It’s Pride Month, the time of year when corporations do their very best to prove just how supportive they are.
Rainbows are everywhere: in clothing stores, on public storefronts, and on nearly every brand logo on Twitter. And while some of the profits from specialty Pride merchandise do go to worthy nonprofits, other brands donate a paltry amount, and some merch is simply used to generate additional profit. (It’s worth noting as well that many companies that plaster their brands with rainbows for Pride also donate large sums to politicians who actively oppose LGBTQ rights.)
Then there’s the merch and branding that just takes it a step too far. Either these products are far too corny for public consumption, or the brands themselves are too hypocritical to be involved.
As a queer person, I’ll be the first one to admit that I personally love earth tones too much to ever wear something rainbow. Still, there is rainbow gear that I’m comfortable with — like a rainbow T-shirt, for example. Then there’s rainbow merch that takes it too far, like queer seltzer. Though I’ve faced discrimination at various points throughout my life for being queer, I’ve always felt accepted by the seltzer community, and have never really needed carbonated beverages to be my ally.
If brands are going to participate in Pride Month, they need to set artistic limits. There are some products that are just too bland and should never be branded queer while, elsewhere, some merch is just far too glaringly rainbow for the human eye.
Here are some of the most over-the-top Pride products and brands of 2019. While some of this merch has been released in earlier years, all were released or re-released this year and deserve public attention.
At least the rainbow breaks up the red.
Image: trump make america great again committee
Between banning trans people from the military, nominating a host of federal judges who are opposed to LGBTQ rights, and attempting to eliminate protections for transgender people in homeless shelters, the Trump administration has set a distinctly anti-LGBTQ agenda. It’s particularly galling to see the Trump campaign market these $35 hats as they roll back queer and trans rights.
And frankly, just from an aesthetic perspective, this is way too much color for one hat. Do better, Trump campaign hat designers. Proceeds from this hat aren’t even going to any nonprofits.
Finally, LGBTQ water.
As a queer person, I’ve always felt fairly comfortable navigating the sparkling water community. I have yet to be personally rejected by Perrier or Pellegrino. I’m not sure why Bubly decided to brand their products for Pride, but here they are.
At least Bubly has decided to partner with the Stonewall Community Foundation, which provides grant-making, training, and scholarship opportunities, to the LGBTQ community. An 18-pack of 12-ounce cans is available on Amazon for $10.44.
Queer … mouthwash?
Image: screenshot / target
When Listerine mouthwash released their Pride antiseptic this spring, queer Twitter understandably erupted and accused the brand of corporate pandering. I’m gay, and I definitely don’t need mouthwash to accept me.
Kudos to Listerine’s parent company Johnson & Johnson for at least operating their Care with Pride program, which has given over $1 million to LGBTQ nonprofits since 2011.
LGBT people: “it’d be nice if people could stop abusing us when we hold hands in public, we could teach LGBT lessons in schools and if the BBC could stop debating our existence on live air that’d be grea-
Capitalism: “what we’re really sensing here is you want your own sandwich” pic.twitter.com/uIixEel2pq
— Louis Staples (@LouisStaples) May 3, 2019
British grocery chain Marks & Spencer (M&S) introduced this sandwich in the spring, prompting hilarious amounts of outrage on Twitter. Frankly, I’m a little disappointed the brand didn’t do more to incorporate the “Q” part of LGBTQ. The chain could have easily incorporated an all-time delicious treat, queso, into the sandwich.
However you feel about the sandwich, M&S is nonetheless donating £20,000 to akt, a British LGBTQ+ youth homelessness nonprofit, and €1000 to BeLonG To Youth Services, which serves LGBTQ young people in Ireland.
5. The Budweiser Pride collection
As someone who genuinely prefers cheap, tasteless beers, I have nothing against Budweiser. But Budweiser overdid Pride this year. The Budweiser UK account tweeted out photos of various bottles stylized specifically for the different identities that make up the LGBTQ community, including: bisexuals, pansexuals, and asexual folks. American Budweiser introduced a rainbow bottle collection.
For every rainbow Bud Light bottle sold, Anheuser-Busch will donate $1 to GLAAD, one of the largest LGBTQ nonprofits in the country.
Excited to reveal we are now proud sponsors of Pride in London! We are working closely with them and our charity partners to celebrate the diversity within the LGBT+ community and Fly the Flag for everyone at the #PrideJubilee
A taste of what’s to come… pic.twitter.com/g1FYlXqJJk
— Budweiser UK (@BudweiserUK) May 31, 2019
The whole thing was just too damn much.
Image: Dr. Martens
Growing up goth in my teens, I was attached to my pair of black Dr. Martens. And honestly, I’m saddened that the brand chose such a vibrant aesthetic to celebrate LGBTQ pride. They could have found another way to recognize Pride Month without cheapening their goth cred. These shoes, among other Pride products, are available for $145 on the brand’s site.
Dr. Martens will be donating a portion of the proceeds from this boot to the Trevor Project, a nonprofit that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth.
At least there’s no rainbow here
Image: screenshot / american Apparel
I applaud American Apparel for donating 100 percent of the proceeds from their Pride collection to the Los Angeles LGBT center. I just can’t get over this particular bizarre shirt they’ve sold before but have incorporated into their Pride Month collection, which includes the following words banned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: diversity, transgender, evidence-based, science-based, fetus, entitlement, and vulnerable.
Still, this shirt is available for the relatively affordable price of $24.
Gay pride abs
Image: screenshot / abercrombie
This Pride Month, Abercrombie & Fitch will be donating proceeds (up to $100,000) from their Pride collection and Fierce cologne line to the Trevor Project, a suicide intervention and crisis prevention nonprofit serving the LGBTQ community. The nonprofit is good, but using one man’s chiseled abs and an extremely corny cologne name to earn that initial profit is bad.
A 6.7-ounce bottle of Fierce cologne will set you back $138.
Queer gummies, y’all
Image: screenshot / plus products
I can’t speak for everyone, but I personally have not felt discriminated against by the CBD gummy community. For folks looking for representation in the world of cannabis products (this particular one also contains 5 milligrams of THC), you have this these Gummies from Plus Products, available exclusively in California.
Plus Products will donate $1 from every tin sold to the San Francisco LGBT Center.
YouTube has come under fire from the LGBTQ community in the past month
Image: screenshot / youtube
Few brands have faced more criticism for failing to protect the LGBTQ community this month than YouTube. The company, who rainbow-ized their Twitter avatar and released a slate of Pride-themed documentaries this year, was slammed after they refused to take down YouTuber Stephen Crowder’s anti-gay videos targeting Carlos Maza. LGBTQ creators have also accused the platform of not doing enough to curb harassment.
For Pride Month this year, YouTube promoted and supported three original LGBTQ documentaries and made them all available on the free, ad-supported side of the platform.
If YouTube — or any of these brands, really — want to celebrate Pride, they need to better serve the LGBTQ community internally. Or at least be a little less corny.
If you want to talk to someone or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For international resources, this list is a good place to start.