Op-Ed: Disingenuous Pride Month Campaigns


Luke Orlando, Staff Writer

Pride month is upon us, and with what seems like a record-breaking discussion of LGBTQ+ rights in recent months as countless legislators fight either for or against these rights, it’s sure to be an interesting one this time around. Regardless of political siding, though, there seems to be a common disdain for many pride month marketing campaigns; liberals and progressives are tired of corporate hypocrisy, and conservatives are fed up with so-called “grooming” and “indoctrination.” 

Seeing as I myself identify with the progressive end of the political spectrum, and seeing as this is an opinion piece, I’ll be focusing on discussing corporate hypocrisy as well as dumping a healthy touch of anti-conservative/anti-bigot attitudes into the mix (anti-conservative attitude #1: They’re not pro-life, pro-child, or anti-indoctrination. They’re anti-life, LGBTQ-hating, hypocritical bigots, and I don’t like them).  

Corporations have been criticized by progressives and liberals for years for their disingenuous “support” of the LGBTQ+ community. Just last year, many industry giants donated tens of thousands of dollars to anti-abortion legislators. For example, Amazon donated $240,571, Microsoft donated $59,500, and Ford Motor donated $269,550 to a total of 55, 61, and 149 legislators, respectively. 

You may be asking yourself how donations to anti-abortion legislators, rather than expressly anti-LGBTQ+ ones, are an example of corporate hypocrisy. These donations show hypocrisy because anti-abortion legislation takes away the rights of cisgender women, transgender men, and non-binary people, and actively supporting this legislation therefore directly impacts the LGBTQ+ community. 

The hypocrisy of corporations such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Ford Motor lies in their supposed support of the LGBTQ+ community. Each of these organizations has some version of a pride-themed website advocating self-love and inclusivity, yet donate tens of thousands of dollars to legislators who are actively working to restrict, or strip away, LGBTQ+ rights (the pride sites for Microsoft and Amazon are linked). 

For example, Ford Motor Company, one of the largest donors to anti-LGBTQ+ legislators, states on its pride website that its vision is, “of a corporate culture which provides a safe, inclusive, and supportive environment where diversity is valued and everyone is empowered to be authentic about them​selves in the workplace.” How can this possibly be true when Ford Motor is actively supporting anti-trans, anti-gay, and anti-LGBTQ+ legislation?

It can’t.

The Ford Motor Company does not care about its LGBTQ+ employees. If that were the case, it wouldn’t be actively endangering their existence. 

Still, more companies have been disingenuous with their marketing in recent years as they declare support for the pride movement and its events while simultaneously donating to notably anti-LGBTQ+ campaigns. For example, Comcast donated $121,350, AT&T donated $307,137, and Toyota donated $601,500 to these campaigns. The act of claiming support for the pride movement while also contributing directly to causes that threaten its existence shows a very clear level of corporate hypocrisy. These companies are effectively saying “go be LGBTQ+ and express yourselves! (we’re gonna take your rights away, though).”

While it’s certainly true that there is currently an excess of malicious, hypocritical corporations, it’s important to know that there are plenty of smaller companies that are genuinely and enthusiastically supportive of LGBTQ+ rights. Refinery29 lists over 30 LGBTQ+ friendly companies disconnected from the many malicious corporate giants and who are actively donating to pro-LGBTQ+ charities such as The Trevor Project.

Anyone seeking a good online source of support should also look to Instagram accounts like @impact, @gaytimes, @pride, and @so.informed. These accounts are frequently providing their followers with positive, supportive posts and have more genuine care and concern for the LGBTQ+ community than any corporation ever could. 

Even following these accounts, though, you could still easily fall victim to a disingenuous marketing campaign. To avoid falling for these traps, I strongly recommend, on top of following @impact and @so.informed, referring to resources like dataforprogress.org and theguardian.com as well as doing your own research. In an online landscape full of disingenuous campaigns by malicious corporations, it’s vital to recognize what’s genuine. 

 Regardless of what you do after reading this, I want to leave you with the following: Don’t be afraid to celebrate your identity (especially this month) but be aware of the immense hypocrisy and lack of sincerity behind much of the biggest pride month marketing campaigns- various companies continue to pretend to be your friend in June, but they’ll always be donating to causes and legislators that want your existence to be suppressed. Don’t fall for it. You deserve better.