Reflections on Brands "Celebrating" Pride

This year, it seems more brands than ever are participating in Pride celebrations with product releases.  The part that has struck me as a little out-of-sorts and unexpected has been the lack of charitable components and meaningful ties to the LGBTQIA+ community.

This June marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, which is often considered the “birth of the modern LGBT movement” (GLAAD, Sage).  New York City announced it would commemorate transgender activists “Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, two icons of the LGBTQ civil rights movement, with monuments” located “just blocks away from the historical Stonewall Inn” (The Trevor Project).  Celebrating the progress, milestones, and victories achieved since the Stonewall uprising are part of Pride, but as The Trevor Project notes:

In the grand scheme of things, the Stonewall Uprising wasn’t that long ago. This year, we commemorate its 50th anniversary. Many who were there are with us today. On the other hand, the systemic issues that led to the uprising still exist in the present: discrimination, rejection, and inequality all contribute to disproportionate struggles with mental health for LGBTQ youth today.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers, and up to 50 percent of all trans people have made a suicide attempt, many before the age of 25. It’s clear there’s still a long way to go.

With World Pride on the horizon, along with the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, we have much to reflect on. In that process, let’s remember the importance of stories, both from our past and from our present, from our iconic civil rights leaders to the LGBTQ youth who don’t feel safe enough to come out. When we tell our stories, and we are heard, we win.”

The Trevor ProjectThe Importance of Stories

The LGBTQIA+ community has made great strides forward in the last 50 years, and Pride is a time where people can come together and celebrate who they are, the progress they have made, and find support and strength within a safe space. There’s still more work to be done as there is continued discrimination, harassment, and violence against LGBTQIA+ throughout the world. 

It’s important to keep in mind that the rights of LGBTQIA+ are not the same in every country (example: Taiwan became the first in Asia to recognize same-sex marriages in May of this year, while Pride festivals are even banned in some countries per and some are fighting just for the ability to live without fear of being killed, as some countries use the death penalty for same-sex sexual activity (see Wikipedia’s LGBT rights by country or territory).  In the US, LGBTQIA+ rights have come under attack over the last few years with various proposals and moves to roll back protections that have been particularly aimed at transgender people.

When I discussed with Temptalia readers about the prevalence of Pride products this year (and many lacking charitable components) in our Discord, there was a sense of feeling invisible, unimportant, or forgotten, especially in light of some of the other issues the beauty community has called out in the past; they felt the support was not there.

I want the feelings of LGBTQIA+ to be heard, seen, and felt, so I hope that I can be a good ally by inviting them into and providing the space for them to 1) feel safe to share their feelings and 2) reach the Temptalia community because I know we have a fantastic, supportive and accepting community here that includes readers who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community and those who are allies.  I reached out to readers through our Discord as well as through Twitter and kept my email available so that people could also submit anonymously.

Here’s what I asked (check out Twitter for the full conversation + all replies!):

On what Pride means:

I’m providing no summary or take aways because Pride is personal, as evidenced below, and I hope that you will take the time to read through the responses readers submitted. I very much appreciate them taking the time to provide thoughtful responses and allowing me to share those responses with Temptalia community.

“It’s reclaiming my queer identity from being erased and dismissed; from being slut-shamed for being bi and also being fetishized by certain members within and outside of the community. It’s remembering my non-binary friend who committed suicide. It’s seeing my young nibling wear all pink all the time and feeling joy and support. It’s being brown and queer and accepted by my siblings when I came out, and it’s accepting my brown and queer siblings when they’ve come out. It’s having my pronouns respected. It’s changing local government gender categories. It’s about feeling and looking like myself, and remembering those who came before us. It’s about supporting others, both in my personal friend and family circles, and via charities and organisations in my country and abroad.” — Anonymous, identifying as gender non-binary and pansexual

“To me, Pride is a few things- to embrace yourself and your identity (whether it be your gender, sexuality, etc), to give support to other people in the community, and to remind ourselves of hardships we go through, past and present. But that’s just my personal interpretation of it, and my feelings may not reflect what other people feel or experience.” — Laura/platinatina

What should brands be doing, if they’re going to celebrate Pride with products?

Based on the responses I received, there were three points that seemed to run through most of them. First, there needs to be a charitable component; 100% of net proceeds is the bar to shoot for, but there has to be some “benefit/support” to the community (see Stephanie’s tweet). Efforts by Morphe, who donated 100% of proceeds to The Trevor Project, didn’t go unnoticed; the brand also filmed stories from the LGBTQIA+ community and added a straight donation ability of $1, $3, and $5 increments at checkout (for any and all Morphe products) to donate directly to The Trevor Project as well. An anonymous reader wanted brands to be clearer about their charitable contributions, too; like if it’s a product being sold in the UK, is a UK charity benefiting? only a US charity? Neither?

Second, we want to see and hear stories from people in the community, and we want to see their stories, their creativity, and their art reflected in the products/packaging/campaigns released when products are tied to Pride (see Taylor’s, Laur’s, and Mandy’s tweets).

“This year, I’ve been noticing more and more brands releasing Pride collections, and… how they have been handled has been really rubbing me the wrong way. From what I’ve seen, most of the brand Pride launches I’ve seen this year give very little to charity. Morphe, so far, is the only one that I’ve felt more comfortable about. 100% of their net proceeds from their Pride collection – along with extra donation options available in the cart – go to The Trevor Project, a charity that gives crisis counseling to LGBT youth in need. So… that’s something, at least.

I have a lot of other personal frustrations about how Pride campaigns are handled, but they are more specific to me and might not represent the whole community- like, I understand the deep history and importance of drag to our community, but I also don’t like having everything that’s LGBT and makeup-related being reduced to cis gay men doing drag or drag-inspired looks. I’m a lesbian. Almost all of my close friends are trans women, that don’t want anything to do with drag for a multitude of reasons- for example, they don’t want cis people to think that their identity as a trans woman is just a costume to take off. I’ve asked around a lot for LGBT makeup artists on YouTube or Instagram that *aren’t* cis gay men or people in the drag community, and… I don’t get very much in response. I never feel like it’s anything I can relate to, or anything that I could refer to my friends to help them.

Like, for example- Buxom released a collection of lipglosses for Pride, and… all of them were in collaboration with men. Or Urban Decay’s Sparkle Out Loud Pride collection had some weirdly voyeuristic, lesbian fetish-y photos for its promotional images. I see brands turn their social media icons rainbow without giving much in return, and mostly reposting heavy, drag-inspired looks for Pride, stick a rainbow and a tag on the post, and go back to ignoring LGBT people when July 1st rolls around. A lot of this has just reminded me how excluded I feel from makeup communities, and that kind of goes against what Pride really means to me, you know?” — Laura/platinatina

Third, it’s not just about rainbows and bright colors. This is something I saw noted strongly in GLAAD’s Pride Month Resource Kit for Journalists; there are “many faces of Pride,” and that there’s “no single image” that represents the entire community or Pride events. There’s a strong desire to see diverse campaign imagery; that there’s more than “love is love” to the community. As Laura, above, points out: “reposting heavy, drag-inspired looks for Pride, stick a rainbow and a tag on the post, and go back to ignoring LGBT people when July 1st rolls around” doesn’t do justice to the diversity that exists in the LGBTQIA+ community.

“I’d like to see Pride campaigns featuring a wider range of models from the community, not just those that are deemed more “palatable” or those that are fashionably fetishizable; I want more intersection. I want to see audit reports about how the company is doing internally with respect to to equal opportunity, supporting its LGBTQIA+ staff (temp and perm) — things like having non-gender specific bathrooms, how quickly they effect name and pronoun changes, staff training, etc.” — Anonymous, identifying as gender non-binary and pansexual

For some, they want to understand how a brand is supporting LGBTQIA+ issues beyond Pride products. I think it could be an interesting part of a campaign for a company to talk about what kind of support services they offer or what ongoing work they might be doing; there are definitely brands that do more in the background, so if there’s something to share, this is a good time to do so. They want to get a better sense that it’s not just lip service but that they walk the walk. (Think of MAC Viva Glam!)

On the other hand, I had a reader reach out anonymously and shared that while they felt they were in the minority, they were happy to see brands celebrating Pride, regardless of whether they donated anything toward the community, because they felt that it was giving LGBTQIA+ more visibility and normalizing them, which was very important to them. Sharing different perspectives is important because no one person can speak for an entire community.

Let’s Ask for Better

Beauty brands are primarily for-profit entities, so it’s not unexpected that brands make choices to also make more money, but in general, brands have provided some cover for when they do so–see Breast Cancer Awareness in October where tons of products launch but just about all donate some portion to the cause. Seeing brands market products as part of the Pride celebrations going on June but then failing to actually support LGBTQIA+ is deeply disappointing, and it’s not a trend I want to see continuing. 

I would have liked to have seen more brands donating significant portion of profits–ideally, all profits–for sales from any products they released in the name of Pride to organizations that work toward supporting the LGBTQIA+ community. I want to see thoughtful names, if they’re used, that actually connect to the journeys, stories, and people from past and present in the movement (Morphe did this with their Pride palette) through names, campaign imagery, and so on. I’d love to see a little leaflet or one-sheet included in products sold that raise awareness for the community and talk about donations/the organization they’ve partnered with (Youth to the People includes messaging on their product packaging as well as a sheet of Pride stickers). I want brands to educate themselves internally and make sure that their own policies and corporate culture are supportive and inclusive.

On that note, I would like to draw attention to a few brands who are doing better with respect to Pride product tie-ins:

First and foremost, MAC Viva Glam is one of the best charitable endeavors by a beauty brand to my knowledge/experience. In 2019, the campaign celebrates 25 years of charitable giving. They’ve raised $500 million over that time by selling Viva Gma Lipsticks, where 100% of the SELLING PRICE (!!!) is “donated to the MAC Viva Glam Fund to support the health and rights of people of All Ages, All Races and All Genders.” Now, “As part of the 25th anniversary, [MAC is] expanding the mission of serving those affected by HIV/AIDS to also support other charities within the women and girls and the LGBTQ communities – under the newly named VIVA GLAM Fund.”

Morphe, as mentioned previously, released a large campaign featuring a diverse set of individuals who shared their stories as members of the LGBTQIA+ community. They partnered with The Trevor Project, which is an organization that provides support services and resources for LGBTQIA+ youth, and they are donating 100% of net proceeds from the sales of their Pride eyeshadow palette and brush set. They also enabled a feature on their website that allows customers to donate $1, $3, or $5 at checkout (on any order) to The Trevor Project. Morphe also provided context on why the names were chosen in their eyeshadow palette, which was a thoughtful touch.

Youth to the People released a specially packaged edition of their Superfood Cleanser and will be donating 100% of profits to GLSEN (up to $50,000), which focuses on “championing LGBTQ issues in K-12 education.”

For those who want to work on being good allies, UC Davis has some excellent resources on how to be a good ally along with a glossary, information about pronouns, and knowing what words are harmful.  Below are some of the organizations that brands are supporting with charitable donations from the sales of their Pride product(s) — and if you have the means to do so, you might want to consider them as organizations to support with any charitable giving you do.

I invite readers to share their own answers, if they’re comfortable, to the questions I asked on social media. What does Pride month mean to you? Why is important to you? What would you like to see from brands if they’re going to “celebrate” Pride with products?

Thank you again to the readers who responded to my questions. I know that for some, it was an emotional moment to really think about it and give a thoughtful response. I am so thankful for and appreciate the emotional labor from readers who helped read through the draft of this post to ensure that it was as supportive as intended.

P.S. — I approved comments and hope to respond to more personally but didn’t want them to sit too long in the queue because I’d like everyone to get a chance to share and get visibility! xo


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SaffyTaffy Avatar

Pride month used to be kind of agonizing- I was always worried that if I celebrated that I would get fired or cut off from friends, but that not celebrating marked me as “not really gay” or “not gay enough.” I got a lot of that as a bisexual. For a while, I didn’t want to associate with the community because of that animosity towards bisexuality, and I just passed as straight all through my 20s. When I was hospitalized for a suicide attempt, I realized that hiding my sexuality played a part in why my life felt directionless, and why I so often kept myself from thinking about what I want. I would think “I can’t have what I want, so don’t think about it.” That was in lots of aspects of my life, but it was in my sexuality/love life particularly.
One thing that helped me affirm my identity was beauty. I started wearing what I call “queer armor” of a slightly outre hairstyle and makeup whose purpose was the opposite of attracting men. Somehow when I do warrior stripes of iridescent glitter on my face, I feel like people can tell I’m not straight, and it feels good. It feels right.
So now pride month is a time to ramp what’s natural up a notch, and to help provide a positive role model for other people struggling to come out.

Christine Avatar

I’m so glad you were able to find something that helped affirm your identity and helped you move forward. It is really fantastic that you’re there as a role model & supporter for others who need it. You also bring up a great point that, at least in some areas of the world, it is much easier to celebrate Pride without fear of repercussions!

Thank you for sharing!

SaffyTaffy Avatar

Thank you for writing this wonderful post. I mean besides it being a topic that I care about and besides your thoughtfulness in inviting us to share, you have such a solid voice when writing. You are clear and guide the reader along, and every time you writer a longer post it’s a treat. Thank you.

Litha Avatar

Thank you Christine for such a thoughtful and educating post. I too would like to see more beauty brands donating, sponsoring and promoting charitable causes within the LGBTQ community, not just this month but year-round. This is the first year that I’ve noticed so much capitalization on Pride Month in the beauty community and though I dislike how little is actually benefiting the LGBTQ community at least it is bringing more awareness to the community.

Christine Avatar

I am guessing it is because it is the 50th anniversary of Pride, but it’s still odd to me – like I get that it’s marketing and brands are for-profit, brands are not our friends, etc., but it is also clearer that more brands are taking particular stances socially and/or politically as a way to “sell,” so I don’t know why they aren’t doing better on a superficial level for Pride.

I also think it’s great that we can say, “Here are some pros to what’s happening,” while simultaneously saying, “But you could be doing so much more!”

Christine Avatar

Earlier in May, when a few of the releases went live (with no charitable giving attached to it – a lot of those products are on Sephora, and NOW Sephora is giving $1 from those sales), but it felt like all the brands got together and were like, “Time to celebrate Pride!” There have also been inconsistencies in the donation language or where it appears (or doesn’t appear), and it’s bothersome that even some of the products that are giving… went live a week or two weeks before donations would start kicking in!

ACP Avatar

As a queer woc, I wish brands would take the extra effort look for smaller organizations to partner with. Not to take away the good work that SAGE and GLSEN do but some of those gifts that they are getting are like a drop in the bucket to them. There are smaller orgs that could use the money and exposure.

Christine Avatar

That is a great point! I think that is something MAC does – they have it all funnel into their now-Viva Glam Fund, but then they distribute across organizations. This from MAC’s press release on Viva Glam’s 25th anniversary: “To date, we have raised $500MM for 1,800 organizations that serve 19 million people a year living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.”

I wonder if there is more detailed insight to some of those organizations, though, that they’ve contributed to that aren’t as well-known!

Carol Avatar

Great post. I have noticed that a lot of companies are jumping on board this year. Hell, at BBW this weekend, they had a candle with a rainbow flag on it that says “Pride”. The fragrance is just one of their regular candle fragrances – nothing special or new. I feel that the majority of companies are just trying to benefit from this. I don’t recall seeing this much last year. So yeah, it is very off-putting if a company is just putting a rainbow flag on something and calling it Pride but then not doing anything else. It’s like they are treating it like a trend. I don’t like that. I agree with the comments above that said each company needs to spell out if and where they are donating money.

Tarzi Avatar

I really agree with Laura in particular. As a queer woman (white and cis, but still) I often find Pride, especially as interpreted by the beauty community, leans veeeeery male and very drag-heavy and very hypersexualized. Rainbow capitalism is a Thing and it’s been a source of contention in my city for a few years now (Toronto). This year’s rainbow palette packaging frenzy has been just another reason I find what Pride has become kind of distasteful. But that said, I see how people in areas with very little acceptance for queer people really need something to come together for, it’s just my personal/local context makes me skeptical of what a lot of it has become. (And that coconut-vanilla bland Bath & Body Works candle is exactly what drives me crazy!)

Celena Avatar

I just want to start this comment by saying that I’m a lesbian, so I’m going to be talking from that perspective!
When I was first kind of out, I was really excited about Pride support from brands. I wanted rainbow everything. I wanted everyone to know.
But now things are a lot different than ~2014, and I’m a lot different. I don’t like it. I love rainbows and sparkles, but I just don’t have any great feelings towards Pride like this anymore. It’s a very clear obvious cash grab, preying on marginalised and vulnerable people. The donations are rarely anything substantial, and as you pointed out, I’m in the UK. I want to know where my money would be going. Or I would just donate because consumerism is killing the planet and I really want to contribute less to that!
Similarly, Pride started as rebellion. It was a protest as much as a party. These brands just don’t care about that. It’s become something of a generic festival. Which would be fine, but there are still so many problems we have to face worldwide, and so many people who still can’t be themselves. I don’t think one month of people wearing glittery rainbows is going to help.
Another thing that has become more obvious to me is that person don’t care about lesbians. Whether it’s organisations avoiding the word “lesbian” or people’s ideas of LGBT just being the G and T (women, rarely trans men). I want to see out lesbians in not only the beauty community, but in marketing! I feel so alone, but I know there’s got to be more people out there!

If brands are going to “celebrate” Pride, I want it to be genuine. I want the majority to all of the profits being donated. I want them to draw attention to things that are facing the community. I want at least some acknowledgement outside of June. I want acknowledgement that other countries exist and that we have our own LGBT struggles and history. I want to see more variety and diversity in marketing year round (for beauty brands, anyone can wear makeup! Makeup shouldn’t be gendered. Have masculine men, and trans men, and butches! Stop having the naming and branding being so heteronormative [@ The Balm haha]). Stop making the marketing surrounding this about how great you are for remembering Pride is a thing. Make products that aren’t just obviously queerbaiting, like naming an eyeliner “Stonewall”. The eyeliner has nothing to do with Stonewall. You could have named it anything and released it at any time, and it still would’ve made sense!

I’m sorry this was quite long! I’ve had a lot of thoughts about this recently. I’ve also had my hardcore painkillers (chronic pain sucks) so I hope I made sense! Thank you for talking about this, Christine! It’s something that I would really like more critical discussion about, especially as LGBT culture becomes more mainstream.

Tessa Avatar

I hear this, so much! I’m bi, not lesbian, but you’re absolutely right that the word “lesbian” just still seems like a hot potato. Yes to the problematic product naming (especially but by far not exclusively at The Balm!), yes to the raised eyebrows at a “Stonewall” named liner, yes to all of it.

I did hear a friend recently quote that “To be a lesbian is to be un-commodifiable,” Maybe there’s a really interesting research project out there about whether the lack of queer women in marketing is self-selecting to some degree. As one point of anecdata, I know only one lesbian who used to work in marketing, and she now works in a very different career; I’ll refrain from divulging the details of her personal story here.

Sarah Avatar

Hi! I’d love to be in your lesbian/queer women beauty club 🙂 I feel like so often we get pegged as butch/tomboys who don’t care about makeup (I’m better at makeup than all my straight friends so…) or the “sexy” one who exists for the Male Gaze’s enjoyment.

My wife isn’t quite the product-junkie that I am, but between the two of us our apartment is a bit overflowing with beauty products. One of my favorite memories of our wedding day was the two of us getting ready together and helping each other with hair and makeup <3

CeeBee Avatar

Look, I’m all for it and I’m as straight as they come. I think any effort to normalize queer culture and celebrate different identities and inclusivity should be supported, no matter how small. Sure, it would be super great to see companies donate huge amounts or 100% pf profits but even a small step is a small step in the right direction. Hopefully the next step will be bigger and better but I’m wary of dismissing efforts because they’re not “enough” – this is still progress and yes, it’s tiring and difficult and sometimes painful and yes, there is still a long, long way to go until all members of the community feel safe and loved and free to express themselves without condemnation. But the more people who participate and join the journey, the more love and support there should be.
Having said that, I do feel it is crucial that the support is genuine and meaningful, not just rainbow tagging.

We have an annual pride parade in our biggest city and this year is was an absolute disaster – a small but vocal faction objected to the police force marching in uniform (along with a very cool rainbow police car), so the cops withdrew and their spokeswoman was very articulate and not at all retaliatory but then the armed forces contingent pulled out in protest and then there was a domino effect of big sponsors (like major banks, some international brands) pulling out and the whole thing just collapsed. Whether they will get funding for next year, I don’t know. I hope so.

I love and support Pride, even though there have been occasions where I have been made to feel unwelcome because I’m hetero (and demisexual, but that’s neither here nor there) and look, I totally get wanting an exclusive safe space but Pride is loud and proud and unashamedly public and as far as I am concerned, the only people who don’t belong there are the ones who don’t want to be. And maybe lions (wrong sort of pride, don’t wanna confuse ’em 😉 )

CeeBee Avatar

It’s easy for me to say though – gay and lesbian voices and their thoughts and perspectives should be given priority.

I think Pride is moving more mainstream, which yeah, I support. But if it’s purpose is now serving brands and corporations and the non-queer more than the actual people and identities that make Pride meaningful, then we need to listen and adapt, not just throw a one day rainbow fun party, pat ourselves on the back and then go home without anything actually changing.

CeeBee Avatar

I’m in New Zealand, so our history and culture is different, Pride and LGBT rights included. First country in the world to give women the vote, first to have a transgender politician in parliament, marriage equality and same sex adoptions since August 2013 (13th country to put it into law)…

Obviously the USA has had a very different path, so I can see why you think differently.

Sarah Avatar

I don’t want to claim to speak for queer folks in New Zealand, but CeeBee I would recommend that you try to listen to the folks who were protesting the cops at pride in your own city and see why they were concerned! I did a quick google search and found that the New Zealand police do have a history of racism, which makes sense given the colonialist and anti-indigenous history that America and New Zealand both share:

Courtney Avatar

I have to sadly agree with the ladder part of this article and say that i feel that lots of companies are using for marketing solely and not contributing anything to the actual LGBTQIA+ community, for example (and this is like the worse of them all), i went to the mall and pasted by Victoria’s Secret as its on the way to the MAC counter and in their Pink line, they have shirts when rainbow hearts slapped on shirt in the placement like pasties and a solid black shirt with a small “happy” embroidered on the upper breast, they also had a few pairs of underwear choices with rainbow hearts and the “happy” saying. I could only think of this when thinking of companies using it solely marketing and probably to look good. As we all remember the controversy with the CEO of VS they said they would never put a trans model on the runway, simply because she “couldn’t sell the fantasy”. Just saying, i dont think VS should be allowed to use pride month for anything. So seeing that even VS is doing just really disheartens the meaning of pride month for me personally as a lesbian women, knowing that many others like them are just hopping on a marketing bandwagon.

Wynstep Avatar

This is a great and insightful post. As a 64-year old straight woman I have to say it’s about damned time that Pride is hitting it’s stride! Nobody..and I mean NOBODY should be in a position to end their lives over discrimination about their sexuality. You love who you love. But I’ll be even happier if pride isn’t noticed once a year during a week or a month. I’ll be happy when pride is normalized and every day is a pride day.
What bothers me is that all these brands are jumping on the Pride bandwagon. But..are any of the profits going to organizations to stop suicide? Are young people who have been thrown out of their homes getting any help from these brands? Why aren’t members of the LGBTQ used as models for these brands that are making money off the pride bandwagon? Are members of the community having a say in production or marketing or creating? Let’s hope so.

Genevieve Avatar

What does Pride Month mean to you?
To me it means a celebration of how societal attitudes towards those in the LGBTQIA+ community have changed over the past 30 years or so, especially here in Aus where the same sex marriage bill was recently passed. It provides a focus on how those in this community have struggled and fought for acceptance in the wider community.
It also means that those in the community can celebrate their personal achievements, without fear of repercussions, because in many parts of the world, a declaration could mean your life is in danger.

Why is it important to you? It’s really important to me because Pride Month provides an opportunity to remind us that everyone is equal in our society, no matter what your sexuality is. To me, what kind of person you are and how you live your life is more important and that discrimination leads to feelings of despair and a lack of self worth. Always feeling ‘on the outside’ and feeling that you have to hide an intrinsic part of yourself would be a very difficult way to live your life and I don’t believe that anyone should feel this way.

What would you like to see from brands if they’re going to “celebrate” Pride with products?
Well, first of all the products have to be really good quality, respectful, tasteful and without any parody at all. In fact, I am wondering whether brands should take advantage of Pride Month at all, because it is not a gimmick or an ‘event’ like Valentines Day.

Katie Avatar

I’m glad to see this response, and grateful you included the perspective I gave. I deeply appreciate you for amplifying LGBTQA+ voices and using your position of influence as a respected reviewer to create discussion and convey opinions on various companies. I have always felt able to speak up in this community you have created, without fear. I’m lucky, because I’m a white, cis woman from an upper middle class background, which gives me a lot of privilege. I hope I am able to use it in a way to respectfully amplify the voices of others in the community.

I saw a good point raised about the people used by brands to represent our community; women loving women are often fetishized or overlooked in favour of men wearing makeup. I hope in future brands expand their representatives to include ordinary people in the community; we arent all wearing load and proud rainbow makeup. Some of us are just people living our regular lives, but that doesnt make us less “gay”.

Thanks for such a thoughtful and thought provoking post.

Esther Avatar

This is why I love you Christine. This post really articulated exactly how I’ve been feeling this month. You got so many points that I think many people have overlooked (or like me, just could not articulate in all of their mixed bag of emotions). As an ally to the community, and someone with strong political convictions, I appreciate your words and your anecdotes and evidence that you gave in this post.

Kira Avatar

Christine!! This is such a wonderful post.

What does Pride month mean to you? I have never felt “gender” that strongly and have always seen the gender binary as extremely toxic and unnecessary. I have always been attracted to people from across the gender spectrum, but I still do not feel comfortable telling this to people since it’s something that can easily be hidden and not discussed, and the downside of mentioning it is too great (cis straight men making it an ongoing source of joke material, gay men eyerolling, lesbian eyerolling). I feel it has and does prevent me from fully being myself in the world without a stigma. If people make a comment about my straightness I feel comfortable to correct it maybe 20% of the time.

Compared with the difficulty of other groups, the problems seem not as bad but can sometimes feel suffocating. (I can’t say enough about the rabid and open (and legal) discrimination that the trans community faces!). A lot of the more middle class Gen Z in eurocentric countries gets it. (Can’t make sweeping generational assessments as my LGBT sisters in countries like China and Uganda face open hostility from every level of society). But I think for the most part, the others do not. And that’s still a problem. I don’t know if Pride is the vehicle to “fix” these problems, but I have to say it’s a welcome change for everyone to throw up rainbows or what have you and say we embrace you, even if it doesn feel authentic. I grew up in the time when (I’m just 33) the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was signed by Bill Clinton in the nineties. Or Diane Feinstein, who refused to attend Pride parades as SF mayor, had a leadership position in the democratic party. Brands targeting Gen Y and Gen Z, who demand socially conscious corporate culture and equity and fairness in marketing, is a welcome change even if it’s due to market forces.

We live in an era where the label “asexual” or gender non binary are just breaking into the mainstream. I’ve seen people learn these labels and it have a real impact on their self understanding and well being. There’s a lot of work to be done, and I’m glad that our post-capitalist perseverating about the BEST way to celebrate Pride can exist — what a way to bring people to the table to have a real conversation.

What would you like to see from brands if they’re going to “celebrate” Pride with products?

I think it would be unique to market the message that all staff is receiving bias training or some type of training of LGBTQIA+ issues (thank you for this term – new to me, and happy to learn of it and why it changed!). The makeup counter can be an extremely stressful and important place for people to contemplate gender (especially trans people). If brands openly marketed on social media as a standalone message and not a hidden policy, that staff on all levels (in all regions) were trained on gender issues, that might take even a tiny amount of the stress our of this experience. Or a public (e.g. IG story or post) acknowledgement of this experience to inform other customers who might shop in the same space, might take at least some inadvertent peer hostility out of it.

Sarah Avatar

As a queer femme woman, I have SOOO many feelings about this, but no time/energy to share today 🙂

Instead, I wanted to leave a link to an article about the queer founders of one of my favorite indie brands, W3ll people! They are donating 5% of sales to the Trevor project, and they are highlighting their own stories and queer people of color. This is how to do “rainbow capitalism” RIGHT.

p.s. another important thing to me in terms of representation that I think brands could do better with is featuring more queer women/femmes. I have complicated feelings about a brand like Tarte dipping its toe into the pride market, but the images of Jessie Paege wearing bright makeup with such joy–without just being objectified as a bi woman–made me really happy.

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