Rainbow-washing (also known as pink-washing) is something you will have seen a lot of during pride month. It is the term given to corporations that give the appearance of supporting Pride by splashing rainbows over their storefronts, do little to support the LGBT community. These businesses aim to profit from the LGBT community, without necessarily fostering LGBT inclusive policies, or even hiding homophobic behaviour happening in their organisation.
While having visibility is important and setting the high street ablaze with the rainbow does allow that, there are different ways to go about it. Selling a tee-shirt with a pride logo and solely benefiting by keeping all of the profits may be seen as just jumping on the bandwagon and not in the spirit of true ally-ship. However, donating the proceeds to an organisation that helps the LGBT community, like The Trevor Project, or one of the numerous organisations on this link, does show true ally-ship and sends a message of solidarity.
Similarly, if the business has been shown to be homophobic in the past but is happy to take profits off from the queer community because it is on trend, this is tone deaf and hypocritical. Businesses should be working year round to ensure their employment policies foster inclusion and diversity. It should challenge anti LGBT behaviour and not be proponents of it. It should take a consistent position with its morality on equality and can even take steps throughout the year to work with grassroots or international organisations against homophobia to really make a difference.
Next time we purchase that burger in new rainbow packaging or the tee-shirt with the phase ‘Love Wins’, it may be worthwhile looking into the companies values before we pull out our wallets so we can choose to purchase elsewhere.
There are companies you can shop at proudly for the efforts they make in helping the LGBT community. A percentage of profits made by The Pink Triangle and The Spark Company (I can personally attest to the quality of their clothing) goes towards LGBT and charity organisations, which would make that tee shirt feel all the more brighter and ethical when you don it at Pride.
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