This weekend NYC will host World Pride as it recognizes the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots – a series of violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid that began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village. Every June, Pride serves as a reminder and a moment to celebrate how far LGBTQ+ equality has come and more significantly, how much further it must go. Over the last 15 years brands have dominated Pride and for the most part, corporate floats, merchandise, and advertising campaigns are not shifting tolerance, understanding or respect towards the LGTBQ+ community. Rather, as companies try to hijack or crowd Pride festivals, there is less room to take action and create meaningful dialogue around the needs of the community. Once the pot of gold at the end of this overly commercialized rainbow is empty, many brands and companies simply disappear – all but a few seem to genuinely (or ethically) have any interest in taking Pride with a Purpose.
This is the real shame because the LGBTQ+ community openly welcomes pioneers who stand-up for the culturally, economically and socially disadvantaged. In the meantime, this community continues split and spawn ‘alternative’ queer events such as The Queer Liberation March, where zero corporations and brands are welcomed.
Some brands have stepped up however and taken Pride in Purpose. Levi’s, Kind Bar, & Asos are among the few that are donating all profits from certain products toward LGBTQ+ rights/funding/research and change. They are donating to organizations such as Out Right Action, the Ali Forney Center, & GLAAD and focusing on LGBTQ+ issues including homeless youth, HIV prevention, and suicide. This is a step in the right direction, but brands could partner and do more to collaborate and help create the systemic change the queer community needs. We believe that business and brands could help shift some, if not all, of the problems the LGBTQ+ community faces.
Pride is a party; but it’s also a peaceful political protest. Stonewall occurred because the LGBTQ+ community were tired of being ostracized and oppressed. The reality is, many are still oppressed and still fed up. It’s time for companies to take a stand, create change and serve the community they wish to represent. Many of the so called ‘supportive’ campaigns are lazy nods to the community with a side eye staring directly at bank accounts. It’s #timetogetgrounded when profit exploits, demeans or commoditizes a community simply for commercial gain. Corporations — be Social Entrepreneurs and Take Pride with Purpose, or take none at all!