Appropriation v. Appreciation: How to Best Support the LGBTQ Community during Pride
by Katie Murray, Community Engagement Intern
Now that June and Pride month are over, it’s time to reflect on how we show our appreciation for the queer community and time to recognize that appropriation can be disguised as appreciation.
When June rolls around, there’s a degree of excitement that floats through the air — summertime has come and so has Pride; warm weather and an entire month dedicated to the celebration of the LGBTQ community. With rainbows and flags being the most recognizable symbol of the LGBTQ community, people utilize them to show their support of the queer community. June and Pride have intertwined to create a kaleidoscope of rainbows in businesses, on the streets, clothing, food, art, and so much more to celebrate and promote the visibility of the LGBTQ community.
Supporting LGBTQ people should not be something that is done one month out of the year, however, that is what so many companies are doing every June. Making a profit is not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to selling merchandise; however, appropriating marginalized communities in order to make a profit is. Furthermore, not using the profit to support the marginalized community you’re appropriating or claiming to support is unacceptable. Pride is an extremely on trend event; it’s popular with a wide variety of people, and the parade is an exciting cultural event people are drawn to taking part in every year. This is another example of corporations realizing a trend of something being “in” and marketing it in an appealing way, but by doing that with the LGBTQ community, they are harming them. Money that non-profit organizations (NPOs) and other LGBTQ supporting organizations could use support in their work with the LGBTQ community is being kept from them, even though it was made through co-opting the cultures of the people they support.
It’s easy to see something with messaging that refers to Pride and automatically assume that the queer community is being benefited if you purchase whatever item it is from the store you’re in, but the next time you find yourself in the situation where you want to buy something in support of Pride, do a little research first to ensure that you make your purchase count the most for the people who need it the most. You can find information on the organizations that the company supports online — it may be under their philanthropy section, corporate social responsibility section, ‘About Us’ section, or even under the details tab online under the item you may be looking at. From there you can (hopefully) see which organizations are being supported, how they are being supported (i.e. through splitting the proceeds for certain items sold, grants, etc.), and for how long they have been and will be supported (i.e. year round for ten years, every June for the past two years, etc.).
If a company has an extremely vague tagline about working with an LGBTQ group or organization or donating a portion of the proceeds from the purchase to a project or organization, be wary. If they can’t give you specifics for how they plan on supporting the LGBTQ community through the purchasing of their product, then consider purchasing something from a company that can.
There are companies and organizations operating on both local and national levels that sell Pride merchandise and support the LGBTQ community. It is important to know who they are so that when you buy merchandise for Pride or to support the LGBTQ community in any other way, you know you’re supporting them in the most impactful ways. We buy the rainbows and flags to support and celebrate an incredible community of people to help them thrive, and a great way to do that is to make sure we’re appreciating and supporting the LGBTQ community, not appropriating it.