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Photo: Pride Month
In recent years, strides have been made toward equality for the LGBTQ+ community. One of those strides is the popularity of pride month. Though it seems that the original purpose of the celebration has been overshadowed by capitalist incentives for participation. While the community struggles for equitable treatment and access to life-saving resources, corporations stand to profit off of our image. It is essential that, instead of focusing on awareness alone, the public and businesses step up and take action to show our community their allyship. Acknowledging the existence of queer folk cannot be enough. Progress cannot stop at visibility, meaning that there is so much more to the queer community than just our image. So this pride month, consider how to take your activism a layer deeper!
Pride Month – Current Approaches
Awareness has become the primary goal of pride. And while getting queer existence out to the public is essential for acceptance and understanding, more often than not, this performative activism doesn’t yield action. Instead, businesses abuse the queer community for “brownie points” as well as financial gain.
One of the most popular approaches to pride month has been commercialization. From companies exchanging their logos for rainbows, to stores being decked out in rainbow apparel and merchandise – there is little one can do to ignore the impact of the LGBTQ+ community on the world of retail. And while this approach does boost awareness, many queer people take issue with the support of companies becoming incentives for profit.
Many companies choose to come out with pride-themed merchandise in the month of June. Additionally, many change their social media profile pictures to rainbow versions of their logos. However, the issue lies in the fact that the proceeds from this pride merchandise rarely go to the benefit of the community. In fact, many of the companies that sell pride merchandise openly donate to politicians and charities that work to promote anti-queer legislation.
Instead of providing genuine support to the communities from which they stand to profit, businesses choose to ignore the fact that monetary assistance could be one of the greatest approaches to allyship. In a world where everything revolves around the dollar, it is disheartening to see a lack of monetary support for the communities which provide businesses with financial gain through their image. Of course, most companies want to appear inclusive and progressive, however, when the only actions that they put forth are profit motivated, it is worth questioning their real intentions.
What the Community Wants
Instead of promoting meaningless awareness for the sake of profit, it is essential to aim for consistently equitable treatment of the queer community. There are many pathways to making the celebration of pride more fulfilling for LGBTQ+ folks. Anywhere from making parades more accessible, to rallying for change in anti-queer legislation. There is so much that the public and businesses alike can do to uplift us.
Holding pride parades is one of the most exciting ways to celebrate pride. For many queer folks, these parades are some of the only times that they get to be around their own community. Therefore, this method of celebration is valuable and effective. However, one issue that stands when it comes to parades is their accessibility.
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Whether that be because they are not disability friendly or because they’re hard to get to. Some of the ways in which pride parades can be disability-friendly would include always holding the parades on level ground, ensuring the consistent presence of first-aid personnel, and avoiding things like loud confetti cannons or fireworks. Transportation is a whole other issue, for many queer youths who may not be out to their families, it is often very difficult to arrange for transportation to pride festivals that are far away. A potential solution to this would be holding several pride celebrations on different days and in different locations. This would also likely boost the reach of the community.
Outside of straightforward celebrations, there are many other ways to support and uplift the queer community during pride month. One of those ways is donating proceeds from pride merchandise to queer charities. There are a lot of financial burdens that many queer people struggle with, and providing charitable donations from the profit elapsed from sales on pride merchandise makes a lot of sense. Whether the donations go to organizations that help transgender individuals to receive gender-affirming care, or to organizations that provide housing for homeless, queer people of color. This pride month, consider looking into where the companies you buy from donate, in order to evaluate whether their activism is performative.
Finally, one of the most meaningful ways of supporting the LGBTQ+ community is through the opposition to anti-queer legislation. Whether it be the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, or the denial of gender-affirming healthcare to transgender youth – there are many political issues currently affecting the queer community. So whether you sign a petition with the click of a button, or go out on the streets and protest these human rights violations – the community will recognize your allyship far more than if you wear pride merchandise without taking any actions that back that up.
At the end of the day, pride celebrations are meant to amplify queer voices and achieve strength in numbers. There are many ways to celebrate queer joy and queer achievement during the month of June. From reading LGBTQ+ books to your kids and teaching them about different identities at home, to implementing queer history into the curriculum at schools – education is one of the most powerful tools for acceptance. Building on acceptance with action is also an incredible way to show support for the queer community. Whether that be by donating to queer charities, being mindful of where pride sale proceeds go, or opposing anti-queer legislation. There is a world of opportunities to show us LGBTQ+ folk that you care and that you will stand with us.
By Micha Jones
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Micha Jones is a writer and aspiring television producer who is dedicated to education and equity. Writing review and feature articles for The Hollywood Insider, they focus on the ways in which media can tell marginalized stories. Through reflecting on the portrayal of social and environmental issues in TV and film, Micha aims to make positive changes in the entertainment industry. Micha’s work often carries The Hollywood Insider’s signature “mic-drop” perspectives and makes an effort to tell educational and socially progressive stories. They strongly believe in accurate representation in film and emphasize the power of the community.