Headlines Pride Month & rainbow capitalism


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“This Pride Month, I’m embracing ‘rainbow capitalism’” — via The Washington Post
My young friend says she has no use for Pride gatherings today. “It’s overrun with straight people with their kids, and it’s basically just a joke,” she told me.
I understand what she’s saying. But my younger friend was fortunate enough to come out and immediately find community. After some difficulty, her parents have grown to accept their daughter and her partner. While fantastic for her, this is also the weakness of her argument. She doesn’t know what she doesn’t know.

Besides, does she not see the wave of anti-LGBTQ sentiment and lawmaking washing over the country? Right now, we should be welcoming the support of however many straight people and companies want to give it — and however they want to give it. I understand that there are some in the queer community who believe the rainbow-ification of the movement has declawed it. But it’s not a zero-sum game. For every rainbow keychain, someone is out there fighting the good fight.

In my youth, I could not have imagined a store selling merchandise celebrating what I had been led to believe was the biggest shame of my life. I wonder how a 13-year-old me would have reacted had I seen how positively normal it is to be gay — so normal that a department store is selling T-shirts about it. I wonder if those of us who marched in that parade would have held our heads up higher simply in the knowledge that we were not, as the hecklers said, sick and depraved.

I know queer people who are more “woke” will disagree. But if you never see yourself represented, you are most likely to believe what others say about you. Representation matters even if it comes in the form of a rainbow shirt on a dog. Somewhere that dog shirt is helping someone.

So, although I won’t buy rainbow merchandise, I’m glad it’s there assaulting my eyes in Target. Yes, it’s capitalism at work, and it’s soulless. But it’s there. I remember what it was like to feel totally alone. Some other kid might see it and realize they aren’t alone. And realize they are among others, many others. And that, somewhere, they can find acceptance.
This is a purely opinion-based piece from columnist Brian Broome. It’s important in conversations like this to understand how the authorial voice identifies (Broome is Black and identifies within the article as a gay man) because the intersection of identity informs experience and personal stake in a topic.

A Black gay man has a particular perspective in this; a subjugated queer voice of color is nuanced inofitself. Add to this the fact that Broome has more privileges than someone of trans/female experience since he more than likely passes as male/masculine, and the conversation‘s dynamics shift dramatically.

To suggest that “For every rainbow keychain, someone is out there fighting the good fight” is anything other than an exaggerated metric to appeal to the readers’ pathos would be misguided. The number of organizations that contribute to the proliferation of Pride-related merchandising might be outnumbered by the number of people purchasing said merchandise, but visibility does not always equate to success. Representation on television or on Pride floats does not always mean that said representation is doing groundbreaking work to communicate safe messaging to queer communities, dismantle anti-transgender legislation, and so on.

Thoughts on rainbow capitalism, especially after the last couple of years of meditation on/development of the subject?


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More representation = normalization. I agree with the author on that front. What kind of representation matters, but only insofar as to be not negative, stereotypical, or monotypical; continual exposure normalizes the presence of otherisms like the lgbt community.

I too find attending pride unneccesary, not really because it's been capitalized, babified, and coddled down to an "acceptable" level by non-LGBT people, but because to me it's strayed into just party/celebration territory, and not to its roots as a protest to enact some sort of change. It feels more file and rank to any other kind of "fest" with just a rainbow flavor.

Overall tho I agree with the author that it's better to see the representation than to not. Capitalism is evil, and it feeding on and draining the fight out of the lgbt movement is bad, but normalizing it is also good, especially having grown up in an extremely homophobic and conservative environment. Going back you can feel the effects the normalization process has had on the community as a whole; it's lessened the visceral hate to a more modest dislike/ "you may live as you choose but I don't like it." (Albeit with a bit of a reversal stemming from the trump/qa voices being added the past couple of years)
The issue is that "rainbow capitalism" isn't a particularly meaningful advancement in representation when it does not accompany capital's backing of legal and political protection. Even before approaching the question of capitalism, we should be asking "how does this deployment of capital benefit us as a community?" Often what we see is a lack of real protection of our rights, and rainbow-washing firms are willing to fund the campaigns of those seeking to eliminate those rights, and eventually us. I'm not American, but if I were I cannot imagine I would be comforted by the fact that some retail company now think our existence is ok enough to appeal to a market demographic while they still fund politicians who don't want me to exist and have made it their goal to strip me of my legal rights.

As for the value of Pride, I'm going to say this: I was hospitalised a couple years ago after being beaten by violent homophobes (many being neo-Nazis) during Pride. Right now, there are similar ongoing campaigns to attack Pride parades, including one recently foiled by American local and federal law enforcement. At the very least, the people who want us dead see Pride parades as symbols to attack, and that by extension means other community members and their attending families. Is it not worth attending if not for the defence of the community?
I think the big companies ain’t gonnna do anything to actually improve living situations for LGBTQ+ people on a large scale in exposed communities. And I believe that simply more products and exposure to the public will further normalize LGBTQ+ people. So while the companies could do more it’s still a good thing.


Take care of yourself.
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this guy is soyfacing over wholesome 100 rainbow baby yoda gay marriage legalized by obama prism i mean this is getting embarrassing. if you don’t posit queerness as directly in opposition to capitalism you end up with an incomplete model featuring reactionaries as harry potter slytherin guys who are evil because they are evil. these ideologies exist for a reason: if they are not created by capitalism, they’re certainly sustained by it. when you ignore that, it’s only a matter of time before you get tired of posting about human rights and align yourself with one of the several cozy moderate niches out there. you’re also permitted to spec into the terf subclass if you’re looking for some good entertainment. they pit reactionaries against people they tell themselves are reactionary to make themselves feel better! how fun is that?

all the trans people i know are lacking in agency in some way or another: lacking money, being isolated, being closeted, not passing (2/4 for me lol). they constantly find themselves at the whims of a tremendously powerful and largely inattentive majority. it was like this for gay people too before! you’d think this guy would be a lot more happy about the presence of actual gay revolutionaries, writers, etc than the rainbow table scraps from capitalism (which at any rate are typically more focused on a feel-good “acceptance” of gay people than the actual lives of said people). instead here he is watching as the exact same structure of prejudice (here i think of ‘recycled bigotry’—appeal to religion, pseudoscience, ‘think of the children’, etc) unfolds itself for the billionth time and all he can do, all he can ever hope to do, is get mad on the internet. “No Way To Prevent This”, Says Only Species In Which This Regularly Happens

i am not a sad person. the idea of queer liberation as primarily a negation—rejecting settling for a couple rights, rejecting forgiving the state for its atrocities (hello aids crisis), rejecting having your existence contingent on people who don’t care, rejecting the inevitability of conservatism, rejecting assimilation—is something i’m quite optimistic about for the future. with the current prevalence of social media, people are actually internalizing the fact that getting mad on the internet isn’t enough. in the face of the hideous legislation we’re seeing this year, i’ve seen many calls to organize irl and start actually doing things. we don’t need capitalism, we need each other.

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