Typically, June is full of parades and marches in celebration of Pride Month, but this year the majority of in-person Pride events have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic that’s been shutting down normal life across the globe.
Fortunately, just because in-person events are canceled doesn’t mean all Pride events are. Some Pride events in larger U.S. cities, like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, have been moved online, so people can participate from their own homes. Several LGBTQ+ organizations have also come together to create Global Pride 2020, a 24-hour online Pride event scheduled for June 27 that features organizations, politicians and celebrities from around the world.
Although many aspects of this year’s Pride Month look different, one in particular has remained the same: commercialization. Each year during the month of June, it seems that every big brand releases a line of rainbow-themed merchandise in support of Pride and the LGBTQ+ community.
The commercialization of Pride has only become more prevalent as general support for the LGBTQ+ community increases, but many brands don’t actually support the LGBTQ+ community in practice.
Some brands do donate a portion of their profits to LGBTQ+ charities, but they don’t always make it clear how much is being given. A survey by Reboot Online of 122 companies with Pride campaigns found that only 64% of them donated to LGBTQ+ causes.
Companies that donate some proceeds from their Pride merchandise are arguably better than those who do nothing, but regardless, support for the LGBTQ+ community seems to completely disappear from large companies’ agendas by the end of June.
If you’re interested in supporting the LGBTQ+ community by shopping this Pride Month, make sure you’re buying from brands that actually represent and support the community all year long, not just when it’s trendy. One of the easiest ways to do that is to buy from LGBTQ+ owned brands, so here are a list of five you can shop from to show year-round support.
This LGBTQ+ owned brand was founded in 2013 by partners Fran Dunaway, a long-standing advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, and Naomi Gonzalez. They created the idea for a brand of underwear that “any body could feel comfortable in, regardless of where they fell on the size or gender spectrum.”
Since 2013, TomboyX has expanded from underwear to include collections of bras, sleepwear, socks, swimwear and accessories, all while following the same philosophy of making clothes that aren’t restricted by size or gender identity. The sections on their website are not separated into gendered categories, and their clothing sizes range from S to 4X.
TomboyX also gives back to the LGBTQ+ community, and since 2018, the brand has donated over $100,000 to various causes, all of which are listed on their website. This June they are specifically donating to organizations that support Black Lives Matter as well as LGBTQ+ bailout funds.
If you’re more interested in buying new makeup instead of clothing, you should check out Fluide. The LGBTQ+ owned makeup brand was founded by Laura Kraber and Isabella Giancarlo, who wanted to create a brand that celebrated gender expression and the queer community.
Fluide sells products ranging from lipstick and eyeliner to glitter and nail polish. All of their products are cruelty-free and marketed to people of all gender identities using models that represent their commitment to diversity in the makeup industry.
For this year’s Pride Month, they’re selling the limited edition Proud Together Set, featuring a T-shirt designed by queer designer Thaddeus Coates, Fluide’s Pride Aura glitter and their Universal Gloss. The company will donate 10% of the sales from their Pride collection to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, a nonprofit that supports Black transgender people.
Stuzo Clothing is operated by two queer women of color, Stoney Michelli and Uzo Ejikeme. They prefer to call their clothing “gender free” because “clothes don’t have any organs,” and they aim to “create a space in the fashion world where all are welcome without judgment.”
On their website you can find T-shirts, hoodies, jackets, crop-tops and pants, as well as accessories like hats, face masks and coffee mugs. They offer lots of classic graphic tees with phrases like “woman up,” “gender free” and “free by nature,” and the prices of all their products are in the $30 to $60 range, making them fairly affordable.
4. Boy Smells
For another step away from clothing companies, this LGBTQ+ owned brand primarily makes candles, although they do have a line of intimate apparel as well. Boy Smells was founded in 2016 by partners Matthew Herman and David Kien, who “wanted to have products that were embracing masculine and feminine simultaneously.”
Going along with that mission statement, Boy Smells has created unique scented candles that blend traditionally masculine and feminine scents together. Their candles all come in pastel, minimalistic jars that make them 100% Insta-worthy and are sold in over 300 retail stores in addition to their own online shop.
Boy Smells’ current Pride collection contains six different candles. Purchases from the collection contribute to the company’s $26,500 donation to the Trevor Project, an organization that supports LGBTQ+ youth.
Similar to TomboyX and Stuzo Clothing, the Phluid Project is an LGBTQ+ owned clothing brand that focuses on making clothes that are completely gender-free. The company was founded by Rob Smith, who worked as a retail executive for over 30 years before deciding to combine his dedication to helping marginalized young people with his passion for retail and clothing.
On their website, you can find clothing, skin care, makeup, accessories and books from a variety of other brands as well as their own. The Phluid Project’s own in-house brand has a Pride collection containing T-shirts, face masks, tote bags and socks, and 20% of sales from the collection will be donated.