You would seriously have to be living under a rock for the last month and not noticed rainbows taking over everything from the Google home screen to your Uber app. No, there isn’t a new holiday celebrating the mystical leprechaun guarding his pot o’ gold; June is LGBTQIA+ Pride month! As a gay blasian living in America, this is kind of a big deal. Growing up, there weren’t many role models for me and being gay (or mixed race for that matter) was not very celebrated outside of played out tropes on TV. However, in recent years, there has been a surge in LGBTQIA+ representation in basically all corners of the fashion and entertainment industries. Hell, even one of the 100 people running for President is campaigning with his husband!
However, with all of the mainstream attention, there has also been a rush to cash in on Pride. Basically every company from Todd Snyder (through his collab with Champion) to Adidas to Harry’s has special Pride related products to tie-into the festivities this month. Some are simply more fashionable than others, but the rainbow is front and center in order to show support for the community. However, I ask myself the question, what am I supporting? While it is all well and good to buy the Adidas Continental 80s with a rainbow motif, where is your hard earned money going? Are the proceeds of the product sales making their way to LGBTQIA+ organizations? Or will these products simply fall onto the sale rack after Pride month concludes?
However, one can show their support for Pride for more than clothes. Now, you can even have the soundtrack of Pride pumping through your veins. Musical artists from across the board have been scrambling to become the next icon of the gay community and, last week, the latest artist to join the fight was none other than Taylor Swift. The ex-country pop star has famously been apolitical until a couple years ago, but now she seems very comfortable sharing her political and social views with the world. With the drop of her music video for her latest single You Need to Calm Down, she tried to create the next gay anthem. And that’s where she went so wrong. She cluttered the video with every gay media personality from stage to screen and pranced from frame to frame in rainbow everything. It was a bizarre and forced attempt to appeal to a group that is finally acknowledged as the cultural tour-de-force that it always was.
For all the positive goodwill that comes from greater visibility and greater acceptance, there needs to be a reckoning with the sad truths. The fact is that the commoditization of Pride muddies the message and steers away from the core idea behind the celebration. The emphasis on teaching people about the individuals and icons who struggled to get us to this point has taken a back seat to corporate sponsored floats and scantily clad men peddling rainbow covered products on Instagram. So instead of simply buying a rainbow adorned shoe or t-shirt, maybe consider what that rainbow actually means, who put it there, and why it matters.
And, perhaps, wear it other days than simply to your local parade or Pride brunch.