Windy City Times usually receives its fair share of emails—hundreds each day. However, starting in late May that number increases exponentially, as June is Pride Month.
Believe me, we love the fact that companies and businesses take action to support LGBTQ+ individuals, organizations and events. However, we wonder how much of the support is based on the almighty dollar instead of genuine emotion/passion.
The LGBTQ+ advocacy organization GLAAD recently issued its recommendations for corporate allies. They include hiring more LGBTQ+ people, joining political struggles, supporting LGBTQ+ media through advertisements (hello!) and more.
Back when Windy City Times had weekly and biweekly print issues, the Pride Month issues ballooned with ads; however, the other months of the year had us scrounging for ads. (By the way, this also included many political candidates—some who had no connection to LGBTQ+ groups or causes when they weren’t running for office.) As a free newspaper in print since 1985 and online since 1994, ads were and are the only way we pay the bills.
Being an ally (individual or corporate) also involves respecting boundaries and showing respect. This could be tied in with training, but even getting someone’s pronouns correct could be a sign of solidarity. I can’t tell you the number of times people have bemoaned the fact that they’ve been called one particular pronoun—especially after making it clear they would rather be referred to as another. Practicing inclusivity and helping marginalized people aren’t things to be practiced one month out of the year. There is room at the metaphorical table before and after June.
This kind of corporate pandering is not unique to LGBTQ+ causes. Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Cinco de Mayo and recently—in very unfortunate ways—Juneteenth have been exploited by corporate America. Really, we can do without the specially flavored ice cream and rainbow-colored shoelaces. What we want is equality.
Perhaps the worst of all is the token support of LGBTQ+ rights just done in LGBTQ+ spaces, while out of their other pockets, these corporations give far more to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians and causes. This isn’t just about Chick-fil-A and its legendary support of the anti-LGBTQ+ contingent; it is also about corporate America supporting politicians who are more than happy to bring this country back to a pre-civil rights era, where people of color, women, LGBTQ+ people and others are without support, education, health care, safety and more.
Do not pander to our community with your dollars and rainbow flags when you support politicians who back anti-trans laws, the “don’t say gay” laws, anti-choice legislation, or a myriad of other efforts to bend the arc of the moral universe back 200 years.
We do appreciate the actions of LGBTQ+-supportive companies. At times, major corporations have done the right thing and stood up against homophobic and transphobic actions and laws. But we are living and breathing 365 days a year, not just June 1-30. We need corporations on the right side of history when the going gets tough, not just during a Pride parade.
This is a movement—not a moment.
Tracy Baim is co-founder of Windy City Times. Andrew Davis is executive editor.