And that fight is definitely far from over. The number of transphobic hate crimes recorded by police has increased 81 percent year-on-year. Just this week, it's been revealed that LGBTQ+ workers in the UK earn an average of £6,703 less than their colleagues.
At the same time, Pride has also become –for better or worse – bigger business than ever before. New research by marketing experts Reboot Online has revealed that 29 percent of companies running a Pride campaign in 2019 have never done one in the past.
However, the research also found that only 64 percent of companies running a Pride campaign are donating to an LGBTQ+ charity – a shocking case of brands failing to put their money where their supposedly "woke" mouth is.
Olly Alexander of pop group Years and Years recently called out brands who do "the bare minimum" with their Pride tie-ins, sharing a screen-grab of an email his manager had received asking him to promote what was billed as an "amazing Pride collection".
"My manager has been getting requests like this every day, I’m guessing it was emailed out to a bunch of people, no details on what this amazing pride collection is or what this big famous brand with lots of money plan to do with any 'proceeds'," Alexander wrote. "I just…. the bare minimum approach here makes me laugh."
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my manager has been getting requests like this every day, I’m guessing it was emailed out to a bunch of people, no details on what this amazing pride collection is or what this big famous brand with lots of money plan to do with any ‘proceeds’. I just.... the bare minimum approach here makes me laugh. No matter where you stand on corporate brand-pride tie ins it’s hard not to feel this years 2019 pride collection of mouthwash, t-shirts (socks shoes jumpers glasses hats ) banks and sandwiches has felt especially icky. representation matters, of course, and corporate pride / rainbow capitalism might be hideous but at least queer people are getting paid...and....I know there are well intentioned people behind many of these campaigns but....just no. Re-doing your logo in a rainbow and ‘dOnAtInG a PoRTiOn Of pRoCeEds’ is not enough!!!!(possibly not even happening with this brand!??)) I wish brands would realize how embarrassing this kind of shit is 🤦🏼♀️
The research by Reboot Online reveals that, like Alexander, the LGBTQ+ community has mixed feelings about the way brands have embraced Pride. While 84 percent of LGBTQ+ folks said they felt positive about brands using Pride month to create an LGBTQ+ campaign, an even greater number – 89 percent – said they think at least some brands use these campaigns to sell products rather than help the queer cause.
And a massive 96 percent said brands should be more supportive of Pride all-year-round – not just during summer Pride season.
In truth, it's hard to escape the feeling that even the most cynical Pride tie-ins can be beneficial. Whether you find M&S's much-discussed "LGBT sandwich" cute or cringe, it's providing a form of pro-LGBTQ+ visibility that would have been unthinkable a decade or ago. And M&S has at least made clear that it has donated money to LGBTQ+ charities in the UK and Ireland as part of its attention-grabbing campaign.
Pride month is in full swing and we’re celebrating with our tasty twist on the classic BLT. Lettuce, guacamole, bacon and tomato – our LGBT sandwich is the perfect lunchtime treat. Donating £10,000 to @aktcharity and €1000 to @BeLonG_To, M&S is proud to celebrate Pride month. pic.twitter.com/q1kMPAJApf— M&S (@marksandspencer) June 19, 2019
But at the same time, it's surely time to raise the bar and create a new "bare minimum" for companies who want a slice of the Pride pie. All companies running a Pride campaign need to be making a donation to an LGBTQ+ charity and be completely open about how much and to whom they've given. Cashing in on Pride is inevitable and not necessarily a bad thing, but too many brands aren't doing it as responsibly and transparently as they should.