City, News

Boston celebrates Pride month while weary of corporate support

As Boston recognizes Pride month in June, there is a cautious eye on how companies and organizations display support for the celebrations.

Katy Collins, interim director of Boston University’s LGBTQIA+ Student Resource Center, said before Pride month starts, many companies capitalize on the opportunity to support the LGBTQIA+ community to gain customer attention.

Many global, large companies express support for Pride throughout June, such as with changes or additions to their logo, website, social media and in-person stores, said Kabir Sinha-Mehta, the executive vice president of outreach for BU Pride in Business.

Collins said corporate support for the LGBTQ+ community during Pride month can feel like a “performance,” which is “not valuable” to the LGBTQIA+ community.

“All of a sudden, every company has a rainbow-washed logo,” Collins said. “But, if you’re contributing funding, and as a company, your values are about inclusivity and equity, and you’re working to make sure that your policies are equitable, that’s different.”

Sinha-Mehta referred to this as “pink-washing.” Sinha-Mehta defines “pink-washing” as an individual or company “showering” oneself in an image of being inclusive “for the sake of being perceived as accepting, but in reality, it’s the contrary.”

“Pink-washing is a really big thing, especially in Pride month, because companies want to get brownie points from people,” Sinha-Mehta said. “Companies that pretend to support queerhood for the sake of supporting queerhood as a trend. And so they will change their logo to the rainbow. They’ll tweet out hashtag Pride month … but they don’t actually care about us.”

Sinha-Mehta said while some businesses show support to follow a “trend,”  other organizations tend to be “genuine” in their support for queer people.

For example, BU’s LGBTQIA+ Student Resource Center hosted many pride events in April, as “more students are on campus in April rather than June,” Collins said.

People dance at a Pride month celebration hosted by Boston Pride For The People in June 2023. As Boston residents prepare for the city’s Pride month events, they also acknowledge the performative allyship of companies and organizations. TAYLOR COESTER/DFP FILE

The center will also host a festival on the BU Beach on June 28, and the Medical Campus participated in Boston’s pride parade on June 8, Collins said.

Gay for Good is a nonprofit organization that aims to raise LGBTQIA+ representation by bringing people together and creating a community. The nonprofit has service projects planned throughout June, including assisting the Friends of the Boston Public Garden, according to Dan Soszynski, Boston’s chapter leader of G4G.

“Pride month is an important month to celebrate and make sure that organizations, like Gay for Good, are visible in the larger community,” said Soszynski. “Sometimes, organizations that are focused on the LGBT community only receive visibility during the month of June … so it’s important for folks to know about us in our activities throughout the year.”

The Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ+ Advancement “develops policies, community-oriented programming and provides resources” for Boston’s LGBTQ+ community, according to the City of Boston.

A lot of the Pride month events are hosted by organizations and supported by the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ+ Advancement, said Community Relations Specialist Candace Nguyen.

Nguyen said the role of the team during Pride month is to ensure LGBTQIA+ organizations receive the “support they need while navigating City Hall-like procedures,” such as the correct permits to plan events.

To add, the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ+ Advancement and Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture hosted the annual Boston Pride Kick-Off on date and Flag Raising on June 3.

More Articles

Comments are closed.