Anything on the path to becoming mainstream goes through a stage of being faddish. That’s where LGBT culture is right now: still stigmatized, with states making laws specifically aimed at allowing businesses and services to avoid serving LGBT customers, but also highly profitable. This June has seen more businesses than ever decked out in rainbows, with glitter and bright colors brought to the storefront. Target has a unicorn display and pride flags in their dollar section. Starbucks sells rainbow travel mugs. Listerine comes in a rainbow bottle.
“Diversity and Inclusion are good for business, period,” said Jonathan Lovitz, VP of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, an organization that highlights queer-friendly travel destinations. Lovitz calls this retail wave “exciting.” It’s evidence that the public tide has turned far enough that supporting LGBT visibility is more profitable than ignoring it.
Some companies are certainly true allies. Flatrate Moving, along with New York City’s transit system are all in, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riot (the spark of modern LGBT activism) with decals and special edition metro cards.
Some are disingenuous. Chick-fil-A, the chicken restaurant whose owner openly donates to anti-LGBT campaigns around the world (including the one which led to death penalties for gay men in Uganda) put up rainbow posters.
Those critical of companies cashing in on the “pink dollar” tend to look at the activities of those companies outside of Pride Month. Verizon, for instance, has been partnered for two years with PFLAG, the oldest organization in the U.S. focused on helping LGBT people and their families. Verizon has helped the organization build programs and move resources into underserved communities.
Other stand-out companies include IKEA, Target, and AT&T. Conscientious consumers can check out any company on the HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index to see if they put their money where their rainbows are.