Rainbow capitalism: how companies make money on LGBTQ +

Every year in June, every major retailer you walk into almost hits you in the face with a rainbow. all when you enter the front door. I admit that, like most people, I have been easily influenced by the Target’s Pride section in the past. This means that I, like most, contribute to rainbow capitalism.

To help you (and me) avoid falling prey to the season’s fake-support ads, let’s talk about what rainbow capitalism is and some easy ways to recognize it.

Source: Giphy.com

What is rainbow capitalism?

With Pride month approaching, I’m sure you’ve only heard the term “rainbow capitalism” a few times on TikTok. The term, also often referred to as “pink capitalism”, refers to the adoption and creation of LGBTQ+ positions and merchandise by companies that are not otherwise actively supporting the community.

The intention here is to make a profit (usually during the month of pride), not to fight for equality.

GIF of SpongeBob SquarePants drawing a rainbow over his head.

Source: Giphy.com

Rainbow capitalism seems to be performative rather than authentic. Companies have rainbow dollar signs in their eyes and suddenly forget the harm they’ve done to the LGBTQ+ community in the past.

Why is rainbow capitalism bad?

So why not just be glad that companies are trying to show their support? Well, rainbow capitalism is bad because it takes money that could directly benefit the LGBTQ+ community and puts it in the pockets of big corporations.

For example, during Pride month, many people buy from big retailers like Target and Walmart. However, there are many other gay-owned small businesses that are also trying to sell their Pride merchandise.

Even worse, some of these large corporations profit from supporting the LGBTQ+ community, but have policies that negatively impact their LGBTQ+ employees, or donate money to anti-LGBTQ+ organizations and charities.

How to recognize rainbow capitalism

It can be difficult for the average consumer to distinguish between companies that are really trying to do good and those that are just trying to make money. Here are some sure signs that a company just wants your money:

  • Rainbow logos “While adding a rainbow to your Pride logo seems like a great gesture of support, it is not a substitute for activism and does not mean that the company automatically supports the LGBTQ+ community. (Editor’s Note: Here at Money Under 30, we’ve turned our own logo into a rainbow for Pride Month; however, we’re also actively working to expand our editorial coverage to reflect the specific needs of the LGBTQ+ community.)
  • Sponsorship “Sometimes companies sponsor entire prides or parades, but they do it for profit, not for LGBTQ+ support. Budweiser creator Anheuser-Busch, for example, has been sponsoring prides in Chicago and Boston for years. But the company has a history of supporting legislators who support anti-LGBTQ+ policies.
  • Slightly (or completely) unpleasant foods “It’s clear that many companies that make everything from t-shirts to bags to socks and more have never actually spoken to members of the LGBTQ+ community. Many of their slogans end up as a mockery of a marginalized community.

Companies Notorious for Rainbow Capitalism

Unfortunately, many large corporate companies are guilty of rainbow capitalism. Even companies now trying to change their tune have a history of discrimination, whether in hiring or pay. Here are three specific examples:

  • Tesla Tesla tops the list. Their recent tweet telling everyone that they are “100/100 for the seventh year in a row for LGBTQ equality” as a company is simply an inaccurate description of the history of the company. On several occasions, founder Elon Musk has made fun of gender pronouns and transgender rights on Twitter.
  • walmart “This year, Walmart not only released some of Pride’s most embarrassing products (shirts with the words “I CAN BE STRAIGHT, BUT I DON’T HATE” and “HOMOSEXUAL ALIEN”), but it also has a long history of discrimination as a case. First, they donate millions annually to Republican legislators who constantly support anti-gay and transgender bills that restrict the rights of these groups.
  • Home Depot Home Depot is another company that, despite posting Pride on social media every month and stating in good faith that it cares about its LGBTQ+ employees, has offered its support to the politicians who blocked the Equality Act. In addition, one of the co-founders has long been a donor to the Republican Party and non-LGBTQ+ politicians.

Companies that support all year round

Fortunately, more and more companies are supporting the LGBTQ+ community in ways that are respectful and truly helpful. Here are some examples of companies doing it right:

  • Google – Google is a fair company in relation to all its employees, including LGBTQ+. Their Pride page clearly states what they donated to LGBTQ+ people last year. It is clear that they support the community throughout the year and have added features to their products that can help the LGBTQ+ community thrive.
  • intuit “Intuit also treats its LGBTQ+ employees well. They are known to offer all-encompassing benefits and they also have the Pride Network, which is a resource group for employees. Intuit offers these chapters nationwide with over 300 members.
  • Nike – Nike is committed to assisting non-profit organizations in their work with communities such as the LGBTQ+ community. This year they recognized 18 organizations that help promote LGBTQ+ ideas. They offered these businesses a total of $625,000.

How to Avoid Rainbow Capitalism

Avoiding rainbow capitalism is the only way to end it. There are a few simple steps that every ally or community member can take to support the LGBTQ+ community during Pride:

Buy from LGBTQ+ artists and creators

When you buy Pride merchandise (and non-Pride merchandise) from LGBTQ+ artists and creators, you can be sure that your money will directly benefit the community. However, don’t limit this practice to just June. LGBTQ+ artists, creators and business owners work all year round!

If you live in an area with a small or even non-existent LGBTQ+ community, consider buying from online creators. Etsy is a good place to start. When it comes to Pride merchandise, my personal favorite store is DeerQueer.

Read more: 7 LGBTQ+ Owned Small Businesses Will Support This Pride Month

Participate throughout the year, not just in June

Pride is not the only reason to buy LGBTQ+ products, donate or attend educational events. Community colleges often have speakers during the academic year who are part of the LGBTQ+ community and may be open to the public.

Another example is the art exhibitions hosted by LGBTQ+ artists throughout the year. Attending these events makes it easier to ensure that any money you spend goes to community members.

Invest in a business that supports LGBTQ+ interests all year

In addition to physically supporting LGBTQ+ owned businesses, allies and members of the community should also put their money in the right place. If you follow the SRI investing principles and find robo advisors to help you automate these investments, your money can go towards positive change.

In addition, you can talk to your financial advisor and create a plan for investing in LGBTQ+ communities. Your advisor is always there to make sure your investment matches your activity. as well as money goals.

Read more: Socially Responsible Investing: How to Become a Conscious Investor

Do your research before donating/buying

It’s easy to believe the first thing you read about the company, but you need to do your due diligence and take a few minutes to research your investments, charitable donations, and the products you buy. Ask yourself if the companies and organizations you support are really trying to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people.


This year, take a moment before buying Pride merch from a major online retailer. These stores could be key players in perpetuating a rosy capitalism that negatively impacts the LGBTQ+ community while putting money in the pockets of wealthy corporations.

When large companies hang their racks with rainbow flags and other merchandise, they are looking to make a profit, and only a profit. Throughout the year, they can donate to causes or people who want to disenfranchise LGBTQ+ people. Supporting queer-owned businesses is the starting point for ending rosy capitalism.

Featured Image: CREATIVE WONDER/Shutterstock.com

Read more:

Tags: , , , ,
Previous Post
Credit Cards

TSA pre-check vs. global vs. clean input

Next Post
Credit Cards

Cashback: the best redemption options – CreditCards.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *