It's here. It's queer. It's the most rainbow-tinted time of the year. Ever since the Stonewall riots of 1969, communities have commemorated Pride month; a time to amplify queer voices, assert our humanity and celebrate our right to be loved and to love whomever we choose. Most importantly, Pride is a time to remember those who have fought so hard to protect the presence and rights of LGBTQIA+ people in public spaces and to recognise our intersectional experiences – no matter which letter(s) we identify with.
With some alarming events taking place both in our backyards and abroad, the sentiment of Pride month has never been more important. While we're seeing plenty of wonderful queer voices within the mainstream, queer people are still being challenged, silenced and marginalised, especially when impacted by intersectional experiences spanning race, disability, class, and age, etc.
The harmful effects of rainbow washing.
Rainbow washing refers to the practice where big brands or companies turn their logos rainbow for Pride month as a perfunctory display of allyship, without any significant support for the LGBTQIA+ community. This marketing strategy is designed to earn consumer favour by leveraging queer symbols, palettes and even our vernacular for commercial gain. The approach is especially harmful when the businesses using it are actively financing anti-LGBTQIA+ policies, politicians or propaganda. From vodka to electric cars, rainbow washing is everywhere and unless you dig deeper, or step outside of your marketing region (E.g. Have a peek at what the same brands are doing in more conservative countries), it can be challenging to call out with any real change.
How some businesses are supporting the community.
Of course, with every soulless conglomerate doing the wrong thing, there’s a whole swathe of businesses genuinely supporting the queer community. We’re talking about the businesses that actively advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights and representation, contribute to queer social enterprises and initiatives and apply genuinely inclusive processes and practises within their organisation to ensure all workers are safe from discrimination – all year ‘round. By incorporating more queer-friendly language, advertising and considered communications in their daily practices, these businesses have made a conscious-decision to demonstrate allyship, advocacy or activism that goes beyond the rainbow logos; long after Pride is over.
How to take action and amplify queer pride during pride month.
So, what can we do as individuals and as a community to actually assert our humanity and help queer communities this month? Glad you asked.
Share queer stories.
Queer love, loss, relationships, romance, identity and inspiration. The world is filled with beauty and nuance and the more we see it, the more opportunities we have to connect, listen and grow as a community. Boil the kettle and settle in with these storytellers:
Amplify queer voices.
Not all of us are born for the stage; some folks are blessed (read: skilled) with the eloquence to compel action. Here are some advocates, icons and artists that inspire us on the regular:
Support queer businesses.
Invest your time and hard-earned with queer-owned brands, businesses and companies, like:
Cute Little Fuckers
We love rainbow as much as the next person, but our advocacy doesn’t stop on July 1. If and when you see a big business leaning into the rainbow wave, we ask that you dig deeper to explore the company’s positioning on queer issues (like rights and legislation) and their presence in wider conversations around trans rights, intersectional experiences and the contributions of queer people of colour.
Prompt real change.
It’s one thing to co-opt a queer symbol for commercial gain, it’s another thing to cosplay as an ally when you overtly contribute to the ongoing harm and hindrance of the queer community. If you see a brand, corporation or company with a known history of queerphobia (E.g. anti drag storytelling) suddenly pedalling the pride palette, call it out. More importantly, call on these businesses to put their money where their mouth is, by denouncing harmful laws, legislation and politics.
Implement queer-friendly practices within your business
Consult with the queer communities about upcoming campaigns or marketing efforts, better yet, hire queer people to roll this out with you. Hire queer people and make room for our voices and experiences at the table. Consider introducing inclusivity training in your workplace and uphold a culture where diversity can actually thrive. Check out this excellent (and free downloadable) resource by anti-oppression and anti-racism training and consulting group Hue.
Demand better standards.
Queer-phobic behaviour is such a turn off. While we ask that you call it out, if and when you see it, we understand that not all environments or situations are safe to do so. If you are still educating yourself on topics of oppression or don’t feel like you have the confidence to make a stand, signing petitions and showing up for peaceful protests in solidarity with the community are some other ways to make your support known. Whether you are queer or not, if you witness name-calling, microaggressions or straight up discrimination, please stick it out and show up for the LGBTQIA+ community – because we all deserve better.
So, what is Passionfruit doing?
From loud and proud window displays to a team of staff that is welcoming of all genders and sexualities, we have been actively incorporating more queer representation and stories in our communications to reflect all of the ways our community experiences pleasure. And as pleasure-seekers, we’re ensuring that a wider representation of genders, identities and expressions of sexuality are portrayed in our original campaigns and that content spotlights all kinds of love dynamics, relationships and ways to love.
Of course, there’s always room for us to learn and grow.
So while we are continuing to update our language and approach to be as inclusive as possible when it comes to the world of self, sensuality and sex, we’d love to know what you’d like to see more of when it comes to supporting our pleasure-positive community.