As Pride month draws to a close and the rainbow logos are gradually washed from social media, the meaning behind Pride really starts to hit home.

After all, Pride isn’t just a time for rainbows and sunshine – it’s a time for celebrating individuality, a time for never settling and a time for remembering those who never had the privilege of basic equality and rights. Pride to me is a time to stand together in solidarity, regardless of our differences, in defiance of those who would seek to divide us.

Since that first brick was thrown at the Stonewall Riots in 1969, the world has changed drastically. People in the LGBTQ+ community can now marry who they choose, can now be safe in knowing their employer cannot discriminate against them based on their identity and can freely be themselves without persecution – however this isn’t the whole story. Many people around the world still fear for their lives on a daily basis, can’t marry the ones they love and face ridicule at every turn.

With such great stakes at play, you may ask yourself “What should companies do?” – showing solidarity with a rainbow logo may be something, but frankly it isn’t enough. Backing this visible display of solidarity needs to be demonstrated with action, with inclusion and with empathy…

Inclusive marketing

When I was growing up, I felt being LGBTQ+ made me invisible. Adverts never represented a gay man, a lesbian or a trans person in the correct way. Therefore, Pride month should be a chance for brands to really embrace individuality and accurately represent their entire audience within campaigns.

I’m sure you’ve heard of “rainbow washing” (overlaying the Pride flag colours on a logo in short), but the real power in supporting the pride movement comes from action; supporting local LGBTQ+ charities, being vocal on support of pro-gay legislation and avoiding a damaging stance.

Get the flag right
If a brand is going to rainbow wash, at least use the right flag: trans people exist.

Great examples:

The “We Are Family” campaign was really poignant – it showed real families, not actors, from all walks of life. One of which was two gay dads. This was a subtle way to show that LGBTQ+ families are not taboo, they are part of everyday life.

“During Pride only one rainbow matters, so we’ve given up ours to show support”

I’ve always loved that statement – during pride month, Skittles remove their well known rainbow colours and swapped them for plain white. Not only that, but proceeds of sales were also donated to LGBTQ+ charities.

This really resonates, not only due to the visual impact this makes, but also for the solidarity and empathy the gestures show. It’s a considerate way of showing that the rainbow flag has a meaning far beyond a company’s product.

An emotional but educational campaign from Indeed that portrayed a non-binary job applicant searching for their next role. Indeed managed to sensitively address the struggle that many LGBTQ+ people feel in the workplace, and the worry about acceptance.

The ad named “A New Beginning” ends with the interviewer asking “are you comfortable in sharing how you would like to be addressed?”. The character “Taylor” replies: “Thank you for asking. I use They/Them pronouns” with a smile.

Ultimately, there are countless ways to be inclusive in your marketing practice and make a real difference – both to yourself and the lives of many LGBTQ+ people around the world. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach, but there are certainly some fantastic examples to take inspiration from.

As pride month draws to a close, I’d encourage you to keep the principles of Pride month alive throughout the rest of the year – inclusion, celebration and solidarity. Who knows, it could make a difference to someone that desperately needs it.

Conor Earley
Account Manager