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Why corporations are increasingly waving the Pride flag

From Ikea to Burger King, a growing number of companies are rolling out rainbow-themed products to celebrate Pride Month. But some critics in the LGBTQ community are skeptical of this growing corporate enthusiasm with some boycotting New York City’s Pride parade over their concerns. Kenyon Farrow, a senior editor for the HIV-related news site, The Body, joins Ivette Feliciano to discuss.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    In New York City today, the world's largest LGBTQ Pride March filled the streets for hours. Organizers said more than 1000,000 marched with hundreds of thousands more lining the streets to watch the parade past the Stonewall Inn marking the 50 year anniversary of the police raid there that started the modern day gay rights movement. But for many, the day was also about maintaining the integrity of the movement and preserving its grassroots origins. NewsHour Weekend Correspondent Ivette Feliciano sat down earlier with Kenyon Farrow, senior editor of thebody.com to discuss what some LGBTQ critics say has become the corporatization of Pride.

  • Ivette Feliciano:

    So today is the Pride Parade here in New York City and all month there have been LGBTQ celebrations across the U.S.. When did we start seeing this shift in attention that companies are giving to Pride events?

  • Kenyon Farrow:

    I mean I think we start to really see a shift in kind of corporate interest probably in the early 90s and there's been a lot of debate over the last you know roughly 20 years or 30 years actually. Just what is it that we're losing in the process of you know the parade becoming you know a predominant amount of you know sort of floats that are about you know companies and corporations as opposed to community groups or political protests etc.?

  • Ivette Feliciano:

    Which there are lots of people in the LGBTQ community who aren't going to mainstream Pride events. Who are groups like the Reclaim Pride Coalition and other people who are boycotting these events.?

  • Kenyon Farrow:

    Sure. So this year you have an interesting dynamic. How you have I think, partly as a result of the fiftieth anniversary of Stonewall, collection of organizations and queer activists in New York City who said we don't actually want to participate in the more corporate Pride Parade as it currently exists.

    So they decided to have a commemorative march called the Queer Liberation March that would march the original route of the first gay pride parade in New York City. The goal is really to kind of rededicate ourselves to kind of LGBT life as a political movement as opposed to a kind of depoliticized just sort of you know party moment and a moment to just you know allow for kind of corporations to market to us (UNTEL)

  • Ivette Feliciano:

    Isn't it a sign of progress and acceptance of LGBTQ culture if these companies are giving them the same attention as they do other demographics?

  • Kenyon Farrow:

    Just because a corporation slaps the rainbow flag on their website or creates ads or puts a float in the parade they may also be involved in a range of other kind of activities. One being clear you know what are they are sort of you know hiring policies or how sort of queer or transgender friendly are their corporations in terms of just like the workplace environment.

    In addition to as you know LGBT people, we're not just concerned with gay friendly, right? Some of us are also concerned with minimum wage and wage conditions. A lot of LGBT people are poor. What we've seen in terms of the kind of marketing to an LGBT constituency shows a certain progress in the sense that it demonstrates that we are seen as a group to be marketed to but it doesn't necessarily mean a political commitment to the lives of actual LGBT people in this country, especially those folks of color and people who are more vulnerable.

  • Ivette Feliciano:

    We've seen companies like Pepsi and Nike sort of attaching themselves to other social justice movements. Is this part of a larger pattern?

  • Kenyon Farrow:

    I absolutely think this is part of a larger pattern. I think that what we're seeing, they just have gotten a lot smarter about it because of I think the ability to sort of capture data and really kind of micro target messages and also obfuscate you know some of the other sort of political concerns that people may have with some of those corporations. Many of us like to think more kind of comprehensively about you know what does it mean to be supportive of LGBT lives that goes beyond just saying you're LGBT friendly and kind of figuring out a way to get a product in front of me?

  • Ivette Feliciano:

    Kenyon Farrow thanks so much.

  • Kenyon Farrow:

    Thank you so much for having me.

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