The Commercialisation of Pride

It’s the first week of Pride month – let’s not forget the true origins of this celebration

Pride started out as a riot, a revolution and a call for justice. The Stonewall Riots weren’t the first time LGBTQ+ people stood up to the police, but they are certainly the best remembered, and they led to the creation of what we now call Pride.

On a hot summer night in Greenwich Village, police raided the Stonewall Inn arresting patrons and forcing them into police vehicles. Then, onlookers started fighting back, forcing the homophobic cops to retreat. The street riots continued over the next few nights. Following the Stonewall Riots, organisers wanted to keep up the spirit of resistance. The following year, they organised a march to Central Park and adopted the theme of ‘Gay Pride’ countering the shame they had been taught to feel.

First Ever Pride March

© cnn.com

Nowadays, Pride Month takes place every year in June, with marches, parties and events taking place up and down the country. Each year it gets bigger and bigger, and in order to keep growing, it needs financial support. This is where the big brands come in. Up and down every high street you’ll see rainbow flags outside almost every shop window and whilst the support and money are great, what exactly are these brands doing for the LGBTQ+ community for the other 51 weeks of the year?

It’s inevitable that at London Pride you’ll see logos for Barclays, HSBC, Starbucks, Nando’s – all the big names are there. Even the politicians like to get involved, including the ones who do not have LGBTQ+ rights on their agenda most of the time. As capitalism gets worse, there’s a risk queer liberation will be forgotten. With people donning themselves in the rainbow flag, it can be easy to forget why we have Pride in the first place.

Some things to consider when engaging with brands during Pride Month: firstly, where is your money going? The goal of a Pride campaign ultimately is to sell something so money is made. Where does that money go? Is the brand donating some, if not all, of their profits to something that benefits the LGBTQ+ community? If a brand is making money off a marginalised community and keeping the profits for themselves, they are not there to support the cause and aren’t worth your support. Do they hire and pay LGBTQ+ people fairly? When the month is over, will that brand continue to support the community regardless of whether it’s convenient or profitable for them?

Pride March

© vox.com

Whilst everyone loves a party and the opportunity to celebrate, it’s important to remember that Pride was not born of a need to celebrate being gay, but instead, it is a fight for the right to exist without persecution. Pride began as a riot and with injustices still taking place around the world, the fight is not over.

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Freelance writer, poet, playwright, dramaturg.