Rainbow Capitalism (OP-ED)

Written By:

Emily Eames

Publishing Date: 

June 11, 2022

This article contains opinions that do not represent the official views of USYF.

What is Rainbow Capitalism?

Many stores offer LGTBQ+ and Pride merchandise during June to celebrate Pride Month. Stores and retailers, such as Target and Walmart, will display this merchandise in the storefront, so it is the first thing customers see. Offering Pride merchandise is a way for corporations to demonstrate diversity and inclusivity to their customers. However, there may be an ulterior motive behind the influx of LGBTQ+ commodities during June. There is a demand for Pride merchandise, especially during June when LGBTQ+ communities and allies alike aspire to demonstrate their support and celebrate Pride Month. Since there is a demand for Pride goods, some corporations will often supply commodities that brandish rainbows, the symbol for the LGTBQ+ movement. This is where the term "Rainbow Capitalism" gets its name.

During Pride Month, you may hear the term Rainbow Capitalism and wonder, what is this referring to? Rainbow Capitalism references the practice of companies offering Pride-related merchandise during Pride Month[1]. However, their company views and actions may work in opposition to or ignore the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.

What can you do?

This can be a tricky topic to navigate as a consumer, since Rainbow capitalism falls under the category of ethical consumption. Ethical consumption involves understanding where the product comes from, who made it, and the context surrounding the product[1]. Ethical consumption can be a privilege because it involves having the opportunity and time to research all of the goods you purchase and having the financial freedom to choose between an ethical or unethical option.

If ethical consumption interests you, then the best way to get started is to pick a few items you use everyday and research where they come from and who makes them. Start small; who makes your shampoo? What does the company that makes your favorite t-shirt support? Does the company that makes your toothpaste practice any philanthropy? If so, who do they donate to? What causes do they stand with?

As a challenge, during Pride Month, try to be more conscious about the companies you are buying from. If you are on the market for a Pride t-shirt or bumper sticker, take a few minutes to see if that company is actively supporting the LGTBQ+ community. If not, then maybe look for an alternative company that's actively striving to support the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, or take this opportunity to donate directly to an organization that supports the Pride movement. Keep in mind that at the end of the day, it's not about being perfect. It's about staying informed and doing your best.

[1] See Pyke, T., & Regan , C. (2020, December 1). Ethical Consumption. DevelopmentEducation.ie. Retrieved May 30, 2022, from https://developmenteducation.ie/feature/ethical-consumption/

[1] From Desjardins, L., Jacobson, M., Carlson, F., Thoet, A., Foley, A., & Barajas, J. (2021, June 30). Rainbow capitalism raises questions about corporate commitments and pride month's purpose. PBS. Retrieved June 1, 2022, from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/rainbow-capitalism-raises-questions-about-corporate-commitments-and-pride-months-purpose

Sources

[1] From Desjardins, L., Jacobson, M., Carlson, F., Thoet, A., Foley, A., & Barajas, J. (2021, June 30). Rainbow capitalism raises questions about corporate commitments and pride month's purpose. PBS. Retrieved June 1, 2022, from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/rainbow-capitalism-raises-questions-about-corporate-commitments-and-pride-months-purpose

[2] See Pyke, T., & Regan , C. (2020, December 1). Ethical Consumption. DevelopmentEducation.ie. Retrieved May 30, 2022, from https://developmenteducation.ie/feature/ethical-consumption/