Celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride Month amid a pandemic and a social justice revolution

June 16, 2020
4 min read

The month of June marks the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a significant turning point in the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. Typically, this milestone is celebrated with 30-days of parades, marches, and festivals. This year, however, Pride Month is looking very different. Many of the usual celebrations and festivities have been postponed or canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing restrictions. Additionally, in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the continuing global protests for racial justice, the typical celebrations of Pride month feel insensitive and tone-deaf. Despite the current state of the country, brands still have an opportunity to creatively participate in Pride celebrations and reinforce the genuineness of their support, which for some brands, has seemed inauthentic in the past.

According to Mintel research on marketing to LGBTQ+ communities, more than half of LGBTQ+ consumers feel that brands’ Pride marketing and merchandising in 2019 were inauthentic and rainbow-washing, rather than genuine. In recent years, brand participation in Pride has been reduced to simply releasing rainbow-edition products and advertising. However, many LGBTQ+ consumers see this as brands showing up just for the sake of money-making, with the majority of brands then failing to actively support the community year-round. Following the surge of brand responses to the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, consumers are primed to judge the authenticity and sincerity of brands’ participation in social movements. It’s never been more important for brands’ recognition of Pride to be genuine and tangible.

Taking Pride digital and intersectional

Reebok is one example of a brand that’s taking their Pride celebrations digital with their “All Types of Love” collection and its accompanying campaign, “Proud Notes.” Reebok’s campaign highlights how each member of the LGBTQ+ community has a unique story and journey that is shaped by their own intersectional identity. In “Proud Notes” Reebok features five different LGBTQ+ activists and influencers from a variety of different backgrounds, many of whom discuss the intersectionality of being queer and black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC). The brand invites consumers to celebrate Pride this year by telling their own LGBTQ+ friends and family why they’re proud of them.

Source: Kiehl’s Instagram

Cosmetics brand, Kiehl’s, quickly backtracked on their planned virtual Pride celebrations. The skincare brand was planning a virtual dance party on June 5th via InstagramLive featuring LGBTQ+ ambassadors, in addition to digital discussions throughout the month with advocates. In light of the recent protests against police brutality and racial violence, Kiehl’s announced on their Instagram that they would be postponing their planned digital celebrations. Instead, they announced their planned partnership and donation to The Trevor Project and highlighted that 90% of Black LGBTQ+ youth report having experienced racial discrimination. While they plan to reschedule their planned Pride celebrations, the brand explains they are using this time now to reflect, listen, and learn until their communities are ready to celebrate.

Source: FOX TV Instagram

FOX TV planned a month-long campaign, #TVForAll, to celebrate Pride month and to advocate for more inclusivity across the entertainment industry. While the network is still continuing with its planned campaign, it has pivoted to more directly address racial injustice and take into account the relevancy of Black Lives Matter within the LGBTQ+ community. Specifically, they are partnering with GLAAD to hold a digital roundtable with LGBTQ+ artists to discuss the evolution of representation in TV, and the impact of Black Lives Matter in entertainment and within the LGBTQ+ community.

What we think

This year, the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic and the pressing current conversations about racial oppression and violence are refocusing LGBTQ+ Pride Month. If anything, it’s taking Pride back to where it all began: the Stonewall Inn riots which were predominantly led by transgender people of color in retaliation of unjust police raiding. By taking Pride digital and utilizing this platform to amplify Black voices within the LGBTQ+ community, brands have an opportunity to prove their genuine activism. By refocusing Pride, brands can prove their support is more than just performative or tethered to the typical Pride celebrations. Pride is intersectional and continuous year-round, and brands should recognize and support that.

Lisa Dubina
Lisa Dubina

Lisa is Associate Director, Culture & Identity, on the Mintel Reports US team, responsible for creating reports focused on the underlying psychographic factors that impact how consumers identify and express themselves, as well as purchase behaviors across categories.

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