Column: Pride shouldn’t be a commercial holiday

Helena Edwards, Opinions Writer

Pride month has rolled around again and with that comes businesses coming out of the woodworks to produce LGBT+ inspired merch from which something often called “rainbow capitalism” is born. 

Rainbow capitalism at its core is combining the LGBT+ movement with consumerism. 

People often don’t analyze the intentions and beliefs of the companies that utilize LGBT+ symbols for marketing.  

A big issue with this is that some companies will market towards the LGBT+, but still use the money to donate to anti-LGBT organizations. They will use rainbows in their products to cover up their past. 

This connects back to performative action. Performative action, or performative activism, is doing certain acts to seem helpful at face value, but not doing anything that will create actual change. 

We see rainbows and other pride flags in fashion, food brands, and even candles, but what does that have to do with the liberation of the LGBT+ community? 

The ones that baffle me the most is when some brands combine LGBT+ flags with the American flag as if Pride itself did not start out as a riot against America’s values of heteronormativity and against the police state. 

These may be the same product they have sold before but with our flag colors and with our identities. 

There is a difference in marketing towards a group versus exploiting the group for their identities and then turning back on them to donate that money to organizations that may be harmful to the LGBT+ community. 

A way to combat this is checking in on the history of corporation’s ideals and where they put their money, but an even more straightforward way to be safe is supporting companies that are backed by LGBT+ people. 

You get your products, and you are supporting the LGBT+ community while you’re at it. 

It is not a terrible thing to buy these products that are associated with rainbow capitalism, but just buying them to show off being an ally and then not doing anything else in terms of supporting the community is performative.  

Pride in the United States as a major movement is accredited as being started with the Stonewall Riots in 1969 and it is important to remember that and not let it be reduced to fashion and products with our identities slapped onto them. 

Capitalism must be restricted from benefiting off our struggle for human rights. If corporations are going to market towards marginalized groups and act like they care, I think they should also do work towards incorporating donations towards foundations that help the LGBT+.  

I do have to admit those candles and fashion from Target are cute though. Kudos to them for at least not making ugly merchandise. 

Helena Edwards can be reached  at [email protected]