How Capitalism Exploits, Pride Edition.
First Published: Newsletter 17/06/20
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We see it every year, big corporations changing their logos to incorporate the rainbow, introducing products especially for pride month, only for the small print to say “10% of profit goes to LGBT charities”. There are two issues with this: the company is hijacking the pride movement to exploit LGBTQ+ folk, especially younger LGBTQ+ people, to earn a profit, and, it places a facade on the company that their forgotten, homophobic past is suddenly rectified by a product with a rainbow splashed onto it as decoration, labeled as “LGBT”.
A well-known example of corporations doing their absolute most for pride was last year, when M&S sold their Lettuce Guacamole Bacon and Tomato sandwich, a twist on the nation’s beloved BLT. The sandwich received mixed responses from the public, most mortified that absolutely none of the profits from the £4 sandwich were going to charity, and instead the high-end supermarket chain donated a single £10,000 to the Albert Kennedy Trust, and €1,000 to an Irish charity called BeLong to Youth Services, while in that year, the company gained £500 million in profit before tax and adjustments, making their donation an estimated 0.04% of the profit that would have been earned on food products in the month of June last year.
Numbers aside, the more sinister tale behind the corporate rainbow is the homophobia twisted through the actions of brands, for example, this forbes article lists brands that have donated sizeable sums to what they call “anti-gay politicians”, while painting themselves rainbow in the month of June. In response, some of these brands made statements saying that they support politicians on “both sides of the aisle”, as if this suddenly excuses the donations that could potentially contribute to keeping conversion therapy legal in the US, amongst other homophobic advocations that goes on in American politics.
The capitalistic co-opting of pride has left many LGBTQ+ folx disillusioned with the month, some even disliking what parades have become, due to the false sense of support given by brands who, if pride wasn’t beneficial to them, would probably spout the same homophobic rhetoric that brands did many years ago. In fact, before same-sex marriage was legalised in many parts of the world, these brands were silent, and only started showing their colours when the LGBTQ+ movement had become trendy and lucrative, and was no longer seen as “illegal”.