This past weekend in my ‘berg and many other cities around the nation and world, it was the celebration of Pride Month. June marks the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that occurred in New York in 1969 and were largely credited with kicking off the LGBT Equality movement. This movement has been so successful and powerful that now Pride events everywhere are being subjected to corporatization. At the march in my town, a cellphone service company took a spot in the parade, expressing their support for the gay community and their “bear of a deal” on wireless plans.
I have heard complaints and laudations of this corporate infiltration of a civil rights movement, and I get both sides. It seems like corporations are pandering and usurping a minority group’s struggle, commodifying a human rights narrative. It’s like gentrifying a protest.
There’s also nothing worse than having a good time interrupted by a commercial. Get out of here, local credit union, we’re trying to do jello shots while rollerskating wearing elaborate wings, a studded codpiece and nothing else. It’s a celebration of the sexuality that society continues to marginalize and demonize, it’s not a time for your low low APR home refi!
Then again, it’s pretty awesome that society has progressed so far that companies feel not only safe but compelled to market to the LGBT community and its allies. In the 90s I couldn’t conceive of Senate and Mayoral candidates marching alongside drag queens throwing condoms at families watching the festivities on the roadside in the deep South. But those are the pictures I’m seeing in the local newspaper under a positive, supportive headline. It gives me a sense of hope.
This idea of corporate activism is, well, transparent, and ultimately a positive sign of progress, provided it doesn’t completely dilute or derail the movement. “Well, Geoff, we lost our right to use bathrooms in public, adopt so much as a dog and risk getting murdered for expressing our affection for one another in public, but hey, Shipley’s has rainbow frosted donuts for a limited time only, so I’d say our efforts were successful and we can sell all of our protest arts and crafts to the indigenous people.”
Also, is there a way for me to get in on this? Dear corporations trying to exploit people’s passions, identity politics, cis-guilt, and empathies, I’m pretty good at it and I work cheap. I’ve worked in non-profits for a very long time and have been leveraging my amoral principles to support causes through the justification of the actions of profiteers for even longer. Gimme a try.
What’s your industry? Banking? “A line of credit is perfect for those who refuse to be labeled. Use that money for what you want. You do you.”
Auto sales? “We’re bi, we love domestic and imported cars…and Subarus, lots of Subarus.”
Golf course? “Sink it in all of our holes.” That one was a gimme. “Practice your long game with us.” I barely hit par on that one.
Restaurant? “Have breakfast for dinner, we don’t care, we’ll conform to you.” By the way, why can’t restaurants and fast food joints serve breakfast foods all day? What the hell is going on in kitchens that they aren’t able to deep fry hash browns in the same vat as fries?
I really just want to work from home and will literally sell out any group if it means I don’t have to commute anymore. Please understand, LGBTQIA community (and all the initials I regret missing), I spend hours in my car every day. Can’t you see that I am the one suffering here? Just let me shamelessly niche market to you.