Avoid Rainbow Washing: Celebrate Pride Year-Round

The month of June holds different meanings for everyone. For some, it may be the kick-off of summer vacation, but for many, the month is dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQ+ community and is commonly referred to as “Pride Month”. Gay pride or LGBTQ+ pride is the promotion of the self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people as a social group. 

Pride Month is held annually in June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots, which were a series of spontaneous protests held by the gay community in response to a police raid at a commonly known gay club, the Stonewall Inn, in New York City in 1969. The Stonewall Riots involved hundreds of people and led to six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement. A year later, thousands of people marched the streets, making the month of June officially known as “Pride Month”.

Pride Month welcomes an abundance of ad campaigns for clothing, food, and more from brands. Though representation is appreciated, it goes further than just “the rainbow packaging” during the month of June. GLAAD’s Chief Communications Officer Rich Ferraro states that it is important for brands to go deeper than rainbow representation one month of the year.

“There’s power in brands participating in Pride Month, and it’s important for their employees and their consumers to see support for the community during Pride Month. But it can’t be just during Pride Month,” he said. “If a brand doesn’t have a 365-day-a-year plan for LGBTQ+ inclusion, they really need to prioritize that over prioritizing a one-off Pride campaign.”

Using a rainbow logo, known as “rainbow washing”, is becoming more and more common. But consumers are aware of whether a brand is truly supporting the LGBTQ+ community through community relations, legislative support, and internal resources, or if their rainbow logo in the month of June is just for show.

Instead of just “rainbow washing” consider a more long-term approach like the following four examples of ways to show support to those who identify as LGBTQ+:

  1. Donate to LGBTQ+ organizations, like The Trevor Project, that advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. These organizations can range from health services to emergency helplines – a more comprehensive list can be found here.
  2. Support LGBTQ+ businesses! You can show support through sponsorships, partnerships or consumer loyalty. A list of businesses local to your designated area can be found here.
  3. March at your local parades to show support and love to the community. By joining the Human Rights Campaign online, you can receive updates and resources on how to participate in the movement in your area.
  4. Learn about the issues. Whether or not you identify as LGBTQ+, it is still important to show support and understand the issues and impacts that affect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. A great resource to start is at the Human Rights Campaign site, where you can find resources and tools for equality and inclusion.

June is used to uplift each of the voices of the LGBTQ+ community, especially those who are still in fear and hiding their identities. To support the LGBTQ+ community, we need to remember the importance of engaging in ways, like those noted above, that will make a lasting impact on society.