Have you heard of the term rainbow capitalism? It was coined to describe how 2SLGBTQPIA+ symbolism is being used by companies to heighten consumerism without leading to meaningful improvement for the 2SLGBTQPIA+ community. This topic really grabbed my attention during Pride Month.
As a straight CIS person, I wanted to do something for pride month that would help me and my peers learn more about the 2SLGBTQPIA+ community, while ensuring it was still helpful and meaningful to the community. So I did what I know to be very important—I gave the mic to the community. 🎤 🏳️🌈
I am so lucky that some of my dear friends/Boom clients agreed to a panel discussion that helped me (and anyone reading this) learn more. The fact that this blog is coming out (no pun intended 😉 ) on the last day of pride month 2022 is strategic. I didn’t want any of our content to potentially come up in a Google search above content created in June by 2SLGBTQPIA+ owned companies or community members. I wanted to be sure we are putting the message out there loud and clear that these issues and topics matter and deserve our attention, All. Damn. Year. Long. 💜
In alphabetical order, let’s introduce our panel and my friends:
In alphabetical order, let’s introduce our panel and my friends:
Alex O’Daly, Creative Director, Video Producer and Owner of Aspect Film Works
Lisa Strachan, Director of Destination Development at Tourism Kamloops
Nic Zudnich, Manager, External Relations & Strategic Communications at the Kamloops & District Chamber of Commerce
Q: What does pride month mean to you?
I think pride month for me is a celebration of all things 2SLGBTQPIA+, especially how far we’ve come considering our history and the many challenges queer people have faced over time. With acceptance at the forefront of people’s minds today (such as racism and accepting people for who they are),it’s a reminder that we still have a long way to go. We don’t have as far to go as other countries in the world that still prosecute gay people, but there’s still a lot of work to do.
On one hand to me, pride month is a reminder, and on the other hand, a celebration. It is a time to be proud and remember who you are and that who you love is just as important and valid as anyone else.
Pride month makes me appreciate that there are advocates pushing to bring attention to the LGBTQ community, and it’s not just us that are part of the community.
I think pride month is a good reminder about all the work that has happened before us, starting with the Stonewall Riots in New York in June 1969. It’s a nice tip of our hats to the work that’s been done but is also a reminder of how much there is still to do.
What is your favourite part of pride month?
Just the general excitement and celebratory nature of June! There are so many events and celebrations that give us a time when we can all get together as a queer community, see each other, celebrate together, wear our colours, and just generally be proud together. It’s also nice that we get to stretch pride celebrations over an entire month to give everyone time to celebrate different events.
As I’ve gotten older, reflection of history has become a big part of my pride celebrations. When you’re younger, you’re still learning your identity and you like the fun part of celebrating pride, but the older I get the more grateful I am for the historical moments that have happened in the community. Reflection is a big part of how grateful I am that gay marraige is now a reality, people are not being prosecuted anymore for being gay, and that there are such things as ally clubs in school. I didn’t come out until after high school – I think I would have been terrified to come out in high school because it just wasn’t as visible and supported as it is today.
Honestly, one of my favourite parts about pride is when I go to restaurants, or log onto Facebook and I see how many people are participating. For example, Cordo Resto + Bar has rainbow flags all over, and I really like what people come up with for their logos during Pride.
I love the community aspect of it and how everyone is together and it’s a big celebration. I also love the evolution of pride month; how we get to have great conversations on where we’re at and get together and celebrate all the different types of humans that exist in the world.
What is your least favourite part of pride month?
Kathleen and I went to the Vancouver Pride Parade a few years ago and when I was witnessing the parade, the participants were largely from big corporations with staff members all wearing the same branded t-shirt with their logo on it and it just really seemed like another way to promote the the corporation over celebrating queer culture and who you are. When I still lived in Australia, I attended the Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney many times and I really took away from it that the parade participants are people happy to be themselves, completely unashamed, and dancing and having a good time – it was just such a different atmosphere.
But, in the same breath, I think it’s great that large corporations are starting to show inclusivity and progress forward in being inclusive and having their staff feeling accepted. I just feel there’s more to it than putting on a branded tee and walking down the street.
That it flies by and it’s competing with so much. June is always a month with so much going on personally and work wise, I don’t feel like I can participate as much as I would like to.
The fact that we still need to have a month to talk about progress and we still need Pride Month to showcase lifestyle choices. It seems like we should already be at the point where we don’t need this month for progress, but there’s still so much work to be done – which at times can be disappointing.
As we already mentioned rainbow capitalism, how do you feel personally about companies and large corporations using a rainbow logo in June?
I think it’s great for companies to use a rainbow version of their logo to show support for the community, but if you’re going to use the rainbow flag or a rainbow version of your logo, do something like Boom is doing here; shedding light on gay people, their history, and what makes them feel safe. Be sure if you are showing that you support the community you are taking time to dive deeper, learn, and connect with the community.
If you’re a large company and you have the means to donate some of your funding to LGBTQIA+ services, that is a huge one – especially donating funding to youth mental health. Unfortunately , there are still a lot of people in our queer community sufffering with gender identity or family issues becuase they are queer. But if you’re not a large corporation and you don’t have the means to donate, explore how people view pride, learn about gay history, and help us create more awareness and visibility around it.
I guess for me it’s hard for me to understand how people think that changing your logo in support of pride month will change your brand identity;I don’t think the world is that easily persuaded anymore. I like the rainbow logos—they look cool and they draw my attention to those businesses because they symboliz support for the gay community. Is a company going to automatically get my business because they have a rainbow logo and I’m gay? No. But it would draw my attention. Having said that, I would be angry if a company was using a rainbow logo but then had homophobic tendencies or policies as part of their organization. Long story short, if you’re using a rainbow version of your logo, do it because you actually believe in supporting the gay community.
I think representation is important, so I’m okay with companies using the rainbow flag as long as they walk the walk. You can’t have homophobic policies and hand out rainbow logo stickers in a pride parade. The only thing I care about is seeing that allies/people/businesses are trying. Everyone can continuously learn, and as long as you’re trying to learn more and helping create a safe space for everyone, I want to see your rainbow logos!
On the topic of rainbow capitalism, pride parades throughout Canada can be fairly corporate. How do you feel about this? What do you think could make parades better?
I think pride month is about all things queer, so spice up your float with glitter, dancing, bright colours, and make it more of a spectacle than promoting your branding.
I understand the corporate angle and the sponsorship needs of the parade, as they are important in any event and our parade is so well done. But coming together for a planning meeting with sponsors of the parade before it happens could be helpful for the businesses and it could be a great way to come up with some amazing activations for the event.
As someone with an event planning background, I understand how these events get paid for – it’s through corporate sponsorship and having a presence. If your organization is truly an ally, it’s great to see everyone in the parade because I think the parades and pride events should be inclusive, not exclusive. Let’s include everyone! It took so many years to get to where we are today and having local businesses and large corporations walk as allies shows our progression. Some may not realize just how long it took us to get to a place where these large corporations are participating.
How can businesses prove their allyship in an authentic, meaningful, and accountable way?
- Monetary donations (for the larger corporations)
- Being part of a fundraiser for services that help gay or trans people
- For smaller businesses don’t have the monetary means:
- Write a blog to make things more visible
- Post on social about allyship and education
- Really anything to create awareness
- Ensure a safe working environment for all, especially marginalized communities, is in your policies
- If you don’t have one, create an equity and diversity policy ASAP
- Create a equity and diversity committee at your workplace
- Give to queer fundraising efforts or group of choice
- Participate in Pride Month with sponsorship and window displays
- Show your support proudly instead of just changing your logo and then going back to business as usual
- Start by auditing the policies and procedures within your organization
- Review your HR practices and ensure they are inclusive
- Celebrate pride, show your support and offer a safe space for the community year round with pride stickers that symbolize allyship (this may seem insignificant to some, but for people that are part of the community it’s very significant to see this year-round)
- Ask yourself the following about your business:
- Do you have safe spaces?
- Do you have gender neutral washrooms?
- Have you gayed up your workplace?
- Do you have bottomless mimosas every Thursday?
What would you say is the best way for someone to be an ally for the LGBTQ+ community?
This could apply to so many different people, in so many different ways!
As a parent:
- Talk to your kids about how gay people are the same as everyone else
- Don’t make derogatory jokes or say ‘oh that’s gay’ in front of your children so they think it is normal practice
- Interact with everyone the same. Children learn how to interact with other people and children from their parents. Promote inclusive language and behaviours that help prevent homophobia
Parents have been doing a great job.It is noticeable that children are turning into good, accepting human beings in these modern times.
As an adult:
- Be more accepting
- Put yourself in someone else’s shoes as best you can
- Know that the love you feel for your hetero partner is the same love someone else feels for their same sex partner
Try it 🌈 ✌️
But also, I do think Kamloops is a lot more welcoming than people might assume, speaking from experience. Lori and I walk around holding hands and celebrating our relationship like any other couple does and we get a lot of really awesome smiles from people. Even something as small as a smile can mean a lot.
I think the first step is to listen. Don’t come in telling me everything you are doing to be an ally. Instead, talk to people in the community and see what their challenges are and try to alleviate those challenges.
Listen, then learn is step #1.
Learning about the community and then not making it about you and what you’ve learned is step #2.
What can businesses do to support the community if there’s a lack of LGBTQ+ representation within their company?
Let new hires know during your onboarding process that your organization is an inclusive workplace, make it clear that you do NOT tolerate any kind of hate or bullying, and ensure you have policies in place to ensure any kind of hate is not tolerated.
For the larger corporations, create corporate events that are suitable to the queer community and celebrate the queer employees you have.
- Be very clear that you are an inclusive opportunity employer and you encourage people from all walks of life to apply, and mean it.
- Something as simple as a gender neutral bathroom is a little thing that goes a long way in the LGBTQIA+ community.
- Double check that policies are in place for anti-bullying and how staff are prepared to support.
- Look at your work space – make sure you have pride decals up because that shows your workplace is a safe space
- Show up, and again, listen and learn
- Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes
- Know that you’re going to make mistakes (maybe you mis-gender someone) and that’s okay; as long as you are genuinely trying to learn you are helping
What is the best way for non-queer business owners to support queer employees?
Be understanding. Employees and colleagues often go through personal issues or setbacks, home issues, or issues in their love life. How they are feeling in that situation is exactly the same whether you’re gay or straight. We are all human. So, just know when your gay coworkers or employees are going through something personally, it’s the same as when you are going through something personally.
Just treat everyone equally.
Review your HR policies to make sure your space is indeed a safe space. Reach out to Boom People Solutions (thanks Nic 😉) and have them review your internal policies and hiring policies, and audit everything.
What is the best way for businesses to celebrate this important month all year round?
If you run a brick and mortar business; having that rainbow flag on the door or window is a great way to promote inclusion all year round – I’m always happy to see that sticker! If you’re a home-based business, there are still little ways you can show support; show your support on social, take photos of you and your team celebrating at a pride parade, do anything you know supports the queer community, donate, get involved in some way.
Continuing to celebrate people’s differences. It doesn’t have to be just the month of June that you acknowledge everyone – all in all just don’t be a dick.
It’s wonderful to see all the support in the month of June, but allyship is a year-round opportunity for people. Take training courses, have pride stickers and flags in your window – they can stay up year-round! As someone that’s part of the LGBTQIA+ community, I notice the flag and rainbows everywhere and it’s great because we know that someone put that there and decided to keep it there year-round. It doesn’t have to be over the top like you do for June but keeping a little bit out means so much to the community when they walk into your business.
Take people/organizations up on training opportunities, listen to webinars, make it part of your staff training.
Check in with your staff on an ongoing basis and ensure they are feeling safe, and maybe even provide opportunities for anonymous feedback from the staff.
Celebrate pride every day ! If there is a panel discussion about gender identity or inclusive workspaces being offered – go to it! It doesn’t have to be June. If you’re actually an ally, this is work you can be doing to help us all year.
The more open you are with change, the easier change is. What I mean by that is the more you are open to continuously learning, the more you will keep learning, and the better ally you will become.
See you at brunch 🥂