On June 28th, 1969 the movement for LGBT rights began with a series of violent demonstrations that followed a raid on the Stonewall Inn, a known gay bar in Greenwich Village of Manhattan, New York City. Over the past 48 years, what was once a somber march that often resulted in violent reactions from onlookers and imprisonment for participants, has turned into one of the biggest parties of the year in many cities all over the world highlighted by the pride parade.
During Pride celebrations in major cities, almost everywhere you look mass-produced-rainbow- everything floods the streets, restaurants, bars, and virtually every shop front in the area. The parade is now flooded with giant logos of corporations seeking to cash in on the grandiosity that the festival has become.
Naturally, the bigger the event, the more money needed. Corporate sponsors provide the funds to host events on a massive scale, but is it possible that the true message of Pride is being lost to the commercial interests of its corporate sponsors? That commercial interests are in fact mitigating what generations of repressed individuals fought so hard to achieve?
A large corporation that chooses to sponsor Pride may appear progressive, and in appearing this way may divert interest from human or economic rights violations where they are involved.
Last year in New York City, official sponsorship of Pride reached $1.7 million, with corporate giants T-Mobile and Walmart occupying the top tier as presenting sponsors. It is well known that that Walmart has not only been accused of exploitive labor in foreign countries, but has been accused of violating worker rights in the U.S. as well.
Of course, it would be unfair to point the finger solely at corporations for seeking to profit from what was once an angry demonstration. According to a Forbes article, a marketing firm that specializes in the gay marketplace estimated that the purchasing power of the adult LGBT population in the U.S. was $884 billion in 2014.
It’s safe to say that there are a whole lot of people profiting from this celebration that many forget wasn’t even possible just two generations ago. The importance of the struggle is being lost to corporations and commercial greed.
Pride is about remembering what wasn’t possible until recently, and thinking about what can be accomplished to support the LBGT community on a global scale. By allowing the marriage of Pride to giant corporations, not only is the original message being forgotten, but so is the fact that homosexuality is still punishable by imprisonment and even death in over 70 different countries. It is important to remember that there is still work to be done instead of funding an often alcoholic, sexualized celebration that no longer has any powerful human rights motive.
The Pride parade is a perfect example of how over marketing or over branding can sometimes result in the loss of the original message or identity.
Sarah Rose Birge is a Content Editor and Community Manager with Mijo! Brands, a leading creative digital marketing agency with offices in CDMX and Puerto Vallarta, visit us at www.mijobrands.com or contact us.