This guest blog comes from Digital Marketing Executive, Joss. Her role involves Content Marketing and SEO.
Celebrating love across the world is important. This June marks 50 years to the month since the Stonewall Riots in New York, the start of Pride as we know it today. More and more companies and brands support Pride and this year is no different.
To mark the 50th anniversary, several companies have been running their own marketing campaigns to show support for the LGBTQ community. The LGBT+ community is a part of my life and many others, which is why it is important to celebrate what makes our world great.
The Stonewall Riots, June 1969
In the early hours of June 28 1969 the NYPD (New York Police Department) raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City. After years of homophobic legislation and brutality, it was time for change. This raid had not been the first one and was nothing new, but something was different.
People refused to co-operate and hand over IDs to prove their gender. As a crowd started to gather outside, pressure fell on the police and violence erupted. One transvestite was pushed and hit in the face with a purse. Storme DeLarverie spoke to the crowds about the tight handcuffs and was beaten with a nightstick by police offices in retaliation.
A number of bystanders including activists Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P Johnson, started to throw bottles, cans, bins, bricks and more at police. Rioting continued for several nights afterwards and the iconic evenings led to the creation of the Gay Liberation Front as well as Gay Activists Alliance. In 1970 the very first Pride Parade took place, marking a huge shift in attitude towards LGBTQ rights.
Despite the Stonewall Riots, it has still taken decades for more rights to come into force. It wasn’t until 1999 that Bill Clinton declared June officially as ‘Gay and Lesbian Pride Month’. In 2009, Barack Obama extended the title to include all members of the community including bisexuals and transgender. Parades take places across the globe and this year more people than ever have been celebrating the event.
Today, the LGBTQ community have more of a voice in culture, government as well as the media. One of the best examples of the impact of Pride and the media is RuPaul’s Drag Race. Since airing 10 years ago, the programme has had 11 seasons, 4 seasons of an additional All Stars competition (with a 5th in filming), world tours, and supported Pride events around the world. The show has helped to grow equality and develop awareness, showing everybody just how important pride is.
Companies and Pride
Businesses in the UK have been doing their own marketing to celebrate 50 years of Pride. From Facebook adding a profile picture filter to Boohoo releasing their own Pride collection, there have been endless organisations getting involved.
Absolut Vodka are one of the longest supporters of Pride, having backed the LGBTQ community for over 35 years. Their ‘Kiss With Pride’ campaign aims to raise awareness that being gay is still illegal in 72 countries. Boohoo’s #LoveWithoutLimits collection is donating 10% of all sales to OutRight Action International and the LGBT Foundation.
Even popular food company M&S are marking 50 years of Pride. The LGBT sandwich is a twist on the classic BLT, with the G standing for the added guacamole. As well as raising visibility, M&S are donating £10,000 to the Albert Kennedy Trust (akt), the national LGBTQ+ Youth Homelessness charity organisation, as well as €1000 to the BeLonG Youth Services in Ireland.
Is It Right?
However, some people are questioning whether it is right for a business to use Pride in their marketing. M&S have faced some backlash with people criticising them.
Genuinely find the @marksandspencer LGBT sandwich offensive.
— Paul Kelly (@Paulkelly87) May 2, 2019
— you clods! (@robynetzan) May 2, 2019
However, the akt’s Director Carrie Reiners has spoken out about the LGBT sandwich, saying:
“We’re thrilled to see M&S show visible support for the LGBTQ+ community this Pride, and are extremely grateful to be one of its two chosen charities. The donation from M&S will enable us to continue providing safe homes and better futures for the young LGBTQ+ people we work with, through our Purple Door safe house, host programme, mentoring and youth engagement work.”
Future of Marketing and Pride
Whilst Pride marketing campaigns may not be liked by all, they are still making a difference. As well as raising money, companies are raising awareness of the importance of love and equality. Big brands including Tesco and Amazon are supporting Pride events across the UK, bringing sponsorships as well as coverage with them.
Although, there is still room to grow. It is important for companies to not just support the LGBT+ community during June, but all year round. There are some that already do this and the Stonewall List of Top 100 Employers highlights organisations who are supporting equality every day. Taking part in Pride month is a huge step, however being an ally is the next and most crucial step.