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As Pride Month Ends, July Whisks Rainbow-Themed Products Off the Shelves

Camila Pedrosa and Sam Parker

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In downtown San Francisco, rainbow flags engulf most buildings throughout June. Prominent establishments showcase their support for the LGBTQ community through pride-inspired merchandise visible in nearly every store window. The echoes of a progressive movement resonate throughout the city.
Yet, as the rainbow whirlwind of June winds down, the feeling of visibility and acceptance that Pride month might generate slips away. Many companies quickly whisk rainbow flags and LGBTQ-themed products off the shelves, revealing the true colors of their allyship.

Many brands and public figures have become the target of criticism in recent years due to their approach to Pride month.
U.S. President Donald Trump is known for selling his famous tagline, “Make America Great Again” as part of merchandise on his website. Last June, President Trump has introduced a clothing line with his slogan in rainbow font, encouraging his supporters to show “support for the LGBT community and the 45th President with this exclusive Make America Great Again Pride T-Shirt,” according to his official website.
Although the merchandise encompasses the LGBTQ community, President Trump’s policies and statements have often proved otherwise. A few months after taking office, in January 2017, his administration decried the Equality Act, which proposed sexual orientation and gender identity should become part of the civil rights law. The president described the Act as “filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights.”
Besides showing dissent towards the Equality Act, President Trump has introduced legislation such as the transgender military ban as part of his anti-LGBTQ agenda. While the legislation doesn’t outright disallow those who identify as transgender, all who enlist must serve in the uniform, sleep in the barracks and use the pronouns of the gender they were assigned at birth, erasing their transgender identity.
Despite his LGBTQ-oriented products, President Trump’s policies have had the opposite effect in the country. According to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) support for the LGBTQ community among young adults has declined in the past year. The percentage of people who identify as “very” or “somewhat” comfortable around certain LGBTQ-related scenarios dropped from 53% to 45%.
Many brands have also come under fire in recent years due to their approach to Pride month. Although throughout June 2018 Adidas sold “Pride Packs” comprised of various pieces of merchandise, the next month it sponsored the FIFA World Cup in Russia, despite the country’s anti-LGBTQ laws.
Adidas’ support toward the nation that established these homophobic institutions, along with their profit-oriented position in the Pride movement, represents their duplicity, according to Maritza Martinez, the executive director of Somos Familia, an organization focused on… Martínez believes this policy is “exploitative in the way that corporations treat LGBTQ+ Pride,” further adding that their actions are simply “profit-motivated advertising titles.”
John Max Byrne, a rising sophomore at Priory High School in Portola Valley, Calif. concedes that the clothes these companies sell can be very stylish, but he also argues that “most of them are doing it for the profit.”
“[They] are just trying to improve ratings from using phrases like ‘we accept everyone’ and ‘love is love’,” Byrne says.
Disney is yet another company that has received criticism for their handling of LGBTQ representation. The multibillion dollar corporation sells various forms of Pride merchandise, from rainbow Mickey ears to various jewelry items. Disney states that 10% of the profits from these sales are donated to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), an organization dedicated to establishing safe communities for LGBTQ youth. Yet, Disney has often been accused of neglecting the LGBTQ community.

Although the upcoming film “Jungle Cruise” will feature the company’s first openly gay character, many members of the LGBTQ community are outraged that Jack Whitehall, a heterosexual actor, has been cast in the role.
Byrne echoes this sentiment, saying that Disney has an obligation to “represent more LGBTQ+ characters in a more obvious and blatant way,” and expresses concern for the fact that the company “never confirms nor do they obviously show a character’s sexual orientation.”
According to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s 2018 Studio Responsibility Index report, Disney has frequently “erased a character’s queer identity as they moved from page to screen.”
However, some people do not see Disney’s approach as problematic. Moira Marek looks at supports from corporations differently than Byrne.
“There’s no problem with it as long as it’s bringing attention to the cause,” Marek says.

About the Writer
Photo of Sam Parker
Sam Parker, Staff Writer

Sam Parker is a rising junior at Sunnyslope High School in Phoenix, Arizona. She is a founder of the Phoenix chapter of March For Our Lives, and is also...

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As Pride Month Ends, July Whisks Rainbow-Themed Products Off the Shelves