If you went shopping during Pride Month, you were likely to come across pride-themed products with rainbow color schemes and snappy slogans such as “Cheers Queers” and “Chaotic Bisexual” written on them. Aside from their visual appeal, they often provide consumers with a sense of satisfaction for monetarily supporting a community that has faced neglect by companies for decades.
Companies placed these products on store shelves as a method of demonstrating solidarity with LGBTQ+ communities in an effort to right their wrongs and create socioeconomic pathways toward equality. These actions of solidarity, however, are often acts of rainbow capitalism for some companies, which LGBTQ and All defines as “the action of companies claiming to support LGBTQ+ causes and communities, but are actually making merchandise for-profit and capitalize on the trend.”
Though some companies placed pride-related products on shelves with pure intentions, others use rainbow capitalism, which is also linked to pinkwashing, to improve their image or increase revenue by exploiting a vulnerable community that has faced and continues to face scrutiny in the workplace. As consumers, one of the most significant ways in which the LGBTQ+ community can be supported in the midst of a rainbow capitalism phenomenon is through implementing ethical shopping practices during Pride Month and year round.
Ethical shopping is one of the most significant ways in which economic justice can be shown to the LGBTQ+ community, and is not something that should be limited to the month of June. Consider these ethical shopping practices to ensure that the LGBTQ+ community, especially LGBTQ+ workers, are placed at the forefront of your shopping cart.
Support companies with affirmative employment practices and benefits for LGBTQ+ employees: One of the best ways to help the LGBTQ+ community throughout the year is to support companies that actively encourage policies and benefits that support LGBTQ+ employees. Examine a company’s policies by looking at its inclusiveness promises and employment criteria, both of which are available on their websites. Another option is to check into the Human Rights Campaign’s corporate equality index, which uses four to six equality principles to assess a company’s inclusiveness. The 2022 index can be found here.
Pride Month should not be the end of LGBTQ+ affirming products: One indicator of rainbow capitalism is the availability of a wide range of pride merchandise during Pride Month, but not year round. Examine how companies roll out pride products outside of June by having a look at their product line up online or exploring shop shelves before and after the month. Checking product availability on a regular basis ensures that a company’s solidarity is lasting rather than a facade.
Financial support for LGBTQ+ people should not lie just on the shoulders of consumers, but also on the shoulders of producers: Companies investing their profits on themselves rather than in the LGBTQ+ community is another indicator of rainbow capitalism. Consider purchasing from businesses who financially support the LGBTQ+ community by donating a portion or all of its products profits to LGBTQ+ causes or pledging to donate money to causes relating to the LGBTQ+ community.
LGBTQ+ Inclusive products are those that are designed with intention: Choosing bold colors and enticing words isn’t enough to create intentional pride products. Products designed with intention can cover a number of affirming elements, such as products that do not promote harmful stereotypes or products that celebrate diversity. Investigate the production and creative processes of the products you are contemplating purchasing. Another factor to consider is items created in conjunction with LGBTQ+ members of the community, since these products help to promote LGBTQ+ voices and ideas.
Buying directly from LGBTQ+ people has a lasting impact: Directly supporting LGBTQ+ businesses is by far the most ethical way to shop with LGBTQ+ economic justice in mind. Supporting LGBTQ+ businesses directly benefits LGBTQ+ people’s livelihoods, as many of these businesses are owned and controlled by LGBTQ+ people. Supporting these businesses also ensures that you are buying from businesses whose practices are beneficial to the community as a whole. Internationalist offers an LGBTQ+ business finder to help consumers shop from the LGBTQ+ community.