So the other day my friend sent me a snapchat of a picture of shoes he saw for sale online. The shoes were black converse high tops with rainbow colors splattered and dotted over them. They were a part of Converse's new Pride Collection, and I have to say, I really liked what I saw. I love Converse shoes, and these are cute shoes. But I also am very aware of the fact that this company is pandering to me because I am a member of the LGBTQ+ Community.
Companies have been coming out and saying they're pro-LGBTQ+ for years now, and I do think that is good. Job discrimination is a major problem for the LGBTQ+ community (trans* people in particular but all across the board), and knowing that the company one works for has it in its rules that it won't discriminate people on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity is great. But I feel uncomfortable when companies produce products with rainbows or equal signs on them but won't actually do any research into what they are doing. These practices tend to further the erasure of bi and trans people from the community, and in all are disrespectful of the roots of our movement as a whole.
The kind of pandering done by companies gears towards white cisgender gay men, who are the loudest voice despite being the group within the LGBTQ+ community with the most amount of privilege. This only makes their voices louder, while everyone else, especially women, trans people and people of color, gets ignored.
This practice, known as Pink Capitalism, feels dirty to me. Pride Parades, once an act of protest, are being bought out by businesses. Companies are capitalizing on a group of us who are privileged in other ways and then continuing to manufacture more and more unnecessary goods that take away the meaning of Pride.
The point of Pride is to protest. We as a community are oppressed throughout the world. In many countries it's illegal for me to even exist. It's about looking at those who oppress us and owning up to the sins they say we are committing, and then having the audacity to say we love ourselves anyway. That is an incredibly powerful and rebellious act. It's time for Pride to return to its roots, so that we can own our community once again.