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Friday, May 24
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OPINION: This Pride Month, reject rainbow capitalism

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In the first five months of 2023, almost 500 anti-LGBTQ laws have been introduced across the U.S. So it was no surprise to me – nor, I’m sure, anyone else paying attention to the onslaught of anti-LGBTQ hate – when conservatives called for a Target boycott due to their Pride Month collection

Interestingly enough, I agree with the conservatives slightly here, but not for their obnoxious homophobia and transphobia. Why buy into Pride merch when the corporation has no real interest in LGBTQ issues?  

This was made incredibly clear when Target released a statement outlining why certain Pride merch would be taken off of shelves due to conservative backlash. Tuck-friendly swimwear and shorts with the words “not a phase” were apparently too much for some of the American public to swallow.  

But here is the slightly obvious and still incredibly unfortunate news:Target never had LGBTQ interests in mind. No company partaking in rainbow capitalism – the practice that much of corporate America involves itself in every June – is going to do much to further LGBTQ equality and solve real issues.  

[Related: OPINION: Transgender medical care shouldn't be banned – it should be free]

Target is just one example of the multitude of corporations that are capitalizing off of another marginalized community. Slap a rainbow on a hat or a pin and suddenly the company stands with and fights for all LGBTQ people.  

In 2022, Disney announced they were donating 100% of proceeds from the Disney Pride Collection to LGBTQ organizations after the introduction of Ron Desantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” bill. 

Even still, Disney was still just making themselves more marketable to another group of consumers.  

Disney beams at the fact that they have consistently high scores on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. But this index merely measures superficial policy and inclusive culture in a workplace, two things that are likely hard to characterize and calculate in a heteronormative, capitalist society.  

Moreover, the Human Rights Campaign comes under fire when it focuses more on marriage equality rather than trans healthcare issues and LGBTQ homelessness. Patriarchal capitalism prizes the straight, white male more than anyone else.  

Modern marriage, especially to LGBTQ people, is just another archaic institution. It’s meant to uphold the heterosexual husband and wife – it was never meant for LGBTQ couples and is not the win we often want it to be. At the end of the day, marriage is romantic and private until the state regulates reproduction and sexuality.  

I’m not saying you can’t buy a shirt full of rainbows and the word “queer” and accept and relish in your sexuality or gender identity. Your consumption is your business, I guess, and maybe that shirt is a genuine act of resistance for you.  

But LGBTQ rights and Pride Month must go further than consumption. When we buy into the rainbow, we aren’t fighting for the LGBTQ community like we think we are. Instead, we’re supporting corporations that were never for the marginalized in the first place. 

[Related: OPINION: Indiana legislators aren't listening]

So yes, visit the back of Target stores – where the Pride merch has reportedly been moved – and buy the “not a phase” shorts to make a statement if that’s what your heart desires. 

But do that as you make sure you’re registered to vote. As you donate what you can to LGBTQ organizations that matter to you. As you call on your state legislators to act. This Pride Month, don’t fall for the rainbow with a price tag. 

Elizabeth Valadez (she/her) is a junior studying English and political science with a minor in Spanish. 

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