The corporate backlash to Pride proves that rainbow washing won’t save LGBT people

The corporate backlash to Pride proves that rainbow washing won’t save LGBT people

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Last week, Oxfam International removed a cartoon video they posted on Twitter to mark Pride month after backlash against the use of the term “in video”.Fantastic” (radical trans-exclusive feminist) in an image depicting anti-trans hate groups. The charity eventually published an edited version without the word, he apologized for the “offense he caused” and said he had “made a mistake.”

Just a few days earlier, the British Library was attacked by anti-trans trolls for his Pride month Twitter thread about a fish that can change its sex. The library post received such a torrent of anti-LGBTQ+ responses that they ended up removing it entirely.

Unfortunately, these two organizations are just the latest examples of what is becoming an alarmingly long list of brands apparently being bullied for supporting Pride.

For nearly a decade, June has been an open goal for organizations to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community. All companies had to do to appear progressive was paint a rainbow on their logo, drop some Pride merchandise, march in a parade, and maybe even go so far as to donate money to LGBTQ+ causes. It was an easy win (particularly if you ignored the criticism of rainbow capitalism, where companies profit financially and socially by commercializing the queer community).

However, more and more companies are facing fierce backlash from the right to their Pride promotions. outbreak of light sparked a boycott after teaming up with Dylan Mulvaney, a trans influencer, for a campaign that has seen the company suffer seven straight weeks of declining sales. Meanwhile, the American clothing store Aim decided to remove some of its Pride-themed products after a month-long campaign by anti-LGBTQ+ activists that included harassing its employees.

When companies cave to these fanatics, they not only send a clear message to the queer community that they don’t support us, but they also encourage these mobs to attack other organizations.

So what changed to make Pride so controversial for brands?

To answer that question we have to go back to 2014. Conservatives in the US realized they were losing the fight against same-sex marriage. They needed a new target to rally their base and dictate the national conversation. Quickly, they decided to make trans people a wedge issue. He strategy it was simple: “separate the ‘T’ from the alphabet soup”. Slowly but surely, debates over toilet access spilled over into medicine, sports, schools, and now Pride.

However, what started in the United States did not take hold until 2018, when Theresa May opened a public consultation on reform of the Gender Recognition Law of 2004. This is the legislation that regulates how trans people can obtain legal recognition of their gender identity.

By inviting the public to weigh in on trans rights, the consultation opened the floodgates to an unprecedented outpouring of anti-trans opposition in the press, Parliament and online, and was the catalyst for the current wave of transphobia. A 2019 study found that the British press wrote more than 6,000 articles on trans people between 2018-19many of them written “to be critical of trans people” and painted “trans people as unreasonable and aggressive”.

The situation is now so dire that a An independent expert He recently said he was “deeply concerned” by growing anti-LGBTQ+ hate in the UK fueled by the “toxic nature of the public debate around sexual orientation and gender identity”.

It is within this context that it becomes easier to make sense of the growing furore about brands that support Pride, particularly those that focus trans voices and experiences right-wing activists they have admitted their plan is to make Pride messaging so culturally toxic that no company dares take a chance on it unless it has a “market death wish.” If companies are so afraid of becoming the next Oxfam or Bud Light, they may not even bother celebrating Pride.

The speed at which some (but not all) organizations have capitulated to bigotry is not only shocking, but also reveals the fragility of corporate support. Although most people want to see LGBTQ+ people in advertising, the reaction from brands this year reveals the limits of rainbow capitalism. Many companies were happy to endorse Pride and be “allies” when LGBTQ+ rights were apparently all the rage and an easy way to make more money (albeit only in the Global North, as they kept quiet about Pride in countries with anti-LGBTQ+ laws). ). ). But now, faced with an emboldened anti-LGBTQ+ movement, companies are wondering if standing up for human rights will hurt their profit margin.

What is scary is that the LGBTQ+ community is being left behind at a time of growing hostility and pushback against our rights globally. The UK has seen a massive increase in hate crimes committed against LGBTQ+ people in the past year. Meanwhile, the largest LGBTQ+ organization in the US recently declared a state of emergency for the first time after 75 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been signed into law so far this year.

Pride’s corporate retreat makes clear what many of us in the queer community have always known to be true. Rainbow logos won’t save us. Our liberation depends on us fighting together as a community until we are all free.

Jeffrey Ingold is a freelance journalist who writes about LGBTQ+ culture and issues.


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