LGBTQ+-Owned Businesses Need Our Support This Pride Month — Not Big Box Stores

It's Pride month! Now that we're in the happiest month of the year, we're going to be seeing a lot of companies offering Pride merchandise, food, and other products.

So, who should you buy from, and what does it mean to buy something designed for Pride? There's a lot of questions surrounding the whole "Pride merch" issue, so let's unpack them and find ways to support the LGBTQIA+ community in the best way possible!

Big companies getting in on pride is what we call "rainbow capitalism."

Rainbow capitalism is what you see when businesses turn their logos into rainbow flags and start offering special limited edition "Pride" products.

Don't get me wrong: seeing such amazing acceptance from big companies is wonderful, and communicates to the LGBTQIA+ community that a company is a safe place for them to shop at or visit.

However, for many of us in the community, all of that starts to feel like exploitation after a while.

It's hard to ignore that Pride has become a marketing tactic.

The acceptance of the community is a double-edged sword. It's so fun to walk into a store and see rainbows everywhere, but it's hard to ignore that the blatant pandering to us is a business opportunity.

My feelings on this are really complicated. I'm grateful, but I'm also wary.

It comes down to this: what does a company do outside of their Pride collections to support the community? Who do they donate to, what politics to they support? What do they stand for when they don't want our money?

Look at Pride month as a great excuse to start supporting small businesses.

Queer-owned small businesses are on the rise, and many offer some amazing things for you to show your pride. Buying directly from an actual queer person not only supports them, it allows them to put their money back into their own community.

A simple Etsy search for "queer-owned business" will net you a ton of gorgeous, unique products to choose from. Check out this makeup palette by Mintty Makeup! It's called "Empowermintt." That's adorable.

A lot of queer small businesses give back, too.

Not only would your money go to an actual queer person, but many LGBTQIA+-owned companies donate portions of their proceeds to charities.

Take this love is love candle from Lost + Found Candle Co. — 20% of the sales of their Pride candle goes to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, an organization dedicated to protecting Black trans lives.

It's gestures like giving back that separate the small, queer-owned businesses from companies just looking to make a quick buck. This Pride, shop small, and shop queer!