How NOT to do Pride


Ahh, Pride Month.

In North America and in many other parts of the world, the month of June celebrates the enormous strides we’ve made in LGBTQ+ rights. It is also a reminder that we still have a long way to go.

For businesses and large corporations choosing to take part in Pride month, it can be a strong statement that demonstrates the core values of the company. It can be a sign that people of all backgrounds, sexual preferences and gender identities are accepted and valued within the organization as clients and customers.

Over the years, we’ve seen more and more businesses come out with Pride-themed branding. Businesses and corporations participate in Pride month in a variety of ways. Some choose to support third-party LGBTQ+ charities and initiatives. Some sponsor and participate in Pride parades. Some launch their own initiatives targeting diversity. And while many of these efforts are appreciated, people can also smell pandering from ten miles away. You cannot simply slap a rainbow on your logo and be done with it.

And we’ve covered this before. There are steps that you can take before, during, and long after Pride to make your business truly inclusive and welcoming to LGBTQ+ employees and customers.

But while we’re here, why don’t we take a look at what NOT to do during Pride month.


Speak the language, understand the context

As in any culture, there is a coded language that is specific to the queer community. Sure, you can throw in a “YAS, KWEEN!” or “SASHAY AWAY” into a social post, but this is not what we really want from brands.

You don’t need to watch and repeat RuPaul’s Drag Race. But if you’re going to use the catchphrases, you should know where they came from and pay homage to the originators of that language - gay and transgender people of colour.


Have a shady past? People don’t forget

Oh, buddy. You thought the world would forget about some very public company statements that demonstrated discrimination towards trans people? Not today, Satan. Unless the public sees huge strides in changing company culture, posts like these won’t fool anyone.


Again, context is important

I just have no words. Dr. Pepper, sis… what are you trying to do here?


Representation for all

If you’re going to shoot a whole campaign for Pride, it should be inclusive of all LGBTQ+. That means showing different types of relationships and of course, people of colour. What you shouldn’t do is use a heterosexual white couple to sell your Pride-themed products.

Also… this a men’s underwear brand. HELLO? You could have done so much better!

The bottom (no pun intended) line is, your audience will be able to tell when you’re not being authentic. If you want to reach a specific community, look within your own organization first. Ask what you can do better. Amplify the voices of the LGBTQ+ community before your own.

And for God’s sake, don’t just change your logo on Twitter for a month and be done with it.