How to navigate “Corporate Pride” during Pride Month
Starting around May, many corporations and businesses start donning their pride merch and break their rainbow flags out of the closet. But what are they actually doing to support the community besides changing their trademark logos to rainbow?
While some companies actively advocate for and support the community, many do it for the clout of pride month. It can be a bit hard to navigate, so here is a guide to help navigate the “corporate pride” scene that emerges for pride month.
H&M is launching a high-tech “Beyond the Rainbow’’ campaign that highlights the life stories of LGBTQ+ people. The campaign also shares the stories of some H&M employees and what pride means to them. While visibility and story sharing is important to the community, so are donations and funding to the many wonderful nonprofits that do work for the community. H&M says they will match donations to The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and crisis intervention center.
Nike releases new items to their #BETRUE campaign annually just in time for pride month. However what doesn’t get released is whether or not the proceeds from the sale of clothing from this line go to LGBTQ+ nonprofits or right in their pockets. Companies like this are so proud when they roll out their pride lines for June every year so don’t be shy, show us where the money goes!
Target may fool people with their all-inclusive advertisements and upbeat aura but it doesn’t erase the fact that they had to be financially swayed to not donate to anti-LGBTQ+ groups anymore in 2017. Yes, you read that right. In 2017, Target agreed to stop donating to the Minnesota Forward group in exchange for exclusive sales rights to Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way.” After donating 500k in the same year (as a gesture to erase what they were doing all the years before), VP Dustee Tucker Jenkins said that he hoped the donation would “demonstrate our commitment to the LGBT community.” More like securing more money from the community. In 2021, Target released #takepride, what many say is the most over-the-top and somewhat offensive pride line on the market today, and the saddest part is that the measly $100,000 donation to GLSEN isn’t even tied to the profits made from the line. It seems like this corporation should take a better look at what they lead people to believe about their inclusivity and support of the LGBTQ+ community.
Spotify is continuing to connect us through music this pride month. Through their campaign “CLAIM YOUR SPACE”, Spotify is promoting queer artists through playlists, murals, and their annual Pride Hub. Through their queer-artist-curated Pride Venue Playlists and and Pride Cities playlists, they promote local queer musicians and highlight popular queer spaces and landmarks. The annual Pride Hub celebrates and promotes queer artists by sharing their music with the world and creating a centralized space to find it all. Spotify is also teaming up with queer artists in New Orleans, Nashville, and Detroit to create permanent murals to celebrate places where queer people were crucial to the music scene. While we would’ve liked to see a donation from Spotify, we appreciate the work they are doing to promote queer musicians and artists around the globe, and to create spaces for us to do that.
This year, Apple released 2 Pride Edition Bands for Apple Watch. Apple was obscure when it came to where the proceeds for this latest edition will be going to, saying that “with this latest introduction, Apple is proud to build on its long-running financial support for LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations working to bring about positive change…” and going on to name a few. Don’t be shy, show us where the money goes and how much it is!
Converse’s “Find Your Pride” line is a community favorite with their brightly colored and creatively designed shoes and ongoing initiatives to support the LGBTQ+ community. The company has donated $1.3 million over the past 5 seasons of pride line releases, and continues to donate this year to projects such as Ali Forney, It Gets Better, and Out MetroWest.
Vans has one of the best social outreach programs and lines that support LGBTQ+ and other minority group people. For pride month in 2021, Vans released the “Together As Ourselves” project, a celebration of artistry and free expression in the LGBTQ+ community. Their project not only highlights queer artists, but also their stories and the freedom of living in the moment. Not only is the line of clothing released for pride month tasteful, but it’s not just limited to these items. Outside of Pride Month, Vans has Foot The Bill, which creates merchandise featuring woman, minority, and queer owned small businesses and donates the profits directly to the business.
Disney has released their own Pride collection for 2021, and is donating to multiple LGBTQ+ organizations around the world. Not only is Disney attempting to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people around the world, but also the lives of their workers through inclusion and diversity initiatives. However, we can all agree that we need more LGBTQ+ diversity in Disney productions.
This year, Levi’s “All Pronouns All Love” project and collection is focusing on pronouns and identity. Over the past few years, Levi’s has formed a connection with OutRight Action International, an organization that fights for LGBTQ+ rights all over the world. Levi’s has also announced that they plan to donate 100% of the net proceeds to this organization.
MeUndies has released three prints for Pride Month, the classic rainbow flag, the trans pride flag, and the bisexual pride flag. While many are asking for more representation with their prints, the brand hopes to expand next year. This year, however, MeUndies has committed to donating $75,000 to the Los Angeles LGBT Center through their MeUndies Gives initiative. Throughout the year however, MeUndies features LGBTQ+ couples in their social media posts, including trans and gender non-conforming folks.
Although the donations and initiatives made by these large corporations may be seen as “inspiring” or “a step in the right direction”, nothing is more meaningful than doing work to support the community yourself. Buying from these corporations during Pride Month under the notion that it’s for the benefit of the community creates slacktivism. It’s empty support. We’re buying these products and maybe some of our money is getting donated to nonprofits, but LGBTQ+ people still need help.
Instead of buying from large corporations that promise to donate what you spend, buy from local and/or queer owned businesses or individual artists. A $50 purchase to a small business, especially after the events of the past year, can make all the difference. When you shop from small businesses, you receive a piece of that person and that business, and you give support.
The commercialization of Pride has made it unaffordable for much of the community. Pride started off as a protest, and now because of the sacrifices of the community members that came before us, we celebrate it as a party to honor the whole point of all of this: having Pride in who you are. And our pride shouldn’t be for sale.
Haven is a developing virtual pride center aimed at providing young LGBTQ+ people with a community at their fingertips. The founders of Haven come from a place of love, understanding, and commitment. Haven is a community founded by young LGBTQ+ people for LGBTQ+ people. Checkout our website, havenvpc.org, and follow us on Instagram @haven.vpc for updates on our journey.
Haven is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. You can email us at email@example.com.