pride over profit

On May 31, President Donald Trump made history as the first Republican president to recognize LGBTQ Pride Month, 50 years after the Stonewall Riots in 1969 and 20 years after Pride Month’s inception in 1999. Trump may have recognized Pride Month, but unlike the catchy refrain of Smash Mouth’s “All Star,” all that glitters isn’t gold.

 

His tweet called for the recognition of LGBTQ contributions as well as the decriminalization of homosexuality. The tweet oozes with insincerity — if you think it’s genuine, ask yourself why it’s Trump’s third year in office but only his first time mentioning Pride Month.

It was a poor attempt at reaching out to an LGBTQ audience in hopes of 

gaining favor before the 2020 election. I mean, if Trump’s insincerity isn’t made clear to you by his failure to mention the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, it’s well known that he and his entire administration in no way care about LGBTQ rights. All you have to do is take a look at Vice President Mike Pence’s 

political stances to hear it loud and clear.

 

Pence has allegedly supported conversion therapy, and though he has now 

opposed that stance, I wouldn’t be quick to classify him as anything other 

than a homophobe. He has publicly voiced opposition to same-sex marriage and endorsed anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBTQ Americans.

 

Moreover, Trump personally barred trans people from serving in the military. Similarly, his administration has argued in federal court cases that the Civil Rights Act does not disallow discrimination against sexual orientation or gender identity. Even worse, his administration recently proposed a rule which allows federally funded homeless shelters to refuse people simply for being trans or gender nonconforming. The list goes on.

 

Simply put, it’s clear as day that Trump thought a tweet could make the community forget all he’s done to undo the progress of the 

gay liberation movement that Pride Month celebrates. They may sell a rainbow-colored “Make America Great Again” hat, but the Trump administration is just another entity that tries to profit off the community.

 

Trump’s hypocritical tweets are consistent with a long trend of corporations exploiting Pride Month to pander to the community.

 

To drive sales in the month of June, corporations take advantage of the 

community by releasing limited-edition rainbow and other LGBTQ-themed items to make a profit while a portion of sales goes to whatever cause. While that seems nice in theory, it’s simply unacceptable for multi-million 

and billion dollar companies to give less than 25 percent of sales to an LGBTQ cause when they are profiting off its name. I think brands like Disney could stand to donate more than 10 percent of the profit they make off their Pride themed merchandise.

 

But that’s not to say that all companies releasing limited-edition merchandise  in the month of June are taking advantage of the community. Harry’s, a razor company, released limited-edition rainbow chrome razors and are donating 100% of profits to the Trevor Project, an organization that provides support to suicidal LGBTQ youth. Brands like IKEA and Levi’s have historically been allies and are also respectively donating 100 percent of profits to The 

Human Rights Campaign Foundation and OutRight Action International. In 1994, IKEA released the first ever TV commercial featuring a gay couple 

on national television, and in 1992, Levi’s became the first Fortune 500 company to provide same-sex partner benefits.

 

But June isn’t the only time the LGBTQ community exists. Another effective way to support the community without pandering or patronizing is to argue for their representation and rights the other 11 months of the year.

 

In March, DC Comics announced they casted a transmasculine, deaf, Jewish 

person of color artist Chella Man to play Jericho, a hero who had his vocal cords cut and therefore uses sign language, in season 2 of “Titans.” In hiring a transmasculine man to portray a cis-male hero, DC took a stance as an ally and started a discussion about intersectional representation of the 

community.

 

Similarly, Elite Model Management promoted inclusivity and proved itself an ally when they casted Aaron Philip, a black trans woman with cerebral palsy in a wheelchair in September 2018.

 

There’s no problem with making LGBTQ-themed products or discussing LGBTQ issues in the month of June — as long as the source is authentic and 

actually seeking to help the community.

 

It’s hard to see Pride Month — a month of celebration and remembrance for the community’s wins and losses —  diluted for a political or financial gain. Our community and allies need to remain vigilant and critical of Pride Month catfish and allocate our support and attention to brands and individuals that are in it for the long haul. 

 

Elli Korn is a 19-year-old mass communication junior from Dallas, Texas. 

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