Brands Going Beyond the Rainbow-wash

Brands Going Beyond the Rainbow-wash

Friday, June 4, 2021 - 11:25am

As we start to celebrate Pride Month, the growing call from consumers for brands to avoid “rainbow-washing” is substantive. And with every rainbow-branded product, individuals are looking under the hood to find out if and how the company is truly supporting the LGBTQIA+ community. This demand for action is ever increasing, with the consequence of not doing so potentially leading to being canceled. Here is a roundup of brands starting the month off strong with initiatives lifting up all parts of LGBTQIA+ culture.

  • H&M launched its “Beyond the Rainbow” initiative to go past the celebrations of the month and focus on the “powerful stories that give it such meaning.” The retail store created a web-based app that allows individuals to scan any Pride Flag, in-store or out, to access personal narratives curated from LGBTQIA+ influencers, partners and even H&M’s own employees. These accounts tell “of love and hate, of growing up and coming out, of finding true love wherever and whoever you are and celebrating everyone's right to be themselves.” The brand will also continue its yearly partnership with The Trevor Project with a matching campaign through the end of the month.
  • Reebok is bringing attention to and supporting a specific group of the LGBTQIA+ community, ballroom culture. The footwear brand launched its Fierceness Isn’t Born. It’s Made campaign and film that features Willi Ninja, creator of LGBTQIA+ safe-haven and ballroom/voguing capital, House of Ninja. The campaign’s employee-designed 2021 Pride clothing and shoe line also carries on the brand’s All Types of Love manifesto that was incorporated in the previous year’s Pride collection. Furthermore, Rebook is donating $75,000 to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project “to honor, uplift, and affirm the TGNCI community.”
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill launched its first ever “Queen of Pride” contest that celebrates drag culture while donating to LGBTQIA+ organizations. The fast food brand teamed up with drag queens Trixie Mattel, Gottmik and Kim Chi to create their own entrees that customers ‘vote’ for through purchasing. For each order of the featured dishes, Chipotle will donate $1 to the star’s chosen charity, with the winner receiving a further $10,000 to contribute. On June 13th, “the fierce trio will perform comedic bits, showcase their Chipotle-fied looks, provide info on their charity partners, talk up their go-to Chipotle orders, and banter about the Queen of Pride competition.”

Although Pride month can be a moment of expression, celebration and joy, it also acts as a rallying cry that there is still work to be done to protect the LGBTQIA+ community from discrimination and systemic oppression. Specifically, many have called on brands to directly engage in speaking out against the growing amount of anti-trans legislation across the country. Pride Month is yet another moment in time where brands must transcend words of support or rainbow-emblazoned products to create true change.