You need to think twice before re-using the rainbow

Written by Jonny Evans

26 Jun 2019

Everyone is using the pride symbol that marks a celebration for the fight for acceptance for corporate gains -- is this supporting or is this exploiting Pride?

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, so this year’s Pride gives more reasons than others to celebrate how far the LGBTQ+ community has come since 1969.

And this celebratory mood seems to have spread to much of British society, with numerous small businesses, multinational corporations and government departments using the rainbow flag in its marketing throughout June. But what does this adoption actually mean?

Is it a genuine show of support and sign of respect to those who have fought and spilled blood to achieve the rights of the LGBTQ+ community have in Britain today? Or is it a hollow attempt to seem ‘cool’, ‘progressive’ and ‘modern’, scoring cheap PR points from the media for a few weeks before resuming regular service?

Unfortunately, I feel the latter is most common, with many seeing only financial and reputational gain in a flag that is actually a visual representation of the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community and the hardships they have faced.

Take the Home Office for example – included in their Pride Support is the imaginative and not-at-all overdone placing of the rainbow flag in the backdrop of their logo on social media.

On the face of it this seems like a nice touch and a sign that, despite their hostile environment policy and dubious immigration filing systems, the Home Office is capable of showing support for a disenfranchised community. However, when you dig a little deeper it seems that shockingly (or not shockingly) this show of support might be just that – a show.

Kenneth Macharia

This is Kenneth Macharia. He is 39, gay and originally from Kenya – a country where holding hands or kissing someone from the same gender carries a prison sentence of between 4 – 14 years. He first came to the UK a decade ago on a student visa but claimed asylum in 2016 and has since been locked in a battle with the Home Office to stay in Britain. This battle came to an end on June 3rd (Home Office logo was probably lit up with the rainbow flag) when the Home Office informed Mr Macharia that he should make arrangements to leave the UK and that Kenya was a safe place for him as a gay man. You can sign a petition against his deportation here. To sum up, the Home Office support of Pride = hollow bullshit.

This is just one of a number of examples of the rainbow flag being adopted for purely corporate purposes. Is this really what is needed in a political climate that is turning notably anti-LGBTQ+? We have a US President legitimising the discrimination of LGBTQ+ people in the workplace, a toxic and rotten Brexit Party MEP saying it is possible to use science to cure homosexuality and a former PM candidate supporting the parents’ protest against LGBTQ+ lessons in Birmingham. These are undeniably uncertain and scary times for the LGBTQ+ community, and businesses, corporations and governments need to think beyond reputational gain and really consider how they can use the influence of their marketing to help this under threat community.

Edited by Tony Nguyen |


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