The Rainbow Washing Trap: How to Spot Authentic Pride Support 

While the pride parades and festivities are fun, it is vital to remember the larger reason behind them. Pride is about promoting queer voices, sharing our stories, and making society more welcoming for people with diverse identities and expressions.

Many companies today want to express their support for Pride. And that is nothing short of wonderful. Having corporate friends can make a significant difference in promoting LGBTQ+ equity and acceptance. The problem arises when firms become involved for the wrong reasons.

Rainbow washing occurs when businesses benefit on Pride without actually supporting the LGBTQ+ community year-round. Perhaps their heart is in the right place, but good intentions do not always equate to genuine allyship. It may come across as just another marketing tactic.

So how can you separate the real allies from the fair-weather ones? Here are some clear signs a company is doing Pride right: 

1. Contributions go to LGBTQIA+ causes.

When brands sell Pride merchandise or items, ideally, 100% of the proceeds should go to LGBTQ+ nonprofits, charities, and grassroots organisations. These organisations are performing invaluable work, and financial support is essential. If not entirely, a sizable amount of income should be directed towards charitable causes that directly benefit and enhance our community.

2. Deep Community Involvement 

True allies don’t begin their Pride campaigns in an empty space. LGBTQIA+ individuals should lead and participate at every stage of the process, from initial creative concept and product design to marketing, promotion, and execution. We must center and promote our individual voices, stories, and opinions.

3. Year-Round Commitment 

Pride solidarity cannot be limited only to the month of June. Companies should make a consistent commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion and advocacy. This includes strong laws against discrimination, spouse or partner benefits, gender-neutral restrooms, resource groups for employees, diverse marketing and promotion, donations to charities, and more. The company must incorporate inclusion into its values and objectives.

4. Uplifting Voices Over Profits 

The fundamental purpose should not be to profit on our identities. It should use its platform and reach to strengthen LGBTQIA+ voices, share our stories, celebrate our culture, and raise awareness about the ongoing hardships, unfairness, and prejudice that our community endures. Profit is second in terms of impact. 

5. Bold & Authentic Messaging 

Half-hearted initiatives stick out like a sore thumb. Companies should go large and precise with their Pride messaging and support. This includes featuring genuine LGBTQIA+ persons, utilising appropriate identities and pronouns, creating queer focused merchandise or partnerships, taking strong stances on community concerns, and much more. Surface-level rainbows are inadequate.

Celebrating With Intention   

We are not arguing that businesses cannot make any money during Pride. However, they must do this carefully and consciously, demonstrating genuine support for our community. When businesses celebrate Pride genuinely, putting advocacy ahead of marketing, they promote good change and demonstrate to LGBTQIA+ employees and consumers that they truly belong.

This Pride, let us all celebrate with purpose, whether we are individuals, businesses, or organisations. When we look beyond the rainbows and delve into the deeper “why” and “how” of assisting LGBTQIA+ people, we can make Pride far more meaningful and powerful.

Next Read: Delhi’s Secret Queer History: A Walking Tour That’s Kinda Lit

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