Combatting Rainbow Capitalism and Pinkwashing at Gay Pride
Banks. Deodorant. Cupcakes. It seems like every company creates rainbow products for pride month — that's what prompted a group of activists to march in response to "rainbow capitalism" and pinkwashing. 🌈
Pinkwashing is the practice of a state or company presenting itself as gay-friendly and progressive, in order to downplay their negative behavior. The practice of a company using support of breast cancer-related charities to promote itself and its products or services. In 2017, Donald Trump deemed trans people “unfit” to serve in the military and disruptive to military service, and banned their enrollment, causing an uproar across the nation. Securing housing, work and livelihoods are major factors that motivate trans people to enlist. Yet for all recruits, and disproportionately for trans people, the military is fraught with dangers, including sexual assault. A recent study by the Society for Social Work and Research found that trans service members were 29 percent more likely to report being sexually assaulted than straight and cis personnel. According to Omar G. Encarnación, a Professor of Political Studies at Bard College, the Obama administration was accused by some critics of pinkwashing "to distract from other unsavory policies such as the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants and the failure to prosecute those responsible for the human rights abuses of the Bush administration’s War on Terror.
LGBTQIA pride marches have become increasingly corporate and heavily policed since they began in 1970. That's why Reclaim Pride Coalition co-founder Natalie James launched a protest march the weekend of 2019's World Pride NYC — also the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The coalition quickly discovered they share concerns about police oppression/corporate sponsorship at LGBTQIA pride events. The march will be retracing the same route the Gay Liberation Front marched in 1970 — the year after the Stonewall uprising. The march is a direct response to rainbow capitalism and pinkwashing. James says she is hopeful that this protest march is just one piece of a wider movement towards social justice.