Major Brands & Their Pride

MatthewsPlace.com
Jun 4 · 9 min read

by Ryan Cassata

Major brands like Converse, Adidas, Levi, J. Crew and so many more are showing their support this pride season by branding their popular items with rainbow flags and trans pride colors. This year it seems like almost every major brand is out and proud showing their support for the LGBTQ community. I feel that I’m seeing more rainbows then ever before. Members of the LGBTQ are divided about their feelings about the incorporation of rainbows.

Brandon J. Wolf (@brandonjwolf) from Equality Florida says “That corporations are willing to bring visibility to the LGBTQ community is a testament to the incredible progress that has been made on the backs of generations of queer leaders. With that said, Pride is rooted in activism and a fight for full equality. It is our responsibility to continue to hold corporate America responsible not just for slapping rainbow flags on merchandise, but lifting us up with inclusive policies and community support.”

Some community members are torn. They aren’t sure if it’s a good or bad thing. They can see both sides of the argument. Enrique Jesus Hernandez (@enriquejhmusic), singer-songwriter, performer and host of the Gay Guts showcase in Los Angeles says “Brands putting the rainbow imagery is a way to capitalize on gay culture, first and foremost. It doesn’t mean these brands actually care — but the normalization and appearance of support is helpful for our community to be more welcomed. Do I think it’s a bad thing, no. is it good … I wouldn’t go that far.”

However, Some members of the LGBTQ community see it as mostly a bad or negative thing. I see reactions all over social media like: It’s capitalism. They are profiting off of the LGBTQ community. Are they giving back to the LGBTQ community? They should donate 100% of the profits. They are making the LGBTQ community a commodity. On and on and on…

Trans Activist Joy Ellison says: “Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson fought to end capitalism, not cover it in rainbows.”

The lead singer of the band Evvergreen (@evvergreenmusic) says “Profiting off of oppressed people is wrong; if a company was going to sell pride gear and donate the profits that would be one thing, but that’s not often the case. For example, when Walmart sells rainbow flag dresses but a Walmart employee calls me disgusting for holding my partner’s hand in the store, there’s quite a bit of hypocrisy there.”

Musician Lucas Santora (@tapeddeckheart) says “To me it feels disingenuous, like our identities are being commodified for corporate bigwigs to get richer. If you’re slapping rainbows and generic messages about love and equality on clothes, and then keeping the profit for yourself, you’re not doing us any favors”

SO HOW DO YOU SHOP SMART?

If you want to shop smart and make sure you’re supporting LGBTQ non profits, centers, and organizations when you are purchasing pride gear this pride month, you’re in luck! Mic.com has put out a list of brands that have pride gear, with information on the amount donated from the sales or the brands one time donation. Some brands are donating a small percentage of profits, and others are donating 100%, like Converse.

Like Levis, many brands will write where the donations are going on their website! So be sure to read the fine print!

Levis is partnering with Queer Britain as part of their pride campaign to help establish the UK’s first national LGBTQ+ museum. From the Levis website: “Thank you for supporting Levi’s® 2019 LGBT Pride Collection. This year’s pride clothing collection was designed to raise awareness about stigma. 100% of proceeds from 2018 were donated to support our partners, the Harvey Milk Foundation and Stonewall Community foundation. Continue celebrating your Pride by browsing the Levi’s® LGBT Pride Collection while supplies last. For the latest styles, visit our new arrivals page for men and women.”

WHAT DO I PERSONALLY THINK ABOUT ALL THE RAINBOWS?

I’m 25 years old and when I think about the entire length that I have been out so far and have been aware of the revolution, I am amazed about the progress the queer community has made. I was the first openly bi/queer person to come out in my middle school at the time. I was the first openly trans person to ever come out in my high school. Most people didn’t know what “transgender” even meant when I came out. I remember when Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed. I remember marching at the SF Trans March in 2012 and seeing hundreds of trans people and allies marching together. That made me feel a great sense of hope that I hadn’t really experienced before. I remember standing on Castro Street in San Francisco when marriage equality passed in California in 2013 and cheering with a sign among a sea of happy queer folks. I remember when marriage equality passed in the entire country. I remember waking up that morning and feeling like the world was actually changing.

Then I remember a couple years ago when Lush had a big display in their window with trans flags and trans pride themed soaps with an information packet. I was at a mall in NorCal when I saw it in person. It brought tears to my eyes. Never in my lifetime did I think that I would get the opportunity to see a major brand supporting who I had been bullied for being my entire life. It gave me so much hope for the future. It made me feel like I belonged. It made me feel supported. It almost felt like Lush was giving the trans community a huge hug.

So as all these brands roll out with their pride themed merchandise for pride season. I’m happy. I’m grateful. I’m grateful that we came this far. I NEVER thought I would see so many brands, lots that I really love, come out in support of LGBTQ equality. It’s almost feels like a dream because it’s so unbelievable. It shows progress on so many levels to me. It symbolizes the revolution that we are a part of. It’s also a peaceful protest.

Regardless of the donations that the brands are or aren’t making, they are helping to create a lot of visibility for the LGBTQ community. Personally, I wish they would all donate portions of their proceeds to help the LGBTQ, but regardless, I am extremely grateful for the visibility and to know that my favorite brands are out and open supporting the movement and the queer community in huge ways. They are using their platforms to spread awareness and love.

If you’re unsure about how your favorite brand is supporting the LGBTQ community, it’s as simple as a Google search. You can find info on the brands website or from reliable news sources. Fact check before you buy!
I’m sure you’ll see a lot more rainbows this year than previous years. It means we are moving forward. It means we are more visible. It means we have more open support. It means the country is changing. It means the world is changing. We have a long, long way to go, but we cannot deny the fact that progress has been made. Wear your rainbows this year with pride!

HOW DO MEMBERS OF THE QUEER COMMUNITY FEEL ABOUT IT?

(Instagram Accounts Tagged)
“If brands want to be “gay” once a year for a month, I’m ok with that. Much like when straight people go to pride events, make sure as a brand you don’t just capitalize on the fun — be there for our rights as well. Donate to a foundation or not for profit to help forward our movement of equality.” — Arielle Scarcella (@arielle_scarcella)

“I was just thinking about this the other day when I went shopping with my gf. It was kind of sobering to see Pride apparel for sale a few days after the Trump administration said they wanted to roll back our healthcare protections entirely. It feels good that maybe transphobic and homophobic people have to see our existence but it feels bad because I want to know if those companies will be fighting for us when it comes down to legislation. Are those who are making money off of us electing officials who intend to harm us?” — Basil Vaughn Soper (@tiniestking, @wearetransilient)

“It depends on the reasoning. If it’s to show support for the LGBTQ+ community, or has a charitable component behind the branding then I think it’s a good thing.” — Doryn Fine (@dorynfine)

“I think visibility for lgbtq+ people, especially in a time where were still fighting for basic rights is really important. however, when big companies are putting out pride collections, and those companies have never been vocal about supporting the community before, it feels like they’re only doing it for profit, as opposed to genuine care and desire to help.” — Mae Krell (@maekrell)

“I think it’s awesome to see major brands supporting and releasing pride gear. Many of these major brands are giving back money to our LGBTQ community with every purchase. Personally, I was asked to wear a piece from the Guess pride line this year during my performance at LA pride and I couldn’t be more stoked!” — Madyx (@madyxmusic)

“I feel happy, I do think it’s a good thing. I could see how some might take it as a bad thing as it might seem insincere or a marketing move BUT it is still bringing visibility to our community and bringing support from more people. We can always find a negative in ever situation but we can also chose to see how powerful of a win this is for our community and the visibility and rights we have been fighting for. We are being seen and heard!! 💕 ” — Juliana (@itsqueenpebbs)

“If you asked me if I wanted to see more rainbow themed options at stores I’d say, “of course!” Now though, it seems like most popular brands are just jumping on the bandwagon because everyone else is doing it. It seems like they want to attract more lgbt customers for the sales. But the more I think about it, the more I realize it’s great seeing rainbow and pride accessories everywhere! Even though companies want to capitalize on our struggle to be accepted, at least we can buy all the rainbow water bottles and shirts we can imagine.” — Hunter T (@hunterisOK)

“I feel that having major brands put rainbows on their products can be either good or bad depending on their morals. On one hand, these major brands have a large influence on society’s perception of “normal”, and by showing that they support LGBTQAI+ people, they are also normalizing that support. Unfortunately, there are some brands that care more about capitalizing from our community during pride month than supporting us all year, but hopefully this capitalization will lead to normalization. “ — Steph, @ElloSteph

About the Author:

Ryan Cassata is an award-winning singer-songwriter, actor, performer, writer and LGBTQ activist & motivational speaker based in Los Angeles. With features in Rolling Stone, Billboard Magazine, The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and The Daily News, Ryan has made the most of his young career, which started when he was just 13.

As a musician with over 550 performances touring across the United States and internationally, including dates on the Van’s Warped Tour, SXSW and at the world’s biggest pride festivals, Ryan has been praised by The Advocate saying he’s a “Transgender singing sensation”, Paper Magazine put him on the “50 LGBTQ Musicians You Should Prioritize” list, LOGO put him on the “9 Trans Musicians You Need To Get Into” list and Billboard put him on the “11 Transgender & Non-Binary Musicians You Need to Know” list and premiered his most recent music video for “Daughter.” He has also been heard on Sirius XM Radio, BBC Radio 4 and other radio stations around the world. MORE INFO AT: http://www.ryancassata.com/

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MatthewsPlace.com is a program of the Matthew Shepard Foundation| Words by & for LGBTQ+ youth | #EraseHate | Want to contribute? Email sara@matthewshepard.org

Matthew’s Place

MatthewsPlace.com is a program of the Matthew Shepard Foundation| Words by & for LGBTQ+ youth | #EraseHate | Want to contribute? Email sara@matthewshepard.org