Is a Tweet of Support Enough for Pride Month?
By: Ben Davis
It’s Pride month and we’ve all seen it: companies modifying their logos to include a rainbow flag, tweeting their support for the LGBTQ community, and other seemingly meaningless gestures. With them always follows criticism claiming that it’s merely an act of virtue signaling and that companies are only doing it in the interest of profit. These claims are probably, if not certainly, true.
American Airlines is one of the many companies incorporating the LGBT pride flag in their promotional material.
Yet, there’s a tad too much cynicism towards this topic. We see it for just about any social movement. Companies tend to take safe stances on controversial topics so as to not alienate their consumer base, so for them to even symbolically support a movement legitimizes its ideals because, for better or worse, corporations hold tremendous influence over our society. For corporations, driven by profit not necessarily morality, to determine that being pro-LGBTQ, pro-Black Lives Matter, pro-anything is a safe stance to take, is a testament to progress.
In just 2008, Connecticut fully legalized same-sex marriage following the Connecticut Supreme Court’s ruling on Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health. In 2015 same-sex marriage was recognized on a federal level as a result of Obergefell v. Hodges. These are incredibly recent developments, and there are more hurdles to face. They are simultaneously monumental legislation and surface-level relative to what is yet to be done as LGBTQ people lack comprehensive federal protection from discrimination in housing, education, and employment. Hence, the importance of support for the cause, regardless of where it comes from. If a sliver of that support comes from mega corporations sending a tweet, so be it. It’s a net positive. The reality is that despite outstanding progress for LGBTQ rights, there’s still discrimination and miseducation living in the U.S. and the rest of the world. Leveraging influential companies to support the cause may be worthwhile.
At the end of the day for corporations, it is ultimately about appealing to customers. You’re unlikely to find the same pink capitalism in regions where LGBTQ people face widespread intolerance. Therefore, it’s not wrong to accuse companies of hypocrisy, virtue-signaling, or showering them with criticism.
At worst, the logos are an empty gesture. Investing in disenfranchised and underrepresented communities is far more effective than a symbolic temporary logo. That being said, logos should not be a priority issue when more pressing matters, like addressing the religious biases often held against the LGBTQ community and legislative discrimination. Perhaps channeling some corporate capital into lobbying in favor of the Equality Act, federal legislation that would prohibit discrimination on grounds of gender identity and sexual orientation, is a more worthy cause.