Time and time again, capitalism, by nature, exploits marginalized communities by transforming them into mere markets, and selling them back to these communities as a commodity. Rainbow capitalism, the innate commercialization of LGBTQ+ movements, cheapens the meaning of pride month and the LGBTQ+ community. Many people are unaware of the hardships queer people of color went through in order to make pride month a reality, though this month is coincidentally meant to commemorate them. It has been found that an estimated 20 to 30 percent of the LGBTQ+ community abuses substances, compared to about 9 percent of the population as a whole and despite this, June is perhaps the biggest promotional season for the alcohol industry (“The LGBTQ Community and Addiction”).
As LGBTQ+ pride has become a more prevalent topic over the years, businesses are earnestly slapping rainbow on all their products in solidarity with queer crowds as a means for profit during June, in financial and social standings. Many of these companies may not support LGBTQ+ rights, yet they still slap some rainbow onto their merchandise, in an attempt to showcase their brand as activists and “woke.” More often than not, the profits from this merchandise do not holistically go towards helping queers in their fight for equity, but are instead being used to further their business and increase profits even more. This makes the marginalized communities that pride month was dedicated to feel like paltry commodities, subsequently subtracting from the urgency of LGBTQ+ rights. Pride month began as a way to appreciate queers and give them the opportunity to freely express themselves, but through fervent consumerism, the celebration of this month has begun to feel somewhat inauthentic. As a queer person, it feels as if nobody is sincere about their rights and are just paying lip service in order to gain their loyalty as a consumer, which is dehumanizing to see. Once the end of the month arrives, a significant number of these companies will remain deafeningly silent in their support for LGBTQ+ rights, showing that they do not truly care about the rights of LGBTQ+ communities. It is imperative to wait and see how a brand acts outside of June, to see if they are genuine in their support.
Some luxury brands have been shown to back LGBTQ+ communities outside of paying lip service. Balenciaga has pledged to donate 15% of their pride collection to LGBTQ+ charity the Trevor Project, and Calvin Klein has pledged an undisclosed sum to charities such as the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund. This shows that there are companies willing to exhibit loyalty to the LGBTQ+ community, which is a step in the right direction. However, 15% is not a very significant donation to the cause; seeing as these corporations are putting the pride flag on their merchandise, they should be giving all the proceeds back to the community.
Dedicating to a cause is a 12-month, year-round commitment, and that kind of dedication does not come from spouting buzzwords for a month. A reformation of the systematic discrimination that queer people recieve can only come about through authentic support from public figures and well-known brands, and not from feigned activism to bolster ulterior motives. Though the extra LGBTQ+ exposure is better than where the community was even some years ago, it shouldn’t be considered progress that these corporations accept the LGBTQ+ community; they only accept it because they can make a profit off of it.