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Friday, May 22, 2015


During Pride this year, you may have noticed something alarming and I’m not talking about the meth-fueled gang bang in the back room of whatever circuit party you may have attended. During this season we were supposed to be celebrating what sets us apart from the rest of society, glorying in our inherent otherness and our refusal to conform, we were inundated with advertising marketed specifically towards gays and lesbians from some of the largest corporations in the country as they attempted to lead us back into the general populace of mindless consumers. These corporations pat themselves on the back for making the largest strides towards equality by promoting inclusiveness and providing protections for their LGBT employees. But do they really see us as their equals, or just another market to tap?

This year alone saw a plethora of highly problematic and emotionally manipulative advertising aimed at gays to make us feel like we’re just like everyone else and we’re so similar, in fact, that we can buy all the same products straight people do, too! Burger King introduced the Proud Whooper last year. You probably saw videos about it all over your Facebook newsfeed as friends alternately praised it as an act of loving equality or lambasted it as a clear act of opportunistic click-baiting. The Proud Whooper was no different from a regular Whopper, except for its rainbow packaging and the message inside its wrapper that read, “We are all the same inside.” Apple created an LGBT iTunes radio station and curated a special collection of LGBT movies on the iTunes store. Kenneth Cole sold limited-edition T-shirts with the Human Rights Campaign logo on them. Nike also released a capsule collection, the #BeTrue apparel line, to celebrate the LGBT community. Marriott International released their #LoveTravels campaign, with prominent queer spokespeople in their ads.

What does all this mean? It means that equality is great, as long as we’re equally willing to buy a product or service. Sure, we’re all the same inside; we’re all consumers. At this year’s Pride March, the ads and sponsorships will be overwhelming. How do these corporations and financial institutions have any place in our celebration of queerness?

We should be celebrating corporations, according to the Human Right’s Campaign, who sent out a press release praising America’s companies for their LGBT-specific advertising, claiming that this proves that these companies are on the forefront of the fight for equality. This is the same HRC that has distanced itself from leftist queer movements. In 2012, the organization was protested by Occupy Wall Street’s Queer/LGBTIQA2Z caucus, a group that opposed the Human Rights Campaign’s decision to honor Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein at their annual gala in New York. Blankfein has spoken out in favor of gay marriage, but the queer Occupy group condemned the HRC’s alignment with a banking giant that was so intimately involved in the factors leading to the Great Recession and the erosion of the American middle class. To paraphrase queer occupier Jeffrey Marx, the HRC’s vision of equality increasingly seems to be that everyone who can afford a country club membership is equal.

And it seems like corporate America’s vision of equality may be, “Everyone can buy our products.”

Having big corporations on our side is useful, sure. Money talks; it buys influence. Every corporate dollar that goes toward an LGBT-friendly candidate or cause is helpful. The problem occurs when we forget that Big Business isn’t necessarily in the social justice business. The more corporate money that organizations like HRC accept, the more beholden they become to corporate interests, and the more likely they are to distance themselves from truly progressive movements for total equality for all not just the wealthy and palatable few. Do we really want Fortune 500 companies shaping the future tenor of the gay rights agenda?


  1. Well, definitely, we gays are considered by purchasing power and consumption. The problem is how we want to be respected . highest bidder , bid more ? Today, the humanity speaks a lot about power and consumerism. How living in a world increasingly consumist? I don't want to be respected only for my money .



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