I probably don’t need to tell you this though, you’ve probably had it in your calendars since January, if not since last Pride. You’ve got your rainbow flags sat in storage ready to adorn the float you plan to place on the Pride parade, you’ve got your hashtags at the ready, posts scheduled, and maybe a few rainbow themed products already on the shelves of your local supermarket. You are ready to celebrate Pride!
But, as always, you’ve forgotten one important thing; the meaning behind Pride.
Gay Pride is a Protest.
It commemorates the Stonewall Riots back in the late 1960’s; where members of the LGBTQ community stood up against a Police raid that occurred at the Stonewall Inn, New York. It’s for members of the LGBTQ community to stand up against inequality and be ‘proud’ of who they are. For some, it’s their first (and maybe only) opportunity to be who they really are – to family, friends, colleagues. There is no ‘straight Pride’ because every day is straight Pride.
We’ve come a long way in the forms of being accepted, so in one respect we appreciate the sentiment and appreciate you celebrating this with us, however we soon see through it if the rest of the year you’re no where to be seen. There is a very fine line between jumping on the Pride bandwagon and creating a genuine and meaningful campaign, and more often than not, especially during Pride season, it’s the former. It’s disgraceful and, quite frankly; insulting. You’re using us and getting an amazing exchange rate on that Pink Pound.
With all the money you’re making from your rainbow themed tat, are you donating proceeds to an LGBT+ charity? There are tons; Diversity Role Models, RU Coming Out, Stonewall, The Albert Kennedy Trust, to name a few. What does your diversity policy look like? Do you have any LGBT+ discrimination policies? Can I find your products on sale in anti-LGBT countries where being Gay (or suspected of being Gay) can result in torture or punishment?
Learn from others
In fact, you should take a few notes from several companies who have done it right for the LGBTQ community. For example, Levi’s, Nike, Skittles, and Doritos have all donated their Pride campaign proceeds to LGBTQ charities during Pride season, and Gap, IKEA, Tiffany & Co, and Target have all featured gay couples and families in their advertising outside of Pride season.
Skittles UK’s rainbowless packs are back with each pack raising money for @switchboardLGBT – the LGBT+ Helpline.
There are also huge companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple that have amazing equality policies for their employees according to the 2017 Human Rights Campaign Foundation. More recently, for the 2018 World Cup, Paddy Power, one of the big names of betting, pledged to donate £10,000 to LGBT charities for every score made by Russia during the tournament. This is because Russia has an appalling attitude towards the LGBT community. Not only this, but when negative comments started arriving shortly after, they stood up and addressed those too!
If as a business all you can offer is free rainbow themed merchandise and a banging tune on a float then you have some serious work to do. We see through it, and it’s pissing us off. A quick Google, like I usually do when get ‘offered’ a number of Pride themed promotions via email, will show folks just how ‘Gay Friendly’ you really are. Here’s a few tips; offer and promote discussion, stand up for your employees, be a voice for the LGBTQ community.
By all means slap on the glitter and join in on the party, but put your money where your mouth is and give us something worth buying into – all year round.