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Celebrating all things authentically queer and wishing all the rainbow-washing corporations a terrible day

Robyn Exton

Jun 28, 2023

Celebrating all things authentically queer and wishing all the rainbow-washing corporations a terrible day
  • Babe, your tacky performative allyship is showing again!

    You come to me… with rainbow-washing antics… during Pride month?!

    Big corporations and institutions love to cash in and out on the illusion of inclusion. Come June, and throughout Pride month, the world’s wealthiest companies plaster rainbows and LGBTQ+ symbols all over their storefronts, limited-edition product lines, social media accounts, and websites. 

    In turn, the media over-focuses on which big corporations and brands are blowing it during pride with classic rainbow-washing moves every year. And hey, I get it. Calling out fake allies and people hurting our community is important work, and I’m not one to shy away from that (just ask the TERFs). 

    But this cycle is making it so that Pride is slowly becoming about corporate tragedy porn, not celebrating our community. And that raises an important question: Why is our community stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of getting the most coverage when something goes wrong? 

    Queer wins exist. Queer joy is everywhere. Queer businesses are carving out a space in over-saturated markets. Queer love will continue to win. 

    The resilience of our community shines when we spotlight and celebrate our triumphs

    The mainstream media’s destructive and repetitive focus on our struggles has an entirely different impact on our community than if they were to prioritize highlighting our progress, wins, and commitment to building better and more inclusive futures.

    So, this month and onward, I’m asking the media, the brands, the people, and the allies to join me in working to break free from the negative narratives. 

    Get ready for an exhilarating shift of focus! It’s time to ignite our celebration and shine a dazzling spotlight on the queer companies and brands that deserve nothing short of greatness. 

    We’re breaking free from the popular negative narrative, opening our arms wide to embrace the vibrant and inspiring tales of these exceptional queer brands, founders, and spaces. 

    We can and will create a magnetic symphony of queer joy, queer love, and real queer pride by coming together!

    Big corporations are choking us out during Pride

    HER, our first-of-its-kind dating app, has been making waves since 2012, giving us a front-row seat to the incredible evolution of running this business.

    However, one thing we’ve come to realize is just how expensive it is for us to create campaigns and events for our own community during Pride. 

    It’s like the “straight” brands have an unlimited budget, throwing money at ads, influencers, and event venues like there’s no tomorrow. Every year, it seems to get worse as they scramble to buy their way into the community, using Pride Month ads to score some goodwill and keep up with the trends.

    But let me ask you: who suffers the most from this glittery chaos? It’s the businesses and community groups that genuinely need to connect with queer people. Suddenly, hiring queer influencers or sponsoring events at lesbian bars becomes a far-fetched dream that’s just too out of budget for us. 

    Now, I’m not against corporate support of the LGBTQ+ community. Our community is so big, diverse, and rich that it’s highly important that businesses show a willingness to invest in creating authentically safe spaces of work for us all. But that doesn’t come from a June dump of money. It comes from authentic conversation, a willingness to change and become more educated — and to do so with care and respect for our community all year round. Not just when it’s profitable.

    And I don’t blame the bars and influencers for snagging those big fat brand deals, either. I get it. But here’s the sad truth—rainbow-washing and pinkwashing literally cost smaller groups & brands money, forcing us to take a backseat during Pride. And let me tell you, it stings. 

    It’s disheartening to come face-to-face with this reality, not just for us but for countless other queer companies out there. This burden should never be ours to bear, especially not during the time meant to celebrate and uplift our community — Pride.

    No matter how small, every queer-owned brand and org deserves an equal opportunity to shine and thrive. We shouldn’t be overshadowed by big corporations that only pay lip service to LGBTQIA+ support while failing to show up for us on the ground.

    So let’s challenge the status quo. Let’s create a world where LGBTQIA-owned businesses can rise above the noise and claim their rightful place in the spotlight. Whether you’re a queer-owned business or a passionate ally, it’s time to stand together, amplifying the voices and successes of these incredible brands.

    Queer joy will always win!

    Every year, our community and allies see right through the rainbow-washers. And then, like clockwork, the media picks up the same stories they’ve been writing for years about the same corporations that have been doing this for years. And then Pride month ends. And all we did was give even more attention, free press, and exposure to the people who deserve it least: the corporations. 

    But what would happen if we pushed for a change? What if we focused less on covering the gargantuan (please let me have my Tom Wambsgans moment) money-hungry corporations of the world and placed our energy toward highlighting local, Queer businesses instead?

    Together, we can make a difference. We can end the queer tragedy tales while still bringing attention to the harmful laws, bills, and movements aiming to hurt our community by making sure we’re telling twice as many stories showcasing queer wins.

    Robyn Exton

    Robyn is the CEO & Founder of HER. Find her on Twitter.

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