Corporate Pride

A few days ago I went to the mall. Boy was that a mistake. Not only are impoverished homosexuals prohibited in shopping malls, but now I am going to write the entry that finally at long last will alienate the rest of my readership. What I saw in that mall was supposed to be inspiring, but it made me real angry.

The stores had all decided that this was Rainbow Month. They festooned their displays with full-color posters and platitudes about Diversity! Celebration! Equality! Love being Love! and of course Pride! Pride! Pride!

I was supposed to be heartened by this. I was supposed to be glad that we went from being the enemy to being celebrated by retail outlets. I think the vast majority of these companies don’t care one bit about us. We all know exactly why they turned June into Rainbow Month. Do I need to spell it out for you? Fine. D-I-S-P-O-S-A-B-L-E I-N-C-O-M-E. The companies think that if they represent us they’ll get our pink dollars. And we fall for it again and again. The worst part is that I am no better than anyone else. Put a g-ddamn bear paw on something and I’ll be drooling with consumerist lust. Advertise a product with some woofy spokesperson and I’ll buy whatever is being sold. But just because I am gullible does not make this practice ethical.

Marketing to gullible queers is one thing. Doing so under the pretense of allyship is something else. If some corporation is going to claim that love is love and that it is proud to support diversity, said corporation had better be damn well prepared to back those claims up. In 2019 Lurkistan, the gays are beloved and Pride is cool, so it is the easiest thing in the world to market your allyship — and you appeal to those progressive straights who want to show they love the gays too! Where were you in 1989 Lurkistan, when gays were still dying of AIDS because drug cocktails had not been invented yet? Were you supportive allies then? Were you providing healthcare for your sick employees? Were you tending to their hospice needs? Or were you firing them as soon as you found out they were gay, because you had an image to maintain and a reputation to protect? Where was your pride then?

How about in the early 2000s, when gay marriage had not been legalized yet? Were you providing same-sex health and insurance benefits to the partners of your gay employees? Or were you arguing that offering same-sex benefits were too expensive and too complicated? Were you festooning your stores with rainbows and pride displays? Or were you too apprehensive about scaring off the straights?

Okay, fine. I am being totally unreasonable. Corporations have gone on a learning journey just like the rest of us, and now they are much more understanding and tolerant of sexual and gender diversity than they once were. Are they supporting their employees as they transition, by funding hormones and surgeries via insurance benefits? For that matter, are they even supporting their trans customers by insisting on gender-neutral bathrooms in those aforementioned malls?

Okay, maybe supporting trans people is too difficult. How about poly people? Does any employer anywhere support benefits for complicated families with several primary partners? If one member of a triad gets sick, can that person depend on the benefits provided by one of their partners’ employer? No? That would be too expensive? Too complicated? Too prone to abuse? Where have I heard those arguments before?

Okay, let’s forget about those weird poly people. How about those regular old gays and lesbians, the kind you are proud to support? How about those gays and lesbians that are persecuted in foreign countries, including some of the foreign countries in which you do business? Aren’t a bunch of those t-shirts you sell manufactured in Bangladesh? As of this writing, LBGTQ+ rights in Bangladesh are not good. How about that wonderfully soft Egyptian cotton? How are gay rights there? Oh, but you couldn’t advocate and pressure local governments on LGBTQ+ issues. That would be colonialist in a way that regulatory capture for your financial interests would not.

Okay, improving the conditions in an entire country seems difficult. You do know that some of those Bangladeshis who sew your fancy t-shirts are themselves gay, right? Are you doing anything to make sure they are safe from persecution? What’s that? They aren’t actual employees of your company? You have no jurisdiction on how they are treated? That’s just too bad.

Funny, isn’t it. Any time supporting gay rights or being an ally would cost you money or require some political courage, you shy away. You have all kinds of nice lip service for the affluent gays who have money to spend, but are you willing to put your principles where your mouth is? Do you even put up your pretty rainbow displays in the Southern United States just as you do in progressive Lurkistan? (The majority of you are multinational, after all.) If you are not willing to do these things, then maybe you really aren’t an ally. Maybe the next time we become stigmatized or unprofitable, you’ll throw us under the bus too.

And that, Virginia, is why impoverished homosexuals are not permitted in shopping malls.

(Of course, dear readers, your favorite shopping establishment is a true ally which does things properly. Right? If you asked these questions of that establishment, surely it would pass with flying colors. Right? Right?)

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