By Caitlin McMahon
Image via Twitter
With Pride month coming to a close, it’s important to remember that Pride isn’t just about saying “love is love” every June. While it is important to celebrate our identities, we must remember that slapping a rainbow on for the month isn’t allyship: it’s marketing. Rainbow capitalism, also known as rainbow-washing, pink capitalism or pink-washing, is when a company changes logos/puts out marketing during June to suggest LGBTQ+ allyship while putting in no real effort to support queer people year round.
It may seem like this isn’t really too much of a big deal: they’re just companies you can ignore, right? It becomes harder when said companies actively donate to anti-LGBTQ+ organizations and politicians. Many companies will just edit their logo to be a rainbow and call it a day. For example, AT&T has their &T Live Proud” campaign, yet donated $2.7 million to 193 anti-gay and anti-trans politicians from 2017 to 2018. Another example is Xfinity, who heavily marketed their pride campaign yet donated $2.1 million to 154 anti-LGBTQ+ politicians. This gives us a better idea of what companies actually care about, money and endorsement. Putting a rainbow over your logo doesn’t take away the fact that there’s been no real effort to support lgbtq+ people.
Image via Texas A&M TODAY
The way companies have turned Pride as a way to profit has really changed the way people look at allyship. Now, people see it as an aesthetic and think that saying “love is love” once a year is the pinnacle of allyship. And while this is appreciated, empty statements and no actions behind them can feel performative. With an exponential rise in violence and legislation against lgbtq+ people – especially against trans people – in 2022 so far it is important to show real support toward lgbtq+ people. A lot of allyship to cishet people is designed to be comfortable and controversial enough to “please both sides”. But we aren’t talking about favorite sports or ice cream flavors: we’re talking about people's fundamental rights, so maybe rethink your definition of what an ally actually is. We need people (especially cishet people) to focus more on the fact queer people are in danger than the aesthetic of pride. It can (and does) save lives.
So while it is extremely important to celebrate everyone's identities, and it is great that we can do that, we have to remember that things are not perfect for queer people. There has been a record number of anti-trans and anti-lgbtq+ legislation this year. We know that things will get worse without everyone's help.
It tends to be easy for us to look past issues that don't directly affect us, and while it may seem harmless, when so many people think in this way, it really adds up. So yes, one person looking past someone saying something that’s maybe homophobic or transphobic may not cause a lot of harm, when everyone looks past it because said thing is either normalized or everyone else thinks there’s going to be another person that says something; no progress is made.
With all that being said, if you take anything out of this, let it be that queer people need your full and real support, actual actions taken, more than posting “love is love” on an Instagram story.
Written by writer Caitlin McMahon.