It is Pride Month, which means businesses are festooned with rainbow flags and feel-good slogans about inclusion and acceptance. If you are anything like me, the innocent soul in you may feel warmth at the visual abundance of love thrown our way — especially when you think about the struggle the queer community has gone through to receive acceptance.
Though, it is important to not be fooled into buying every piece of rainbow merch you see — especially when the trans community is still struggling to have their basic rights respected and when queer people of all stripes still face persecution in 71 countries worldwide.
There is, however, a way to still feel good about the Pride merch you are purchasing.
Using Progressive Shopper — a browser that shows you who your money supports — and some of my own research, I present this guide on some of the pride campaigns taking place this season: who to support, who to avoid, and where to be cautious.
I will also be listing some more local, Canadian-based businesses supporting Pride both this month and year-round, including regular partners of Vancouver Pride.
Due to a lack of current information about Pride merch, I will not be including IKEA or Starbucks on this list, but since both companies have a well-known history of supporting the community, rest assured you can feel confident about spending money there.
Campaigns to support:
LEGO: As you may have heard, LEGO recently released their “Everyone is Awesome” set to celebrate Pride Month. The set was designed by LEGO’s Vice President of Design Matthew Ashton to celebrate the 2SLGBTQ+ community within the LEGO Group and among the brand’s adult fans.They included the progress pride flag as a template, which is always appreciated. LEGO has shown to be a consistent donor to progressive causes and partners with Workplace Pride, Stonewall, and Open for Business to create strategies to support LGBTQ+ employees and their allies across the company. In my book, that is an absolute win.
Levi’s: Levi’s is also releasing their Pride collection this month, and while you can expect the usual rainbow merch, theirs has an additional feature that puts all other pride clothing collections to shame. In addition to making a yearly donation to OutRight Action International, which works to advance the rights of the LGBTQ+ community worldwide, Levi’s is allowing customers to customize certain clothing items on their website. Outside of a slight hiccup in flagging “lesbian” as an inappropriate term to add to custom clothes, which was quickly and thankfully corrected, these features combined with Levi’s consistent support for progressive causes makes this a top recommendation.
Vans: It is kind of a running joke among some queer girls that Vans are a surefire way to let other single sapphics know, “Hey, I’m gay too!” So, it makes sense that Vans would release a collection demonstrating a clear knowledge of their audience. All jokes aside, whatever you might think of the design of these items, Vans is donating $200,000 during Pride to queer organizations worldwide, including GLSEN, and donates consistently to progressive causes the other 11 months of the year. So, you can feel good about picking up some rainbow merch here — even if it is not the shoes, in which case, fair enough.
Companies to be cautious about:
Disney: This year, Disney is releasing a Pride collection featuring all the brands under their umbrella. Many of us grew up with Disney and would love to have a piece of our childhood made for us. However, given their support of anti-abortion politicians, which puts many queer and trans people at risk, and the slow progress of queer representation in Disney’s media, I would suggest doing so at your discretion.
Converse: Much like Vans, Converse is seen by many as a sapphic as a form of signalling to other sapphics that you are gay. Converse is also releasing a Pride collection this month that includes shoes and t-shirts, some of which are customizable. Unlike Vans, however, Converse gives equal amounts of support to pro- and anti-LGBTQ+ politicians in the United States. So, as tragic as that is, it would be best to spend your money elsewhere this Pride season — or until Converse takes the hint.
Companies to avoid:
New Balance: New Balance’s Canadian outpost is releasing a Pride collection this year, featuring art by Hong Kong-based artist Zoie Lam. Of course, one must wonder how their employees feel about that since the company donates almost exclusively to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians in the U.S. One thing is for certain: you can let New Balance know how you feel about this hypocrisy by taking your money elsewhere.
Bud Light: If there is one subset of corporations that can be reliably counted on to capitalize on Pride, it is alcohol companies. Bud Light is no exception. To their credit, their Canadian outpost commits annually to Rainbow Railroad, an organization committed to helping LGBTQ+ refugees escape persecution worldwide. Unfortunately, they are still an outpost of a company that donates a substantial portion of their money to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians in the U.S. Best to spend your money elsewhere.
Amazon: Where do I even begin? Whether it is dozens of U.S.-based anti-LGBTQ+ organizations fundraising on their online donation platform or selling anti-LGBTQ+ materials, there are many instances of Amazon’s shameless pinkwashing during Pride month. If you want to order Pride merch online this year, best to skip Amazon and go directly to the source. Quicker shipping is never worth adding more wealth to Jeff Bezos’ wallet.
Local Companies to Support This Pride:
Purdy’s: Who doesn’t love chocolate? Purdy’s is selling a set of Pride-themed chocolate boxes this June, with $5 from each purchase going to The Get REAL Movement to combat homophobia, racism, and bullying in schools, summer camps, and workplaces. Not only are they a Vancouver-based company, but alongside other charitable partnerships, Purdy’s makes their chocolate with sustainable cocoa and supports on-the-ground programs dedicated to improving both the fields and the lives of their cocoa farmers. So, you can feel good about picking these up for your partner, or yourself — no judgement.
Stanley Park Brewing: If you’re looking for an alternative to Bud Light, you might take comfort in this local recommendation. Based, as the name suggests, in Stanley Park, Stanley Park Brewing makes a multitude of beers inspired by their surroundings and is a proud partner of Vancouver Pride. Plus, their brewery also features a gastropub that played host to a fabulous drag brunch last year — and will hopefully do so again this year.
Now that you have this guide, go forth and deck yourself in rainbows. Or not. That’s okay, too! Happy Pride!