldwide as a special mix of protest, celebration, and activism.
As support for LGBTQ people continues to grow, so too does the incentive for corporations and brands to publicly brand themselves as supportive of the community — regardless of the actions that they're taking behind the scenes to actually support LGBTQ people. The critique of rainbow capitalism comes into play when companies commodify awareness, separating activism from action. Ultimately, it comes down to intention.
While rainbow capitalism in itself isn't problematic, the issue comes into play when companies don't directly support or incorporate the LGBTQ community in the process. It’s important to be able to dissect whether companies are practicing solidarity, virtue signaling, or profiting off of disingenuous performative queer support.
It behooves companies to put their money where their mouth is and not just take part in this popular marketing campaign. Brands are in a unique position to show genuine allyship and spark productive conversation during Pride Month.
Celebrating Pride is more than just rainbows and rainbow-washing, but making actual positive impacts on a historically marginalized community. A surefire way to support the LGBTQ community is to support queer creators, champion for LGBTQ employees, ensure representation, and commit to the movement, not just the moment.
Here are some resources for allies: