Stop Searching for the Pot of Gold. Start Celebrating the Rainbows.
Last month The Abbi Agency once again had the honor of attending and sponsoring Northern Nevada Pride 2022! It’s a long-held tradition of TAA to support this event, and it’s such a delight to watch as the crowd gets bigger and the cheers louder, that unadulterated feeling of pure delight and acceptance growing more powerful with each passing celebration.
As a sponsor, TAA also had the privilege of being in the parade! We spent the morning setting up our float, and armed with: a slightly unstable trailer, a couch that someone had hoisted from inside the office, the quietest portable speaker you’ve ever heard, two boxes of rainbow leis, a cooler full of White Claws (breakfast of gay champions) and a dream, we were off.
It’s one thing to watch the parade from the crowd, and another entirely to climb up on a float and stare in awe at the sea of people who have come to celebrate who they are, decked out head-to-toe in rainbow gear that they may be scared to wear any other day of the year. Every pride celebration, we see more and more people proud to be who they are, and open about what makes them different. We see more kids in the crowd, on the shoulders of parents and guardians who taught them that being who they are is something to be celebrated, and not shamed. More same-sex couples taking a private moment to hold hands or steal a kiss in a place where they won’t be harassed or assaulted. More trans people being openly proud of who they are and the journey it took to get there.
You could say pride has a very special place at The Abbi Agency. From the very beginning (14 years this month!), we’ve placed authenticity and pride at the center of who we are, unrelenting in our mission to foster an inclusive environment while promoting these values in our work. So, even though Pride Month is over, even though our float is dismantled and our logo back to that famous shade of Abbi red, we can promise you one thing: rainbow runs through our blood 365 days a year.
Can Businesses Be a Friend of Dorothy?
Ok, now it’s time to address the elephant in the room. “Corporate ally” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, especially for members of the LGBTQ+ community who may have developed a hearty distrust of larger institutions and entities. “Rainbow washing” has also become increasingly common, a phrase that describes how businesses tout pro-LGBTQ+ talking points during the month of June, change their logos to rainbow colors, spotlight queer creators without giving them sufficient pay or credit, or churn out a collection of pride-themed merch to capture the ever-growing purchasing power of the LGBTQ+ community. When July 1st rolls around, everything goes back to business as usual. And make no mistake— the queer community can sniff out performative activism with ease. Corporations using the gay pride movement solely to increase profit margins and capture target demographics have no place in pride celebrations, at least not until they bring genuine care and integrity to the table.
This all may sound a little frightening, but don’t put that rainbow flag back in your closet quite yet! Supporting pride and equality with the proper respect is entirely possible for businesses. And lucky you, we have a handy guide on just how to do it!
The Big Gay Guide to Marketing with Pride
- Keep Up the Support— 365 Days a Year
We touched briefly on “rainbow washing,” but how do you avoid this phenomenon? Don’t businesses have to go back to “normal” at some point? To that, we would say that pride should be an integrated part of your day-to-day operations. Queer people don’t stop being queer after the month of June is over— trust us, we asked! As such, your organization should strive to support the LGBTQ+ community all year, not just during a month where showing support is a quick way to earn a buck.
- Understand the Significance and History of Pride
One thing you must understand: pride is, first and foremost, a protest. Quick history lesson: the pride celebrations of the United States generally stem back to a single incident at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, in which the police raided the known gay bar and gathering place (unsurprisingly, with extreme prejudice). Patrons and onlookers grew angry with raiding officers and started pelting them with various objects, forcing the police to barricade themselves within the inn. The crowd, taking to the streets, chanted “Gay Power!” and continued to challenge the police presence. This single night sparked protests and inspired gay groups across the country, a growing movement of gay power and liberation that continues to this day.
Queer people are passionate about pride, for good reason. Learn and respect the legacy of this celebration-slash-protest, and why it continues to be important when LGBTQ+ rights are still being threatened in this country. Also remember, however, that it is not the responsibility of queer people to teach you how to be a good ally. These are people who already have to fight every single day to be who they are, and the onus of education should not fall onto their already-heavy plates. This is a good tip to remember when trying to engage with and support any oppressed or minority group, not just the LGBTQ+ community!
- Foster a Safe and Accepting Workplace Culture
Culture is big at The Abbi Agency— what can we say, we like to have fun! And having a strong sense of culture can mean a lot of things, to a lot of different people. For us at TAA, it means creating a space of safety and acceptance for everyone, no matter their sexual orientation, race, gender, religion, etc. It means embracing what makes us different, and not being afraid to step outside the box and see something from a different point of view. More than anything, it means making sure people are comfortable being 100% themselves, no matter what. So, talk to your employees, your teammates, your boss. Identify what you’re doing well, and find what you could be doing better. Make inclusivity, and especially safety, a cornerstone of your organization. Remember that queer identity is often intersectional, and other identities like race, culture, etc. can simultaneously impact a person’s experience in this world. Learn (and teach others) to listen to other people’s point of view, even when it differs from your own. Allyship can come in many forms, including the simple act of sitting down and learning to listen to people whose voices have gone unheard for so long.
- Put Your Money Where Your Mouth is
We all know the saying— money talks. It may sometimes speak in hushed whispers or vulgar shrieks, but it always talks. “Rainbow washing” is a prime example of companies who offer up a hollow shell of support, backed by nothing substantial that will actually help the LGBTQ+ community. How to avoid this? Put your money where your mouth is! Back up your support with tangible actions and initiatives, whether it’s providing more paid parental leave, reviewing internal policies for improvements to diversity/discrimination/health benefits/etc., or sponsoring organizations/events that put valuable time/effort/money into important causes, like pride!
Resources for the Well-Intentioned Ally
This local center dedicates their time to providing the LGBTQ+ community with resources, connections and community. They also offer education in and outside the community, and as well as other programs for different people and their individual needs, including youth programs, trans/gender programs, senior programs, community programs, and many more. One of their main resources is their CAN program, which provides a hotline for anyone in the Las Vegas area.
This organization, local to Nevada, focuses specifically on LGBTQ+ youth. They work to ensure that laws are continually being passed to help protect this community and their rights. In addition, Equality Nevada provides leadership training, volunteer and sponsorship opportunities.
Gender Justice Nevada is a local resource located in Las Vegas, providing mainly education and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community. With the goal of inclusion and a strong sense of community, they provide ally trainings that provide a safe environment for members of the community to ask questions and bring up certain topics without judgment.
The GLAAD organization is heavily prominent in the world of entertainment, news and media, where they use their power to share stories about the LGBTQ+ community. GLAAD has various user-specific programs that offer a portal to queer education and awareness, including LGBTQ in entertainment, transgender media, Spanish-language media, LGBTQ southern stories, and many more.
Specifically for community activists, the National LGBTQ Task Force provides information, training, partnerships and more for those trying to protect and improve the lives of people in the LGBTQ+ community.
PFLAG provides support and education for peers, family members and allies of those in the LGBTQ+ community. With over 400 chapters and locations in all 50 states, this organization has a legacy of improving equality on all levels.