Why You Shouldn't Support Corporations During Pride Month

June is Pride Month. This means love, marches and rainbow patterned sneakers...right?

When you look at the origins of Pride-the Stonewall Riots-and what Pride has become now-a music festival?- it’s clear that we have lost sight of what Pride is all about. It’s a celebration of being yourself, yes, but more specifically, it’s a celebration of being part of the LGBT community and of LGBT history. Now, it has become so commercialized that everyone wants to be a part of it for an excuse to wear rainbow attire and sing along to Ariana Grande. Looking cute is not the point of Pride.

It’s not like it’s a bad thing that big companies like Topshop and Nike show public support for the LGBT community. It’s important that all genders and sexualities are normalized and celebrated. The problem is that companies often don’t do anything else to support the community. There’s no point in a company putting out a rainbow jacket once a year to prove that it’s progressive and woke if that’s all it does.

The general public’s acceptance of the LGBT community is growing. As a result, companies have an incentive to prove their support by putting out branded products. These are empty gestures if they aren’t backed up with more meaningful actions. Corporations only want to support the community enough to be praised and to profit off of them.

The commercialization of Pride has pulled the movement away from its political roots. Stonewall was a rejection of the failed peaceful protests before it and marked a major turning point in LGBT history. The participants of Stonewall made it much safer for members of the community to show their pride. Nowadays, Pride is not so much a protest as it is a parade. While it’s amazing that people can feel safe enough to celebrate so publicly, it’s important to keep in mind the incredible violence others had to face just a few decades ago. It seems insensitive to capitalize upon the bravery of those who paved the way for the LGBT youth of today.

Commodifying Pride makes it much easier for people to feel good about themselves and their so-called activism. Buying a rainbow T-shirt from H&M in June and calling it activism is an insult to the history of Pride. This does nothing to help the LGBT community. Even if corporations donate a portion of their profits to charities, how much difference does this really make? It’s better than nothing, I suppose. However, consumers could just donate to these charities directly, instead of giving half their money to a huge corporation that doesn’t really need it. Maybe wearing rainbow merch raises awareness for the cause. But awareness isn’t good enough anymore. At this point, most people are “aware” that supporting LGBT rights is important. Do they actually do anything, though? Probably not.

There are still huge issues in the LGBT community. Transgender youth attempt suicide at alarming rates. Up to 40% of the homeless youth identify as part of the LGBT community. It’s hard to even know what problems to address, let alone how to address them. Faced with all these issues, it’s natural to be overwhelmed. The rainbows in store windows offer an easy way to feel less helpless. But the commercialization of Pride isn’t doing anything tangible to help solve these problems. Instead of giving money to corporations, consider donating to GoFundMes for LGBT youth, or to charities directly. Topshop doesn’t need your support. LGBT people do.