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It’s Pride Month, and if we didn’t know it already, big brands are more than happy to let us know with new logos, merch, and more. We love to see communities uniting together to celebrate and amplify the voices of LGBTQ folks, but it isn’t always sincere. It’s important for us to take a closer look at which companies and organizations are actually supporting the queer community, and which are just rainbow washing.

You’ve likely heard of greenwashing and maybe even pinkwashing for breast cancer awareness, and now there’s rainbow washing. Rainbow washing is when brands use LGBTQ signifiers like rainbow flags in their marketing or products to indicate support for LGBTQ equality without actually taking action. It can also include using queer creators in advertising without paying them fairly.

Supporting organizations that rainbow wash can take away real support from companies that truly support queer issues, so it’s important to know what to look out for. Here are a few ways to spot rainbow washing in the wild and help sift through the facade of pride branding and promotions:

  • The company:
    • Only supports or discusses the LGBTQ community during June
    • Has a Pride collection, but only during Pride Month (and then discounts heavily afterwards)
    • Does not compensate or underpays queer talent
    • Doesn’t donate to queer organizations
    • Supports anti-LGBTQ politicians, organizations, and legislature 

Being transparent is key. If a business or organization is doing amazing things, they’ll want to tell the world. Take it from us! 

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