4 min read

How to Avoid Pink-Washing by Corporations Capitalizing off of 2SLGBTQ+ Pride Celebrations this June

Everything you value, you've been taught to value. It's time to question what you may have never questioned and re-direct where you spend your money.
How to Avoid Pink-Washing by Corporations Capitalizing off of 2SLGBTQ+ Pride Celebrations this June
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Flying the Pride flag during Pride month (June in Canada) and then taking it down is a sure sign a business doesn’t value human dignity and 2SLGBTQ+ lives — they only value capitalizing on Pride to increase profits.

You have the power to demand inclusion, dignity, and respect 365 days a year because you can take your purchasing power elsewhere.

But don’t sit in silence with your decision to support 2SLGBTQ+ businesses or allies. Could you tell people you know about those businesses, service providers, and the companies you support who support you every day? These businesses should support you so much that they don’t need to fly the pride flag in their window or on their website, but they do it anyway.

Businesses that care about 2SLGBTQ+ lives do so every single day of the year, and proudly.

Buck the corporate trend and support local businesses.

Consider supporting your independent bookseller, hairstylist, craft shop, restaurant, small-batch brewery, furniture shop, or the fruit and vegetable shops that exist in your neighbourhood.

Take a stroll around where you live. What shops and businesses have you never gone into? Which ones have a Pride or some form of inclusive flag decal in their window? If you live in the suburbs, go to the nearest town and become acquainted with your local options.

Screw the chains! Chains keep you bound to someone else’s control.

Small businesses might charge a little more because they can’t sell by volume. They also stock items the big box stores don’t carry. Often a small store might stock another local supplier or artist who wouldn’t get paid if it wasn’t for the store’s existence.

The existential queer question is, who do you want living and working in your neighbourhood who supports you as a human being?

Let me tell you a story about the health food store in my neighbourhood.

“You sustain us!”

One day after work, I had to pick up a couple of items at my local, independent health food store, the store I’ve been consistently shopping at since 1997. Over the years, ownership and management has changed, but it’s always been welcoming, and many of the staff have worked there for years.

Long story short, I didn’t have enough to pay for the four items I brought to the counter. We removed one, and I was about $2 short.

“How much do you have?”, the friendly associate asked.

“Just $55”, I said.

“Don’t worry about it then. Can I just charge you $55? You’re always here and have been coming for years”, she said.

I offered to take away one more item so I could pay the sticker price, as I was happy to do so, and didn’t want them to lose money. But she insisted and I thanked her, so appreciative of her kindness and the thoughtful recognition that I do shop there weekly.

After paying, and putting the items in my bag, I thanked her again and turned to leave.

“Here! Take the other bar of chocolate”, she said with a smile. “You sustain us.”

Your money has the power to change lives and influence the market.

Invest it wisely in individuals and businesses that respect who you are — without you having to demand it.

In other words, allow those small businesses to earn your business as a reward for their respect, understanding, and inclusion. The only way we can collectively impact big corporations that manipulate 2SLGBTQ+ consumers by pink-washing during Pride month — only to turn around and fund evangelical right-wing politicians who are anti-2SLGBTQ+ — is to dissolve their influence where it hurts most: their profit margins.

Queer Liberation Is Not Rainbow Capitalism.

We have been taught the social value of capitalism. The best ways for us to queer capitalism include,

  1. Shop locally.
  2. Minimize or completely stop shopping at businesses that have funded any anti-2SLGBTQ+ initiative or politician in the last two years. Do your research to find out who these businesses are and share that list on social media. Share the proof and make it easy for others to make better shopping choices.
  3. Shop and invest in businesses that proudly serve 2SLGBTQ+ people every day of the year.

If we ever have hope of reducing obscene profit margins that lead to obscene power and control over society, we have to collectively change our values about how and where we spend our money.

If you give your money to corporations that disapprove of your humanity, you are part of the problem.

If you want to be part of the solution, one of your values needs to be:

Supporting businesses that actively support 2SLGBTQ+ dignity, inclusion, and rights.

Who are the local businesses you support because they accept and welcome you?

Let me know in the comments. Let’s create that accountability list right here!

For a brilliant thought piece about this issue, read Fabrice Houdart’s article.

“[U]ltimately, brands are free to support Pride or not, and consumers are free not to buy from companies that don’t match their values. Pride is not state-enforced, as “The Federalist” suggested this week in a ridiculous article titled “Pride Month Is A Cynical Exercise In State-Enforced Homosexuality,” which sounds a lot like […] “Christmas is a cynical exercise in state-enforced Christianity,” or “Memorial Day is a cynical exercise in state-enforced militarism.”
The artificial corporate “lavender scare” of Pride 2023
Between calls for boycotts of Budweiser, Target, and now North Face by fringe far-right voices and drag laws, Fox News, the NYPost, and Matt Walsh would have us believe a massive withdrawal of support from corporations is to be expected this Pride season.