Rainbow tinted decorations, billboards with queer artists and LGBTQ+ sports personalities and the iconic pride flag — all shoved into the messy cupboards as the pride month came to an end on 30 June. Several MNCs and giant retail corporations monetised the pride month which, by the way, is all about equality and the fight against discrimination.
The celebration of LGBT+ people worldwide has been given a place in the calendar, but the remaining 11 months make the whole difference.
Multibillion-dollar companies redesign their logos to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community every year on the first day of June, which marks the beginning of pride month. The rainbow-inspired logos are flashed across social media, websites are revamped and “Love is Love” merchandise is stacked in the display windows, giving an idea that the brand loves and supports the queer community.
Even though it is widely appreciated, when looked deeply into this marketing gimmick employed by these brands, the concept of rainbow capitalism comes to light.
As a term, pride capitalism or rainbow capitalism describes how big corporates use certain symbols associated with the LGBTQ+ community to make profits without actually supporting key issues that queer people face. This culture promotes consumerism and undermines the bigger LGBTQ issues such as discrimination at the workplace, lack of opportunities, anti-LGBT legislation, and limited healthcare support.
Pride isn’t about buying or selling a commodity, but if one feels otherwise, several queer-owned small businesses could make use of that “pride money”.
As per the Popular Information study, huge U.S. corporations including AT&T, Walmart and CVS Health jumped on the pride bandwagon to “echo the demands” of the LGBT community. However, all of them have a history of donating to sponsors of anti-transgender legislation in Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Texas and Florida.
MNCs like Accenture, Johnson and Johnson, HUL might harp on their progress made in promoting an inclusive work environment for the LGBT people in India as per the India Workplace Quality Index 2020. But the parameter to evaluate inclusive policies and hiring practices in the corporate world can’t excuse these conglomerates from supporting pro-LGBT legislation that defines the community’s future.
The appeal to all corporates is as loud and clear as it can get. The allyship shouldn’t be restricted to June and social media posts. The LGBT community gets discriminated against 365 days of the year. Hence, the support from the corporate sector should help amplify serious issues such as banning conversion therapies and educating people about the community’s tribulations.
The ultimate fight is for a large-scale systemic change that constitutes policy changes, increased awareness about homosexuality and accepting people as they are.
The author is a proud member of the LGBT community and a fierce supporter of queer rights.