More and more, people are questioning the authenticity of joining the justice bandwagons like BLM, AAPI heritage month, women’s history month, and of course Pride month. People (read: I) am suddenly hesitant to show support for a cause for fear of being deemed inauthentic and risking near cultural cancellation after showing support.
For example: is it so wrong for corporations to emblazon their logos with rainbow flags during pride month as long as they’re not contributing money to hate speech in July? Admittedly, AT&T tiptoes dangerously close to such hypocrisy by having a Pride Twitter banner while also giving $56,295 to Mitch McConnell.
But are those two actions diametrically opposed? Depends who you ask.
Instagram and TikTok are full of posts about people criticizing and mocking the corporate embrace of Pride. It’s often laughable and frequently clumsy.
And YES – talking the talk without walking the walk is inauthentic. Action is more important than virtue-signaling.
But isn’t signaling the first step? Can’t we show our support for social justice without, say, posting a picture of a $50,000 to a pro-LGBTQ+ organization?
My partner recently returned from the grocery store with a box of Kellogg’s “Together with Pride” cereal. My first thought: “holy shit, people in red-neck areas of the country will see this!” and then, “Wait. Should I be annoyed by the corporate wokeness?”
But why not? Tony the Tiger, Toucan Sam, Snap, Crackle and Pop showing my own children they’re happy to celebrate Pride? This helps queer kids (and adults) across the country feel seen.
Gay people frequently say they lacked inspiration, role models and representation when they (we) were growing up. We didn’t see ourselves reflected, supported or celebrated. And while the proportion of self-identifying gay men and lesbians is still a small portion of the population, representation and celebration is HERE.
If a company wants to celebrate (and market to sell more shit) for one month out of the year, is that so wrong? Of course these companies should have workplace non-discrimination clauses, embrace diversity in their inner corporate practices and amplify, promote and reward the voices of gay, BIPOC, women and disabled voices within the company
And if there is hypocrisy within the company, it should be rooted out and held accountable. Hopefully, someone in the company occasionally says: “Hey, why don’t we donate a portion of proceeds to Black Lives Matter!” Maybe they say, “Let’s do some soul-searching about our workplace diversity and hiring?” or “Can we have a book club studying BIPOC stories?” or “Hey, are we doing everything to make our company accessible to all disabilities” or “Let’s have an in-service to discuss all the questions you’re afraid to ask about queer topics. And let’s have cocktails while we do so.”
But is it “inauthentic” for a company to “only” use rainbows for one month of the year? I dunno – doesn’t that bring variety and beauty that makes the month special? As I lecture my kids constantly that making an effort for a special occasion is worthwhile; going to the effort brings flavor to life. If there were rainbows everywhere all year long, wouldn’t that just get…stale? Queer rainbows would become the new basic.
And no LGBTQ+ person ever wants to be called basic.
To be clear, I am an absolute intolerable snob and have no patience for folks who don’t study history, read books and appreciate the sacrifices made by our ancestral activists. The best way to be an advocate and activist is to know about those who brought us to the point of being able to have rainbow parades sponsored by BudLite.
For those people with gratitude, who think Pride is about being fierce and show no love for their fellow human being,or social justice causes and who prioritize sneering and judgment over embrace and mutual sacrifice – these are the people who deserve to be censored.
But for Kellogg’s to make my gender-fluid 9yo beam with Pride that a cereal company has her back? Indeed, I actually find that authentic AF.
Photo courtesy of author