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  • Writer's pictureThe Lavender Space

Rainbow Capitalism 101

With the onset of Pride Month each year, the market and the media become saturated with rainbow merchandise, colourful logos, and intense backlash. Companies are more than ready to support the LGBTQIA+ community, but what does their support really mean?

Rainbow capitalism, or ‘pink-washing’ is when companies convert hard-earned LGBTQIA+ acceptance, and use it to feed into capitalism and consumerism. Capitalism is the structure that, in a nutshell, allows people to control all goods for profit, meaning the primary incentive is to make money. Unfortunately, today, especially in Western countries, queer acceptance is something companies can exploit. Conglomerates claim to support queer people because they know they will buy their merchandise solely to show the same support. Most of these companies don’t support the cause and use the queer community as pawns in their game of ‘Who can make more money.’

How do we know this? Well, most of these companies donate thousands and millions of dollars to politicians and bills that actively harm the LGBTQIA+ community. For example, Walmart puts out Pride merchandise annually, yet donated over 10 million dollars to anti-trans legislation. Furthermore, as conservative backlash increased in the USA, and a bigoted boycott followed, Target withdrew its famous Pride line, because they weren’t making the money it should’ve been. While there may still be companies that genuinely support queer people, the majority of hyper-capitalistic conglomerates engage in Pride Month festivities for profit.

In India, pink-washing is rare, simply because the LGBTQIA+ community does not have much ground and companies do not stand to make as much money. However, as the cause gains traction, we can see companies like Amul and Starbucks practising rainbow capitalism in India. This, unfortunately, only further polarises and trivialises the discourse about queer people, while also making it harder for them to accrue benefits.

In conclusion, as the queer community battles against homophobia, transphobia, and anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation, we are reminded of the scarcity of authentic support amid fading rainbows and revealing corporate colours.

-Kaavya Saha , Vasant Valley School

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