June is Pride month, which means companies, brands, and organizations are breaking out their rainbow merch and calls for tolerance and acceptance.
But wait. Before you get excited and buy those rainbow shades or head out to your local Pride festival, please take these things into consideration.
It is no secret that this year has been tough for queer folks, especially those in the midwest and south. There were over 400 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in state legislatures in 2023, mostly aimed at trans and gender-nonconforming youth – the most vulnerable of the queer community.
During Pride month, we see a lot of performative allyship, also known as “rainbow washing.” Performative allyship and rainbow washing is where those with privilege profess solidarity with a cause, but don’t engage in any meaningful action or change.
Performative allyship is putting on the rainbow shirt or or dancing at the gay club, but not using your power or privilege to actually create the conditions for or demand full equality for the LGBTQ community.
During this Pride month, avoid and look out for these signs of performative allyship – and think about how you can help create meaningful change for your LGBTQ neighbors, friends, and family members.
Businesses - before you create that rainbow merch or table at your local Pride festival, think about the role you played while the LGBTQ community was under attack. Did your business speak out? Did you offer support or resources to LGBTQ organizations?
If not, then think twice about how you can meaningfully support your local queer community. There may be a LGBTQ Business Roundtable or other group of businesses who show up and demonstrate the harmful economic impacts of discriminatory laws. You can join this group or, if there isn’t one, start conversations with your fellow business owners and leaders about how you can stand up and step up – all year, not just in June.
Additionally, make sure you are supporting your queer employees. Here are some ways to ensure workplace inclusion for your LGBTQ employees.
Organizations - it may be tempting to ask your local queer organization to provide a speaker, or table at your event, or send over information during June, but please remember – June is the busiest month for queer organizations. They are usually managing a thousand community events, managing hundreds of volunteers, and trying to keep their heads above water.
Instead, reach out later this summer and ask how you can support their work and build a meaningful collaboration. Use June to educate your community and the populations you serve about how the attacks on the queer community are harmful for the community at-large. And then think about how your organization uses its power to highlight how queer people are part of your community and worthy of love and acceptance.
Individuals - Pride is a good time! Don’t get me wrong. It’s my favorite. And I recognize it is often the only exposure straight people and families have to queer culture. But before you grab all that gay swag at Pride fest or change your Facebook pic to don a rainbow ribbon, think about how you supported the queer community this year.
Did you check in regularly with your queer friends and family, especially those in the impacted states? Did you contact your lawmakers to share your outrage at the terrible bills introduced? Did you share your disbelief with your colleagues, neighbors, friends, and family members?
If you didn’t do these things, please think twice before celebrating Pride. And pledge to take meaningful action for your queer friends and family. And, of course, donate to your state and local queer orgs.