Pride month is here and it is different to the parades we've grown so used to celebrating. This year, with COVID-19 affecting the globe and our ability to gather for a month of celebrating, and the Black Lives Matter movement rightfully and critically front and centre, we are returning to Prides roots of riot and revolution to stand in solidarity with BIPOC everywhere in the fight for racial justice and equality.
While things are quite obviously not the same, there are many ways to celebrate pride while also showing up as an ally and engaging in activism daily. We recently put together a piece on where to donate this Pride month, namely to Black-owned LGBTQI+ organisations, which provide support to some of the most marginalised. We also mentioned being wary of large corporations supporting Pride with Pride-themed products, and to investigate further before blindly buying products that claim to support the queer community.
The reason behind this, is what is now known as "Rainbow capitalism". Da'Shaun Harrison, a Black nonbinary writer explains it best in their piece 'Symbolism is Not Enough': "“Rainbow Capitalism,” also referred to as pink capitalism, is a term used to detail the allusion to incorporation of LGBTQI+ rights into corporations with profit-incentives – especially as it pertains to White, cisgender, western, upper-class gay men. Rainbow capitalism describes how capitalism uses the identities/bodies/work of marginalised – in this case, queer – people to sustain itself.".
Each year, as Pride approaches and the month of June rolls around, the proverbial rainbow carpets come rolling out and the product promotions begin. Corporate Instagrams are plastered with #loveislove hashtags and they suddenly have rainbow paraphernalia coming out of their ears. While I appreciate the well-intended support, I am no longer here for performative allyship, especially when it commodifies as Harrison points out, the work, identities and bodies of the LGBTQI+ community for profit without giving back to that same community.
Instead of buying from corporations who show their support for one month out of the year and rarely give back or implement initiatives that support diversity and equal opportunity for both BIPOC and LGBTQI+ folks, this year consider using your spending dollars on brands that are inclusive at their core, and are owned by LGBTQI+ and/or BIPOC. This, and donating to organisations directly is one of the most effective ways to ensure equity and support for representation inside the industry and beyond.
Image credit: @noto_botanics