When I started Pink Robot Studios, I decided I would use my platform (what little I have) to make a difference. Every Pride Month, I’m donating 10% of profits to The Community Center, a Boise-based LGBTQ+ support nonprofit.
June 1st is no longer just the start of Pride Month. It’s also become the day marketing budgets inflate at the world’s largest corporations. The day thousands of companies’ Twitter avatars become rainbow-adorned (but mysteriously, not their Middle East region accounts). The day advertisements featuring token same-sex couples skyrocket. And the day tacky LGBTQ+-themed merchandise hits store shelves. This kind of performative activism is not what the LGBTQ+ community is asking for.
Activism is More than a Twitter Avatar
Don’t get me wrong – it’s fantastic that support of the LGBTQ+ movement has been accepted by mainstream corporations. It’s perhaps the single biggest sign that love is prevailing against hatred and bigotry. But where was this support 10 years ago, when it wasn’t yet mainstream enough to capitalize off of? And why do some companies, like AT&T, still donate to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians? The simple answer is that many corporations are in it for the profit.
Chris Stedman, LGBTQ+ activist and author of IRL, states, “While it may be comforting to some, it also makes a lot of other LGBTQ feel like we’re valued only because the sands have shifted, and that is the only reason we’re worth celebrating…it’s as if we’re not even worth actually getting to know.”
However, there are some incredible companies who are giving back to the brave people we celebrate every June. Below are some of my favorite examples of companies who have shown real support for the LGBTQ+ community.
Old Navy’s Project WE launched in January 2021 as a way to highlight diversity in art. The company collaborated with artists from multicultural backgrounds to create a line of clothing that celebrates love and equality, including shirts that celebrate Black History Month and Pride.
In addition, Old Navy has been a staunch supporter of LGBTQ+ rights since 2011, when they launched their first Pride collection. They’ve donated on multiple occasions to LGBTQ+ causes and boys and girls’ clubs across America. Old Navy sets a fantastic example of what corporations can do to genuinely make a difference in our communities.
In a bold move, Skittles ditches all colors on its packaging and the candies themselves every Pride Month. The iconic rainbow is replaced with pure grey, in a move Skittles says is “to celebrate the only rainbow that matters” during Pride Month. In 2022, the company worked with six LGBTQ+ artists to design limited edition packaging. The new packages contain a QR code that takes visitors to pride.skittles.com, a new site that highlights the artists and their work.
Crucially, the candy is still the same price, and $1 from every purchase is donated to GLAAD. Skittles goes beyond just changing their Twitter avatar, running an incredibly creative campaign highlighting LGBTQ+ artists and supporting their causes. Plus, I just love Skittles.
And now, my favorite example: Dr. Martens (does anybody actually call them that?) has been a supporter of Pride Month for many years. For the sixth year in a row, Doc Martens is donating $200,000 to The Trevor Project, a nonprofit LGBTQ+ counseling resource. In addition, special-edition Pride boots are back in stock, the company is hosting Pride Parties and drag shows at its stores, and video content highlighting LGBTQ+ issues has been produced for their YouTube channel featuring real community leaders.
Check out the Pride section of their website, it’s really cool. Also, I own Doc Martens, and those things are indestructible. Highly recommended.
Pride Month is a celebration of everything the LGBTQ+ community has been working towards for over 50 years. I’m incredibly happy to have so many friends who identify as members of the community, and to be in a position where I can help bring them the equality they deserve. Happy Pride Month everybody! 🏳🌈