Major retailers across the country are celebrating Pride month by selling clothing and other merchandise that honor LGBTQ culture, marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.
Vendors are joining the commemoration of Pride month with diversified offers and campaigns to raise money for different organizations that support the LGBTQ cause.
Throughout June, digital billboards at Times Square have been advertising pride-related apparel and cosmetics sold in nearby stores like Levi’s, Sephora, and CoverGirl while the windows at Macy’s flagship store have been featuring rainbow colors.
A bunch of other stores is riding the Pride wave – but whose interest are they aiding? Is their activism truly geared toward improving the welfare of the LGBTQ community, or could it be interpreted as just a marketing stunt, intended to raise brand awareness and boost profits?
Who is raising funds? For which organizations?
Ralph Lauren has designed a five-piece, gender-neutral clothing collection to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. The selection includes t-shirts, totes, hats, hoodies, and polo shirts. All the proceeds from t-shirts sold, as well as 50% of all the other items, will be donated to the Stonewall Community Foundation.
Disney is commemorating Pride month 2019 with a Rainbow Disney Collection that features Mickey Mouse ears, backpacks, stuffed animals and other items. The conglomerate is giving 10% of profits made on these products in June to GLSEN, an education organization working to make schools around the country a safe and inclusive environment for LGBTQ students.
MAC is also showing its appreciation for the LGBTQ community. Apart from selling its popular Viva Glam lipstick that’s been raising funds to help those living with HIV/AIDS for 25 years, the makeup company rolled out an exclusive collection to honor the 50th anniversary of the LGBTQ rights movement. Customers who spend more than $25 on products from this collection will get a free rainbow bag. In addition to this, the cosmetics company will donate $500,000 to GLAAD, a non-profit legal rights organization that fights discrimination.
Stonewall Inn Uprising
Before supporting the LGBTQ community became a profitable and popular endeavor among retailers, somebody had to stand up for their rights.
In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, the police raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, but instead of taking the hits, gay men and drag queens fought back. Thus began the four-day riots which set the U.S. gay rights movement in motion.
“Major corporations have turned LGBT struggles into marketing moments to make themselves look good,” a longtime New York gay activist Bill Dobbs said to NBC. “The modern movement for gay rights was jump-started by Stonewall, and it’s still a battle for the lives of LGBT people — not about selling trinkets and clothes with rainbow colors. They’re a distraction.”
Even in the very likely scenario where the motivation behind retailers’ involvement in the LGBTQ movement is self-promotion, it is reassuring to know that the community is getting the funds it needs to continue its battle for acceptance and equality.