Pride month: a celebration or a corporate masquerade?


Zoe Glascow, First Year, Politics and International Relations

Every June, the world celebrates Pride Month. This is to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of June 1969, which saw an uprising of members of the gay community in response to police raids of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City.

It is important to remember some of the key figures we’ve seen fighting for LGBTQ+ equality since Stonewall and to evaluate how much further we have to go to achieve absolute equality.

Pride Month should be both a celebration of the recent freedoms won by the community, as well as an ignition of passion and activism for further liberation.

This Pride Month has highlighted some important issues for LGBTQ+ activists and allies: the attempts of capitalist corporations and politicians to hold out an olive branch to the LGBTQ+ community with apparent actions of solidarity that have been mocked by the community.

To tackle this problem of rainbow-washing, we must stop supporting these greedy corporations

Unfortunately, “rainbow-washing” for the month of June completely undermines the cause for equality and liberation. Disney, for example, took to social media with an obsequious acknowledgement of Pride Month: “there’s room for everyone under the rainbow.”

Meanwhile, many Disney villains have been queer-coded: instead of being explicitly referenced as queer characters, they have been assigned stereotypical subtexts which are immediately recognised by the audience.

For example, Ursula is based off of the drag queen Divine, and is portrayed as sexual with a husky voice and exaggerated makeup. Radcliffe from Pocahuntas has his obsession with both glittery clothes and his pet dog, and also avoids manual labour.

Disney’s problematic narratives, which tie in with both homophobia and the issues of gender identities, directly act as a hypocrisy to their apparent “esprit de corps” with the LGBTQ+ community.

To tackle this problem of rainbow-washing, we must stop supporting these greedy corporations who are plastering their products and social media with rainbows without addressing deep-rooted issues within their companies.

By supporting small, independent businesses, especially those run by members of the community, we can help reshape the economy towards fairness. This would also recompense those who have been oppressed economically as well as socially, with the gay wage gap still very much persisting: gay men earn 11% less than their heterosexual counterparts, and lesbian women earn 9% less.

The University of Bristol student community is becoming increasingly diverse in terms of members of the LGBTQ+ community: a recent Tab article highlighted that Bristol is the 8th “gayest uni.”

The University needs to do more to address the harmful toxicity of the "banter" culture in Bristol

However, as recently addressed by Matthew Lu writing for The Croft, loneliness due to the heteronormative culture of the University is something all too familiar to an LGBTQ+ student.

The University needs to do more to address the harmful toxicity of the “banter” culture in Bristol, as those who identify as LGBTQ+ are disproportionately affected by mental health issues.

This is proven by the Stonewall charity, who revealed that 13% of LGBT people aged 18-24 attempted to take their own life in 2018. It is important for the whole Bristol community to act compassionately and stand together.

Let's celebrate what Pride is really about: equality

Bristol Pride this year will see a Bristol Pride Comedy Night on Thursday 15th July at Lakota Gardens, featuring fantastic LGBTQ+ talents, including Jayde Adams, Larry Dean, Sophie Duker, Jessica Fostekew and Quimprov Players. All proceeds from the tickets, which are £60, go directly to supporting Bristol Pride’s fundraising efforts.

Circomedia are also holding a Pride Circus Night on Friday 16th July for £15 a ticket, showcasing LGBTQ+ talent. Some events are still being held online, and the coronavirus pandemic has meant that celebrations have been significantly restricted for the last two years, causing extreme sadness within the community.

The pandemic has also had a detrimental effect on the Pride movement. Controversy over the NHS's use of the rainbow flag as well as an inability to celebrate Pride last year has arguably taken the wind out of the movement's sails. This year, let's swap Disney plus for Lakota Gardens and celebrate what Pride is really about: equality.

Featured image: Unsplash/Robin Worrall