ForumTouchy Subjects ► Rainbow Capitalism

It's Pride!


Which means it's time for faceless megacorps to put rainbows on everything! How do you feel about the corporate commoditization of Pride? Do you think it's a sign of progress, or is it corporate pandering? Can they be real allies, or are they just exploiting a market?
  
I mean corpos are only ever gonna care about money. It's why they exist. It's technically a step towards equality if they're exploiting LGBTQ+ folks same as everyone else.
  
It's funny to me how many different versions of this conversation I've had in the past 4-5 years. So many queer folks are happy to have representation from big companies like Disney and target, and we will happily wear the more inclusive merch to show that these are steps in the right direction, but we also know that we must be critical of the lack of support before. The conversation in a queer space is so much more comfortable than in mixed spaces, imo. This conversation got brought up at my pride ERG (employee resource group: internal clubs for minorities/disabled folks/veterans/etc and allies, usually) and one of the straight folks said "yeah I hate rainbow capitalism too, I wish they'd stop shoving it in everyone's faces" which is a statement we often hear in other contexts, so our group got kinda quiet. Now there may have been a valid complaint there from an ally about how this acceptance is capitalist approved now, and the merch is terrible sometimes and not thoughtful of the community, or perhaps still made with slave labor and produced en masse. Any of those things may be what she meant, but I'm not sure and I won't be. There's a lot of nuance to the conversation which makes this a good touchy subjects thread.

I would like to bring up the ERG thing in here too. Internally my work fucked up the creative aspects of pride month and our team was really upset but it made us realize how much this visibility in a corporate space might be able to help over the long term. I want it to just be normalized by the merch and the Corp acceptance and these ERGs or whatever else it takes for these people to at least keep their opinions to themselves . ERGs often have a goal of educating as a targeted diversity training substitute so I'm the lead on a lot of that this month for pride. Happy to elaborate how the internal aspects work for this stuff if anyone is curious.
  
Sometimes I find it a little obnoxious, other times I just really want the rainbow granola bar, tbh.

It's like Valentine's Day. Do I hate the overly commercialized manner in which the holiday currently exists? yes. do I also want some chocolates on February 14th? ....also yes.
  
Me too.
  
Every year I think "oh, it's not that bad." Then I see something like this and remember why I hate it so much.

eriophora said:
Sometimes I find it a little obnoxious, other times I just really want the rainbow granola bar, tbh.

It's like Valentine's Day. Do I hate the overly commercialized manner in which the holiday currently exists? yes. do I also want some chocolates on February 14th? ....also yes.

At the same time, I can't pretend I don't get suckered into buying rainbow shit every June.
  
Walmart had some terrible merch on an end cap this year with a misprint of "love is love" on a beer koozie where it didn't have room for all the letters on each line so it ended up as "love is lo/ve is love/ love is l/..."

And yet I still bought a rainbow bead and bandana set off the same end cap cuz they were like 3 bucks.
  
It's a sign of progress and corporate pandering. They are exploiting a market. Are they real allies? Depends on the company. Probably not.

I think it's a good sign that it is now fashionable and politically correct to be pro-Pride. The reason they do this is for capitalism purposes, but that's what companies do. It's gross in the way that capitalism is gross, with the added grossness of most or many of these companies still having shitty anti-LGBTQIA+ policies and activities.
  
If it wasn't for the internet, I wouldn't know it was Pride month. I haven't seen any manifestation of it, all I've seen is"Happy Pride" from enthusiasts online. Got my groceries this week and didn't notice any rainbows.

Social/political agendas in the workplace are dangerous things. A group of people who spend a lot of time in a certain niche outside work assume everyone in their work inhabits the same niche, and get shocked and upset when it turns out they don't. It can lead to division about topics unrelated to work. Suddenly colleagues that previously got on are now bearing grudges against each other.

On the one hand you can complain about tacky rainbow merchandise and corporate hijacking, but on the other hand how would Pride Month even manifest without tacky rainbow merchandise and corporate hijacking? I assume there's supposed to be something more to it than the aforementioned online greeting. Is there an authentic Pride Month that used to exist?
  
Imagine being so lazy you couldn't Google "pride month" before asking if there's a valid reason for its existence. Geez.
  
That link doesn't really answer the question. I suppose the marches are non-corporate, provided they're not heavily sponsored.

If we're just going to tell everyone to google everything, then we might as well not have discussions. I don't think the bulk of my post was googleable. If activists are going to put something out there, then call people lazy when they inquire about it, then they're not very good activists.

To elaborate: If it's a bad thing that corporations have hijacked Pride Month, what does the preferred non-corporate Pride Month look like?
  
There's the phrase "the first Pride was a riot" (referencing Stonewall). In the following years (the 70's), people in a bunch of cities started doing gay/queer focused marches in June, to commemorate the event. They weren't called Pride yet, but rather things like "Liberation Day" or "Gay Freedom Day," and the corporations certainly weren't falling over themselves to participate. According to sources I've read, the mood was more defiance than celebration, with chants like "Revolution now!" and "Gay Power!" (echoes of the contemporary "Black Power" slogan).

In the 80's, the people organizing these made a conscious decision to shift the messaging into the less-scary "Pride" theming, which is a trend that has continued. The Prides I've attended have been more of a street festival, with everyone from alcohol companies to banks to cops trying to give out free gay merchandise.

Edit to add:
Pride wasn't a month until more recently, probably starting with Bill Clinton in 1999 declaring June to be "Gay & Lesbian month." Until then, it was the march itself that was Pride.
  
Yeah I'm familiar with Gay Pride parades, they existed long before Pride Month. I went to a couple and they were like adult Christmas Parades, you stand around in the street drinking and watch people walk past in different costumes and floats. If they are self-organsied and funded, then I suppose they're "authentic" or whatever. At what point do they become too corporate?
  
Vorp-Fwip explained it way better.
  
I knew Gay Pride marches had been going for decades, but I didn't associate them with June or a Month. I'm guessing June is Pride Month in the US, and LGBTQIA+ groups in other countries are falling in line with the US observance. In some places Pride Parades happen in different months, February, May and August being popular, maybe that's a source of confusion to an international/online audience.
  
You know what would be fun, if the companies who say they support LGBTQ+ peeps actually did. And not just in June, but year round.
  
I suppose the problem for corporations is what should they do to support the LGBTQIA+ community outside Pride Month? They could donate to charities (and constantly tell us, of course!), but there's any number of causes they could be donating to. Corporations aren't there to "help" any group or cause, they will only support causes if they think they'll get a pat on the head from consumers.
  
a lot of the time, these rainbow-logo corporations still actively donate to anti-lgbt political efforts (disney's support of the "don't say gay" bill comes to mind), and also buy out floats at pride parades just to advertise to parade-goers (comcast and banks like to do this a lot). it turns a celebration of an identity that is very much still dangerous to openly express in many places into another advertising venue, takes parade space away from actual gay people who want to create floats for their own visibility, and uses gay people's money to support anti-gay legislation. seems hypocritical.

in my opinion, the best thing for gay people that the corporations could do (aside from shutting down completely) is: don't support homophobic/transphobic political agendas and don't use the places for marginalized people to celebrate themselves as an advertising opportunity. to be honest i don't really care if they actively monetarily support lgbt charities or not, but don't use the money from gay people to take away their rights and their spaces of visibility.
  
Millpond said:
I suppose the problem for corporations is what should they do to support the LGBTQIA+ community outside Pride Month?

Start by not actively undermining the community and interests of queer people. Start by getting to neutral. Lots of corporations are actively harmful.
  
Millpond said:
Corporations aren't there to "help" any group or cause.


I always see people talk about corporations this way, in that oh, they're just there to make shareholders happy, they just have to make money, etc.

But I feel like that's an inherently flawed assumption. There's absolutely no reason we can't expect our corporations to have a baseline standard of morality. This starts by firstly not financially supporting bigoted institutions (which the comments above mine have already covered). From there, it's reasonable to say that perhaps they ought to give back to the communities they profit from as well. Almost all corporations do some type of charitable work, so it's not such a stretch that we should want them to choose good charities and do more to support the communities that they are a part of.

This is especially true if they're using Pride month to market themselves. If you're going to actively brand yourself as being pro-queer, you should actually live up to that ideal in practice. Put your money where your mouth is, etc. You've profited from Pride, now give back and support the community that is supporting your existence.
  
My understanding is that prior to some point in the 1800's, most corporations were understood to be formed to operate as a public good. The structure originated in Europe and predates American colonization, but I don't know much about the European history.

Originally, states (in America) only granted corporate status sparingly, for projects that were too large to be accomplished efficiently by individual actors. For example, railroads, banks, or some manufacturing companies. These charters had to be approved by the state legislature (and I believe in some cases were primarily drafted by the state), which laid out the structure and goals of the the corporation. These were often granted for a limited time, and could be revoked if the corporation was found to be in violation of the charter.

Here are two sources that helped me put this post together, an article from a law journal and an essay from a sustainability institute.
  
I use "corporation" interchangeably with "big company", I didn't know there was any kind of legal distinction. If there is, it's probably a distraction to argue about the obligations of corporations vs companies, unless the ones getting involved in Pride are one or the other.

Having looked it up, "corporation" is a status bestowed by the government or monarch, so yes I agree that in that case the government/monarch can and should impose some sort of obligation to give something back, otherwise what's even the point. Presumably being a "corporation" gives you something more than being a "company", and if its the government giving them that, it should be a two-way deal.
  
It is extremely easy to become a corporation. I've been thinking about doing it for my freelancing work because it makes taxes simpler. It costs a few hundred dollars and is a few forms to fill out. Essentially every business you'd think of as a "company" is absolutely also a corporation. They're functionally more or less the same thing, at least within the scope of this conversation, since anyone so small they're not incorporated is probably not large enough that we're all that worried about them when it comes to this stuff.
  
I agree in principle that if the status of "corporation" is a benefit granted by the government, then the government should require a benefit back. The problem then becomes exactly what that is and to whom. In this case the LGBTQIA+ community would like it to be to them, but there's any number of special interest causes corporations could be helping.

Regarding the point that some corporations give money to anti-LGBTQIA+ causes and the only request is for that to stop: I don't think this is common knowledge outside LGBTQIA+ circles, the only one I heard of was the Chick-Fil-A one. I googled this article which listed 25 (US) corporations which donated money to (US) political candidates defined as anti-LGBTQIA+, only to rainbow-wash themselves when it was Pride Month.

I assume they donated to these candidates for their economic stances and their anti-LGBTQIA+ stances were incidental. But it shows they care about money first. If it were up to me, I'd ban political donations altogether, make politicians exclusively tax-funded. But there's no way to stop that sort of online rainbow-washing other than to call them out and embarrass them in the comments.

One concrete way to stop them would be for local organisers to ban them from involvement in Pride marches. Pride marches have gone the same way as Youtube, from initially revolutionary DIY platforms to more advertising space. The finger needs to be pointed at local organisers too, because if corporations are hijacking Pride marches, they're letting them. Crowd-funding is a good idea.
  
eriophora said:
It is extremely easy to become a corporation. I've been thinking about doing it for my freelancing work because it makes taxes simpler. It costs a few hundred dollars and is a few forms to fill out. Essentially every business you'd think of as a "company" is absolutely also a corporation. They're functionally more or less the same thing, at least within the scope of this conversation, since anyone so small they're not incorporated is probably not large enough that we're all that worried about them when it comes to this stuff.

Yeah. Like we're incorporated. Helps with liability and stuff. Protects assets.
  
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