Walking into any big-box store amidst the month of June promises you three things every single time:
- The air conditioner will greet you with a subtle swoosh.
- A playlist full of Ariana Grande’s best hits will be on repeat, regardless of the time or place.
- Rainbow merchandise will litter the store and rule the overall theme of the store right until the clock strikes midnight on July 1st.
All of these things (besides the air’s gentle kiss, which we accredit to just being a true, summertime courtesy) rule the entire month of June because of PRIDE month.
PRIDE month for many marks the celebration of accomplishments of the LGBTQ+ community and plays its part as one month out of the year dedicated to the celebration of being just who you are.
However, Pride month itself is much more than just the literal sunshine and rainbows plastered across t-shirts, dog collars, nail polish bottles, as well as the head, shoulders, knees, and toes of big-box stores around the globe.
The Past, Present, and Future of Pride for Corporations
PRIDE originated as a protest on June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village in New York City. Throughout the years, members of the LGBTQ+ community have utilized the month of June as a time to raise awareness on political policies, dedicate time to the community, and contribute to a better public understanding of the LGBTQ+ community.
With that said, the commercialization of PRIDE tends to leave a bad taste for members of the LGBTQ+ community as corporations continue to overshadow the true meaning behind PRIDE.
We love to see the continued support of PRIDE grow each year, but the questions remain:
- Does the commercialization of PRIDE unintentionally take away from the efforts of the LGBTQ+ community?
- Are companies taking the necessary steps to participate in PRIDE without overstepping boundaries?
- Do corporations have any place at PRIDE at all?
The Intentions Behind PRIDE Marketing
The intentions set behind marketing are to sell or promote items or goods. It’s a tale as old as time and a story we love to tell as a marketing firm.
However, just like any ethical marketing practice, businesses must ensure that their approach to marketing during PRIDE month is conscious of who and what they’re promoting.
One of the complaints consumers have, especially consumers who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community, is inauthenticity. Many of the companies that market PRIDE-inspired items during PRIDE seem to do very little for the cause throughout the rest of the year. People see the way companies choose to market during PRIDE month as a cheap way to pander to an audience instead of making genuine connections within the community.
This shallow attempt at marketing to the LGBTQ+ community is where the idea of “rainbow capitalism” originates. Rainbow capitalism is the concept of utilizing gay culture only to sell a product or service.
The mixture of a political movement with marketing a product or service is a path that has to be taken with the utmost care and respect for the movement itself and the people who support it.
At the end of the day, PRIDE will be a mainstream event that marketers will use. However, that does not mean they should do so carelessly. If there’s a place for businesses during PRIDE, it’s in positioning themselves to listen, advocate for, and donate to causes within the LGBTQ+ community, not just to show up with their rainbow flags and PRIDE banners.
Morphing the Social Understanding of the LGBTQ+ Community Through Mainstream Marketing
The depiction of gay culture and gay pride in the eyes of mainstream media is only one lens of a very diverse community. Many companies tend to only look at this one mainstream idea of queer culture as their guideline.
As conscious consumers, we must recognize the impact of marketing on the LGBTQIA+ community. We must always be aware of how we depict and offer support to the queer community. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing for PRIDE. Companies need to recognize that queerness is only one aspect of someone’s identity and not the entirety of who they are.
The way companies decide to market during PRIDE is often only representative of gay men. If companies want to show their support of the LGBTQ+ community, they must first understand the range of the LGBTQ+ community. Upon that, they will find that they are marketing to real people with real experiences and not just textbook definitions of the LGBTQ+ community.
What Appropriate PRIDE Marketing Looks Like
Genuine and effective PRIDE marketing goes beyond simply plastering rainbows on your merchandise and only appealing to one spectrum of the LGBTQ+ experience.
In marketing, we love storytelling. We constantly talk about the story you tell your audience. That’s because at the center of any good marketing campaign is a story that will resonate with people and create a sense of unity among a larger community.
In creating any content for PRIDE, an attempt to make genuine connections must come first.
We can promise you, the LGBTQ+ community is full of vibrant people with moving stories to tell, and not just stories of triumph and tribulations (though those matter too) but tales of love, adventure, humor, and accomplishment.
Appropriate PRIDE marketing does one thing: puts the queer story at the focus in a sincere way.
How to Support the LGBTQ+ Community Today and Everyday
Support LGBTQIA+ Organizations. One great way for a business to make an impact during PRIDE Month is to partner with a charitable LGBTQ+ organization. Businesses can donate a percentage of sales during a specific period or encourage staff to volunteer at charitable events.
As advocates of small businesses and supporting local communities, we always encourage the idea of looking for ways to locally support the LGBTQ+ communities in your city, town, and neighborhood.
Give your support to small, queer-owned businesses. If you are a larger company or a personal brand with an active following, don’t hesitate to align yourself with other small, queer-owned businesses. This can look like anything from sharing one another’s content on social media to collaborating with queer artists or other queer business owners. This kind of collaboration helps you create connections that matter in your personal life, not just your business.
This perspective also helps you understand and cater more frequently to your LGBTQ+ audience.
Make a continuous effort to keep things diverse. Any company can dedicate a part of its efforts to ensuring its marketing campaigns are inclusive.
This can include but is not limited to:
- Adding inclusive language throughout marketing materials
- Ensuring that campaigns are approved by people with different backgrounds and identities
- Encouraging a continued conversation about diversity in the workplace
Making the Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion All Year Long
At Gravity Junction, we believe in creating a space for our team and clients alike to bring their entire selves to the table. We have always worked toward creating a space that allows everyone, inside and outside of the company, to feel as if they’re receiving the most authentic experience. We believe in embracing all the differences life offers us because those differences are what make our team stronger. We wish you all a happy PRIDE Month and beyond and hope every one of you continues to fight for what you believe.