It’s that time of the year when the LGBTQ+ community celebrates who they are. As much as I would like to participate in Pride, I simply can’t because corporations have taken over the movement for profit.
Every June, more and more brands are slapping rainbow filters over their logos and tweeting vacuous expressions of support for the community, all in the name of boosting sales. Pride fries, anyone?
During Pride Month, many seem to forget that corporations operate with one thing in mind — profit. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. Corporations have a legal and ethical responsibility to deliver profits to shareholders.
So, when corporations participate in Pride Month, they’re doing what they do best — reaping profits off the historical struggles of marginalized communities.
Pride began as a celebration of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, when the New York City LGBTQ+ community fought back against police harassment at the Stonewall Inn and kicked off liberation movements around the country.
Today’s Pride has been appropriated by the same homophobic institutions it once sought to overthrow.
Just last week, Corporate America showed its true feelings toward the LGBTQ+ community when YouTube refused to take action against homophobic hate speech against journalist Carlos Maza.
Maza, who is gay, hosts a Vox Media video series called Strikethrough on YouTube. In these videos, Maza gives constructive breakdowns of current or historical social events.
Steven Crowder, a conservative YouTuber that runs a commentary channel called Louder with Crowder, has consistently released videos responding to Maza’s series and “debunking” Strikethrough.
Crowder’s rebuttals rely on his use of derogatory language against Maza’s sexuality, referring to him as “lispy queer” and “gay Mexican.”
Even in the clear violation of YouTube’s own harassment policy, the platform did nothing to stop Crowder’s homophobic videos. YouTube lists “content deliberately posted in order to humiliate someone,” which Crowder grossly violated.
Maza, in a viral Twitter thread, described how YouTube dismissed his repeated attempts to remove Crowder’s harassment from their platform.
I’m not here to argue how YouTube should generally handle harassment on its platform. YouTube is a private company and has the right to decide what it will and will not allow on its platform.
But, YouTube already has a policy that prohibits the exact sort of homophobic harassment Maza is experiencing. YouTube's deliberately choosing not to enforce that policy.
Instead, YouTube is prioritizing the ad revenue produced by Crowder’s nearly 4 million subscribers over the community that it pretends to care about for one month every year.
This month, corporations will be slapping the Pride flag over their logo, getting thousands of likes on Instagram then patting themselves on the back for a job well done.
For me, Pride is no longer what it used to be.
It’s become an empty movement, a commodity wrapped in rainbow flags and sold to us by the corporate class.
June is supposed to make me feel proud of who I am. Instead, it makes me resent the system that exploits me.