Celebrating Pride Month in the Age of #BlackLivesMatter

Ongoing protests against racism and police violence in America have refocused Pride Month on its protest roots.  

June is Pride Month. And there is plenty for the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate – earlier this month, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that federal employment protections cover LGBTQ+ people. While only 8% of respondents to a 2019 Collage Group survey say they celebrate Pride Month regularly, this figure jumps to 18% for Gen Z. Young people are more likely than ever to be supportive of LGBTQ+ rights, and are far more likely than older generations to personally identify as LGBTQ+.

Recent years have seen ever-growing Pride Month celebrations, including parades across the world and recognition from many of the world’s biggest brands. In 2020, both the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing anti-racism protests make it impossible to celebrate Pride Month like usual. As gay rights have expanded and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community has grown, Pride Month has become something more akin to a party than a protest. This year, however, advocates encouraged people to remember that Pride has its roots in the struggle between marginalized communities, including communities of color, and the police.

On June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York City. The patrons resisted, and protests grew violent. Stonewall attracted a diverse clientele of people across the LGBTQ+ spectrum. While the exact sequence of events is fuzzy, many credit Black and Hispanic transgender women, including activists Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Stormé DeLarverie with leading the fight that evening. LGBTQ+ people and allies from the surrounding neighborhoods flocked to join the protests, which lasted five days. The Stonewall Riots represented a turning point in the gay rights movement. Afterward, gay rights organizations and publications sprang up around the country. In 1970, the LGBTQ+ community marched through New York City on the anniversary of the riots, participating in what is widely thought of as the first Pride Parade.

Recognition of this history has led to increased activism. In our recent survey on racism and current events, we found that LGBTQ+ consumers are significantly more likely than non-LGBTQ+ consumers to have engaged in direct action in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement in recent weeks.

LGBTQ+ consumers stand with Black Lives Matter

This segment’s activism has direct implications for brands and corporations. LGBTQ+ consumers are significantly more likely than non-LGBTQ+ consumers to believe companies have a responsibility to speak out against racism and advocate for changes in government policy.

Direct action activates LGBTQ+ consumers

And they are more willing to support those brands that do take a stand. 64 percent of LGBTQ+ respondents said they would be “more likely to buy products from brands and companies that take a stand against police violence,” in comparison to 47 percent of non-LGBTQ+ consumers.

LGBTQ+ consumers will spend more on brands who take a stand against racism

If your brand wants to capture market share with the LGBTQ+ segment, remember that their fight for equality and civil rights has always existed in parallel, and often hand-in-hand, with the struggle for racial justice. That’s a strategy you can employ every month, not just in June.

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