Rainbows everywhere - what's behind rainbow washing?

Rainbows everywhere - was steckt hinter Rainbow-Washing?

What exactly is Pride Month?

June is also Pride Month. This month there are a lot of events by and for people from the LGBTQ+ community! Many of these focus on promoting their rights, visibility and acceptance. Most CSD or completely Christopher Street Day days take place in June. During Pride Month, numerous events, parades, demonstrations, educational and cultural events take place that celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and raise awareness of their concerns.

The roots of Pride Month can be found in the riots surrounding the Stonewall Inn bar in New York. The first demonstrations against discrimination and ongoing police violence against LGBTQ+ people took place here in 1969. Here people took to the streets to demonstrate for their rights and safety. These events are considered an important milestone in the LGBTQ+ movement and provided the impetus for today's Pride Month.

This month is actually about giving a voice to a community that is still not seen, heard or wanted in many parts of the world and society. It is intended to show queer people that they have a right to security, existence and acceptance. However, many companies now also use the month to collect points from the LGBTQ+ community, even if they are not behind it. Jan Böhmermann also recently criticized this.

The rainbow flag

A symbol of the LGBTQ is the rainbow flag, also known as the pride flag. This became a symbol in 1978 when Harvey Milk, the first out gay man to hold public office in the United States, searched for a symbol.
He commissioned Gilbert Baker to design a positive symbol for the queer community. There were already signs for the queer community before, for example the pink triangle that Nazis used to mark gay or queer men in concentration camps.

The flag consists of six colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple and represents the diversity of sexual orientations and gender identities.

The rainbow flag is worn by many to show their own membership in the LGBTQ+ community, but also to show queer people that they are supported.

Marketing strategy: rainbow

As soon as June begins, many companies change their profile pictures to rainbow. Large brands such as Deutsche Bahn, Starbucks, McDonald's and REWE fly the rainbow flag. They often publish special articles on the topic of Pride this month or donate to LGBTQ+ organizations. That actually sounds good - but unfortunately there is often a corporation behind it that, in the best case, wants to capitalistically enrich itself from the LGBTQ+ community, and in the worst case, these companies support politicians who speak out against LGBTQ+ rights or discriminate against queer employees for the remaining 11 months . Last year, the American website https://www.dataforprogress.org/accountable-allies published a list of companies that use the months to gain customers, but otherwise donate to anti-queer politicians. These include Toyota, AT&T, Amazon, PayPal and Comcast.

These brands are rainbow washing. They use the rainbow flag to show support for and also attract the community. However, these brands neither stand for equality nor for the rights of queer people. It's a marketing strategy in which companies try to capitalize on positive perceptions of the LGBTQ+ movement without actually doing anything substantive for the community.

Is rainbow washing dangerous?

Through rainbow washing, companies can reach customers who then support something that goes against their own values. However, that is only the superficial problem. These companies try to make amends for the problems of the rest of the year in one month, but often no lasting measures are taken during this month, only to gain public attention. The LGBTQ+ symbol is used to distract from other negative practices or grievances. It can also be compared to greenwashing, where companies want to appear environmentally friendly without taking actual sustainable measures. Rainbow washing undermines the authenticity and credibility of companies as it is often viewed as an opportunistic attempt to exploit the LGBTQ+ community for financial gain.

Lack of Support: Rainbow-washing distracts attention from real issues facing the LGBTQ+ community. By presenting themselves as LGBTQ+ friendly without offering real support, companies can reduce awareness of important issues such as discrimination, equality and LGBTQ+ rights.

Can you recognize these companies?

Many of these companies are publicly pilloried, including recently by moderator Jan Böhmermann. In general, a quick search on social media often helps to identify which brands are there with heart or just in the image department.

Actions over symbols : Companies that take Pride seriously often have more than a few rainbows on social media. They take this topic seriously and show it. Many companies use June to raise funds or draw attention to their programs for queer people. Even if brands work with openly queer artists or spokespersons.

Credibility and Transparency: Companies should be honest and transparent about what they do for the LGBTQ+ community. This can also be easily understood digitally

Products by queer people for queer people

By the way, Naturally Naughty is for the LGBTQ+ community 12 months a year. Our products can be used with any gender. Queer needs were also already present during product development. Our rainbow comes from the heart!

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