It’s dawn on June 1st. It’s the beginning of another Pride month – not only celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community, but also commemorating the years of fighting back against societal norms and guidelines on how – and who – to love and be.
Pride Month is celebrated in June of each year, commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. It’s a lot more than a parade down Fifth Ave. Pride Month is a time for self-expression, rallying for a more equitable tomorrow for all, remembering the community’s past – and shaping our future story.
While Pride still looks different from year to year in recent herstory (#ProudFeministOverHere), one thing does not: brands continue to realize the importance of the LGBTQIA+ community, not only for societal values and that – let’s face it – it’s the right thing to do…but also for the community’s massive market share.
Despite these brands conveying *and displaying* messages that “love is love” and that “queer lives matter,” many in the LGBTQIA+ community take issue with brands taking up space. Think of it this way: if you had some friends who didn’t accept how you identified or who you loved and wouldn’t hang out with you until you got the fancy in-ground pool in your backyard – how would you feel? Would you really want them in your pool?! …. Ok, so that’s a poor analogy, but you get the gist.
Recently, an anti-corporation march/movement was organized by queer rights activists. The group behind this movement is called the Reclaim Pride Coalition. –Like it’s namesake, they aim to reclaim Pride’s roots, bringing visibility to the real issues the LGBTQIA+ community faces, especially those most marginalized within the community – i.e., people of color, queer, nonbinary and trans people. The goal is to bring the same spirit that was brought by rioters at the Stonewall Riots 52 years ago.
So, how can brands be involved in this conversation? Here’s my take.
Take a Back Seat + Elevate Self-Expression.
Brands can first be involved in community conversations by providing the tools for self-expression.
I’d argue that brands shouldn’t be the ones taking up centerstage at Pride but can be the ones holding the stage together. Brands can authentically engage with the community by not being the one to express, but the one used for self-expression.
Be An Ally + Listen.
Being an ally means showing up for the communities you pledge to support all year-round. Just because it’s July 1st doesn’t mean Pride is over. Continue to be an ally to the community 365 days a year and listen to those within the communities you’re supporting – whether that be the LGBTQIA+ community, the Black community, QTPOC, etc. Don’t do what you think is best for the community, listen to the community – and leaders and activists within that community – for what they need.
Mouth, Meet Money.
The Pride Month collections are here – but what is a “love is love” t-shirt without being tied to a greater donation? Brands who have enough $$$ to activate around Pride month, likely have deep enough pockets to support the community in a greater way and drive impact year-round. Make it count.
And if funds aren’t available to monetarily support the communities in which your brand or organization is looking to support, think of new avenues in which you/your brand or organization can support the community – i.e., volunteering your time, knowledge or resources.
Realize Diversity + Create Space.
Brands who are working to celebrate specific heritage months or communities at different tentpole moments throughout the year should make sure that diversity is continually at the forefront.
As someone who is white, cisgender and queer – I can speak to my experience and maybe the experience of others like me, but what I can’t do is speak for the entire LGBTQIA+ community – especially those most marginalized.
When working to create a campaign around a specific community, it’s incredibly important to fully realize diversity and create space for all parts of a community with different viewpoints to be able to come forward with as many diverse ways of thinking/approaching a campaign or idea as possible.
When diversity is welcomed with open arms – and the space is created for diverse-viewpoints – brands will be more likely set-up for success to drive authentic impact within the communities they’re serving.