Supporting the queer community means activism outside of Pride Month, as well as sustained support in the community. (Image via WHYY)

As Pride Month winds down to a close, it’s time to think about where your money is going when you buy from superficially LGBTQ-supportive companies. It’s easy for a corporation to adopt an attitude of inclusivity during Pride in order to make itself seem more open-minded and with the times. Many companies put flags in their windows or release limited-edition products, both of which are well and good, but how much does it really benefit the LGBTQ community?

This past month, McDonald’s offered the same fries as always, but with a twist: a rainbow colored carton. Burger King has a similar marketing scheme — it wrapped its basic burger in rainbow paper and called it the “Proud Whopper.” Bloomingdale’s, Adidas, H&M, Nike and Lululemon (and many, many more) all included a Pride section of their merchandise or advertised their support with signage.

The Pride support is there for the celebrations, for sure, but these companies wouldn’t put on quite the show year-round should their endorsement of LGBTQ causes face scrutiny.

In many ways, Pride has become an opportunity for monetary gain. Companies eager for that important “ally” label do what it takes to win a place on the list of Pride supporters. Their rationale gives the impression of being less genuine, however, when you remember that these are major corporations that, at the end of the day, really just need to make money.

In the face of such an important event being commercialized just as most holidays have been, it’s important to remember how Pride month started. In 1969, a gay bar called The Stonewall Inn became the site of the Stonewall Riots. The riots lasted four nights and were the result of LGBTQ patrons (primarily those of color) fighting back against police harassment. One year later, the first Pride march marked the anniversary of the fight for LGBTQ rights.

Given the important history of Pride, it’s disappointing to see so many companies seek a profit on the politics of the LGBTQ community. Luckily, there are many corporations that see Pride as a year-round aspect of life that doesn’t wane in importance when it falls out of the news.

According to OpenInvest.com, some of the top U.S. companies boasting optimal LGBTQ rights in the workplace include Chevron, Disney, Estee Lauder, Goldman Sachs and AT&T.

Google has teamed up with non-profit LGBTQ organizations that promote equality in the workplace, and Coca-Cola has a perfect score on the Corporate Equality Index, as well as standing as one of the first companies to support the UN’s new standards for LGBTQ rights.

It’s perfectly fine for Pride Month to spur companies on to support the LGBTQ community, but there are right and wrong ways of going about it. Instead of flying a flag in the window and calling it Pride, why not take a page out of Urban Outfitters’ book and pair up with a member of the community to create a clothing line whose proceeds go to an LGBTQ cause? Or make like Equinox and team up with an LGBTQ community center to educate the neighborhood?

The right way to support Pride is just as easy as printing out a rainbow is, and has a far more positive and lasting effect on the LGBTQ community.

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