P is for Pride and Profit: LGBTQ Reflection on Major Companies ‘Pride Collections’

Hayley O'Brien, Contributing Writer

In recent years, most intensely in 2019, companies’ attempts at Pride collections have begun to endure heavy scrutiny for various reasons. Their goal of profit has always been clear due to high prices set on pride-affiliated items created with a lack of knowledge and awareness of the true struggles and goals of the LGBTQ community over the years. However, the greedy profit-driven aspects fueling the companies’ futile attempts at stylish and supportive pride ware has recently become less of the main focus and is now one of a large handful of factors of the discontent over so-called Pride collections. The most pressing issue for members of the community in 2021 is the wish for a company to make genuinely inclusive, knowledgeable, and cost-effective clothing while supporting the community within the process. The most important thing during Pride month is the reflection on the growth and the equality of those who are members of the community and just how proud watching their flag be carelessly plastered on a $20 shirt makes someone feel.

In 2019 many articles were published under connotations similar to one another, that Pride was being turned into yet another chance at identifying a target audience for big corporations. The concept of selling “pride” to those who had lacked representation lead some to feel as if there was a change occurring in the safety and acceptance of the minorities in the LGBTQ domain; however, it is important to remember change only occurred when Pride became away to make a profit in a time where no other major holiday or events were already held. As long as companies had no other big events to cater to already they would scoop up the chance for profit, and the tactic caught on quickly. It is an awful feeling to know that the promise of money to big corporations can lead to a reduction in media oppression of communities who had struggled for years, as well as a false sense of hope for those who expected true evolution in the topic.

Now, in 2021, the problem has become less about the money and more about the content. The main focus of most commercial Pride collections are the flags for various groups in the LGBTQ community. Due to the higher population of identifying individuals for certain identities and flags, the parts of the communities that are most common are the only things represented. It is a popularity contest amongst the members of the community to gain any sort of access to inclusion. Emersyn O’Brien, a non-binary individual, notes, “A lot of companies use the rainbow as a sort of blanket statement to show they support LGBTQ+ efforts but a lot of them aren’t educated past the rainbow.” Statements like these prove the lack of value companies have in the actual concept of pride causing the ability to claim inclusivity to fall away when only three flags are constantly represented. These flags being the gay, bisexual, and transgender flag. Any other flag that is used seems to be thrown in for wild card points, without any kind of accurate description or representation. It’s not about growth if no one is learning anything and is not inclusive if not even the community is represented.

As for the response to the content produced in the Pride collections, there is certainly a large fraction of the LGBTQ community who would rather give their feedback than their money. Recently on the social media platform ‘Tik Tok’ videos have been circulating in which creators share their opinions on this year’s released pride content. Creator Kelsey Kaminari has over 215k views on a video reviewing Target’s 2021 Pride Collection and she shared her point of view.“[Kaminari feels] like a lot of big corporations don’t make the effort to consult with queer voices…” Other creators, and non-public individuals, have shared Kelsey’s views on just how uneducated these companies seem. A young working-class individual, Justin Maring, who identifies within the LGBTQ collective suggests, “If they [companies working on Pride collections] truly wanted to show their support for the LGBT community, in my opinion, they need to go about it a different way… Give a brief history lesson to explain the sacrifices and injustice instead of just rebranding themselves for a month.” No matter what they do or where they come from a large portion of the LGBTQ family all seem to agree it would feel more supportive and genuine if the community was either consulted or at least listened to regarding the items marketed towards queer demographics.

Even with countless problems being brought to the attention through media over the persistent issues with the presented Pride collections little reform has occurred over the years. Though some brands have become more involved or at least more educated on the matter, very few have been bold enough to admit past ignorance and adjust accordingly. However, the words of the queer community grow stronger each day and so does their power. The views of a community can sway the way the world works. It is possible that if companies do not change the way their so-called ‘supportive tactics’ operate the LGBTQ family will begin to push back, maybe a little harder than expected.