What can we do about Pinkwashing this Pride Month?

From fast fashion to cheap beer, companies everywhere are feeling the tug of (culture) war surrounding Pride Month this year. Loud and hateful minorities are silencing LGBTQ+ voices in our stores, libraries, and community spaces. It’s an important time to stand up for human rights, and there are plenty of opportunities to do so in the coming weeks.

If you’ve checked your promotions tab since the beginning of June, you’ll find every brand you’ve ever engaged with is ready to be your new gay BFF. There are press releases and subject lines like “Pride + Savings = A Match Made in Rainbow Heaven!” and “Don’t hide your Pride! Shop our limited edition collection now.” And So. Many. Rainbows. From belt bags to bathing suits, there’s no scarcity of colorful clothing that you can buy to celebrate Pride Month. If you’re familiar with Passion Lilie, you know that Pride is always important to us. Being a sustainable company means being inclusive all day, every day – not just during certain months of the year. 

Unfortunately, many fashion companies can’t say the same. Pride Month is a block on the annual marketing calendar during which they push colorful collections and tired cliches about love. On one hand, we appreciate any effort toward inclusion. Commercialism plays a key role in expanding the bounds of our national identity to include marginalized people, so we’re not here to snub companies that are genuinely trying to be more inclusive. However, we believe Pinkwashing, sometimes called Rainbow washing, is deeply problematic. We’re here to answer your questions about Pinkwashing and how to determine which brands to support this Pride Month. 

What is Pinkwashing?

As a brand focused on our environmental impact and sustainability, you’ve probably heard Passion Lilie talk about Greenwashing from time to time. We warn shoppers to be wary of organizations that do a good job of talking the talk about being eco-friendly, but whose business practices tell another story entirely. We always encourage you to dig deeper, ask questions about where and how your clothes are made, and who makes them. This Pride Month, we hope you’ll do the same as you encounter Pinkwashing at every turn.

According to Dictionary.com, Pinkwashing is a term used to describe companies who “use LGBTQ+ marketing as a sales opportunity without making meaningful contributions to the cause—or, in some cases, even working against it, such as by donating to politicians who support anti-LGBTQ+ policies.” Pinkwashing is not limited to companies – we often find examples of politicians and government organizations who spend more time using LGBTQ+ topics to enhance their image than putting in the work to create change. 

One month of rainbows does not an ally make, and Pride capitalism falls far short of the authentic values and civil rights conversations advocates hope to achieve. We – the consumers – are asking more of the brands we support, and we’re seeking tangible action, not just brand positioning. We support brands that share our beliefs, uplift LGBTQ+ and anti-racist voices, and demand fair pay and healthy work environments.

What power do we have?

We vote with our dollars. Every purchase we make – a fast food sandwich, a dress from a giant retail store, or a handmade item from a small business – is a political choice. Figure out what values are most important to you and which ones you feel ok compromising. Before you support any brand, seek out their core values and discover how they deliver upon them. If Pride Month seems to be filled with empty gestures, move on and find a brand that’s giving back to LGBTQ+ organizations, creating inclusive teams, paying and promoting fairly within the company. Truly inclusive brands committed to activism will have evidence of their work toward equity. 

What are some good brands to support during Pride Month?

We made a list of some brands we love, and we hope you’ll choose to support them (and businesses like them) year-round. 

Bourbon Pride

The cutest couple, Josh and Joseph Duffy, own one of the most vibrant and friendly shops in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Add Bourbon Pride to your list of must-dos when you’re in the area. You’ll find belt bags, magnets, t-shirts and more Pride gear than you’ve ever dreamed of. This power couple is always raising money for one cause or another. They truly care about their community. There are hundreds of five star reviews on their page, but one that sums it up best is “Amazing shop! Awesome atmosphere and excellent customer service! Gay, straight, and everything in between, there's something for everyone here!

A French Quarter storefront with colorful flags

Tchoup Industries

A fellow New Orleans based small business, Tchoup Industries is an LGBTQ+ owned company with a mission to build bags that support our Southern Louisiana community, that have a reduced impact on our natural environment, and that instill a spirit of exploration. If you’re in the market for a new travel bag, check out their line of back packs and shoulder bags. We love the Flap Packs for all of our day tripping adventures. 

Person wearing black back pack outdoors

Ladyfingers Letterpress

You can find a beautiful, eco-friendly card for any occasion under the sun at Ladyfingers Letterpress.  Award-winning Ladyfingers Letterpress is a Queer and Trans-owned-and-operated stationery and gift brand founded by designer + printmaker couple, Arley Torsone and Morgan Calderini. In recent years, the company has used their platform to promote women's, LGBTQ+, BIPOC and immigrant rights, using their "power of the press" to produce work that helps mobilize social movements.

Couple poses in front of beautiful cards

(Photo credit: Lauren Memarian

NOTO Botanics

Skincare for all? Yes, please! NOTO was created by Gloria Noto, a professional makeup artist and member of the LGBTQIA+ community. She saw a need for inclusive, minimalist skincare and created this all-natural line of essentials with every body in mind. NOTO strives to create impact through action by donating a portion of proceeds from their Agender Oil product to organizations such as: Planned Parenthood, The Okra Project, The Transgender Freedom Fund, Black Mama’s Matter, The Love Land Foundation, The Trevor Project, and many more.

“As a business owner, queer person, and a first generation child of immigrants, it’s important for me to connect with my community through my work. Agender Oil is a conduit to pursuing that connection in an authentic and creative way based on our means as a small business. However, I also encourage you to directly put dollars into the pockets of the organizations you wish to support first.” - Gloria Noto

Selection of beauty products

Couplet Coffee

Gefen is a first-generation immigrant, proud queer woman, and coffee lover who founded Couplet Coffee in order to bring the love and joy of great-tasting, specialty coffee to the masses. They built a diverse team of baristas, poets, artists and community builders who make delicious, unpretentious coffee available for everyone. Get fired up for Pride Month celebrations with a bag of single origin Peaceful Peru coffee beans. These Peruvian beans are from San Ignacio (Estrella Divina), a co-op in a lovely part of Peru. They’re Couplet’s customer favorite - light/medium roasted, peachy and caramely -- yum! 

Gefen poses before an assortment of coffee

If you have any favorite LGBTQ+ businesses we should support, let us know! Happy Pride Month!

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