Closing Thoughts on Pride 2021: The Rise of Rainbow Capitalism and More

| By Elaine Godwin

As this year’s Pride comes to a close, it is important to reflect on the future of the LGBTQIA+ community beyond just the month of June or random queer-related days once a year. Being queer, I find myself in the difficult position of wanting both substantial strides in terms of advocacy and equality, yet understanding that Pride in of itself is a time of joyful celebration, meant to express all the best parts of being proud. 

Eli Clare, author of Exile and Pride:Disability, Queerness, and Liberation, writes, “Pride works in direct opposition to internalized oppression. The latter provides a fertile ground for shame, denial, self-hatred, and fear. The former encourages anger, strength, and joy. To transform self-hatred into pride is a fundamental act of resistance.”

This final sentence is one I resonate with and have tried to exemplify throughout this Pride month. It is no secret that more and more companies are realizing the economic value and profitability of Pride and other queer-centered events; social media is rife with large corporations changing their logos to a rainbow edition for exactly 30 days before their queer tolerance is up.

It is no secret that Pride is a lucrative economic opportunity, particularly for companies looking to make an easy social justice stance that requires little effort yet returns high dollar values. Many folk and allies have called out this queerbaiting for economic gain and the rainbow capitalism tactics that are used to exploit the queer identity. However, pride is most effective from the ground up - by starting with queer businesses and entrepreneurs themselves.

Studies conducted in partnership with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and its partners have found that “the LGBT community spends more than $917 billion every year on goods and services, and they are more than 75% likely to change brands when they know they are LGBT inclusive.” Obviously, there is no shortage of value within the LGBTQIA+ businesses or consumers; each is necessary for the advancement of the entire community. Rather than giving into the larger framework of corporations marketing towards the queer community simply for profitability, this money should be re-invested in queer businesses or queer-partnered businesses.

Since working with NGLCC, my ability to knowingly contribute to small businesses, and more importantly, queer-owned small businesses has greatly increased. I have been able to consistently replace larger, more mainstream sources with Certified LGBTBE® options. For those unaware, these businesses are at least 51% owned or operated by LGBT individuals, ensuring your dollar goes directly towards benefiting the queer economy. NGLCC also provides more intersectional accreditations and options with both the TGNC (Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming, and Nonbinary) Task Force and the Communities of Color Initiative. Locality is just as important in many cases, but with Affiliate Chambers and other resources, businesses in my area have been easy to locate.

Clare also writes, “I want to sharpen my pride on what strengthens me, my witness on what haunts me. Whatever we name ourselves, however we end up shattering our self-hatred, shame, silence, and isolation, the goal is the same: to end our daily material oppression.”

I strengthen my pride by strengthening the community I belong to, by attempting to strengthen and uplift each and every queer person I encounter. This of course extends to overall queer revenue and the many businesses owned or operated by our respective community. As the largest advocacy non-profit organization for specifically LGBT businesses, NGLCC offers an underutilized resource for those consumers or allies looking to make a conscientious purchase and offer material support to end material oppression.