Every June, companies big and small roll out the rainbow carpet to celebrate Pride Month. Since the Stonewall Riots of June 1969, which are often considered the birth of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement, Pride has become an international celebration, with parades and festivals commemorating progress towards equality for LGBTQ+ people. Like many other holidays, companies have been quick to jump on Pride Month as an opportune time to change their logos, packaging, or messaging to spread the word that “Love is love.”
On the surface, this trend seems like a positive development. As more companies continue to advocate for Pride by walking in parades and spreading information about the equality movement, it normalizes LGBTQ+ identities and can help highlight the oppressions that LGBTQ+ people still face in the United States.
However, posting on social media once or pasting a rainbow on your product is performative, and performative allyship is not enough anymore. You may be wondering, “How can I be an authentic ally when talking about Pride?”
Here are 3 key factors you must consider when developing Pride messaging:
Do I know my history?
All too often, companies take to social media to post about Pride without having a proper understanding of what Pride is or how it came to be. The LGBTQ+ movement that we know today grew out of a resistance led by LGBTQ+ people of color, specifically Black transgender women. It is important to acknowledge and honor the communities that fought for the rights LGBTQ+ people have today. Take the time to research the movement you are posting about. Relaying the wrong information can sometimes be worse than saying nothing at all.
Am I being inclusive in my language?
Pride Month belongs to the entire LGBTQ+ community. Therefore, it’s extremely important to be inclusive when talking about Pride. Commonly, I will hear people use the word “gay” in place of “LGBTQ+,” which can be offensive to people who do not identify as gay but are a part of the community.
In this conversation, it is also important to highlight the word “queer.” In the past, queer has been considered a derogatory term. However, younger people in the LGBTQ+ community have begun to reclaim it and commonly use it to identify as an LGBTQ+ person. I, personally, identify as a gay man. Yet, I also identify as queer. It is essential to acknowledge that just because some people use queer as an identifier, that does not mean that everyone is comfortable with the term. Therefore, LGBTQ+ is a safer term to use in messaging, even if you do see queer populating your social media feeds.
Am I supporting the community?
If you are developing Pride messaging for your social media platforms or using Pride to promote your products, you must also support the community in some other capacity. Pride Month is an opportunity for LGBTQ+ people to celebrate their identities. Commodifying that identity to benefit your business is offensive if you do not intend to give back to the community.
This Pride Month I have seen countless brands that are doing a great job advocating for Pride while also promoting their products. For example, ASOS, a clothing brand, joined forces with Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) to create a Pride-themed fashion collection. Additionally, ASOS has committed to donating 100% of the net profits from the collection to GLAAD’s initiatives.
However, if you are not a product-based business like ASOS, there are countless other ways you can support the Pride movement.
Lead by example by donating to LGBTQ+ organizations and advocacy groups like the Human Rights Campaign, The Trevor Project, or the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, to name a few. Initiate conversations about diversity in the office, with friends, and with family. Seek out information about this community through documentaries (“Paris is Burning,” “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson”), shows (“Pose,” “We’re Here”) and movies (“Boy Erased,” “Love, Simon”) to learn about the LGBTQ+ experience.
Above all, be sincere. The LGBTQ+ community is founded on the belief that everyone should have the right to live and love freely. As long as you lead with those principles in mind, with intent to honor the community and to amplify the voices of the marginalized, I’m sure your Pride messaging will be well-received and appreciated by LGBTQ+ people alike.
For an extended list of companies that support and donate to Pride, look here: