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  • Writer's pictureDesi Napoles

Pride Month 2024: Reflections on Corporate Support and Recent Developments

Desmond Napoles, a 17-year-old LGBTQ+ youth advocate, has authored the following opinion piece. Through his extensive platform dedicated to educating, inspiring, and empowering young people about the LGBTQ+ community and its progress, Desmond offers profound reflections on his experiences and perspectives for Pride Month 2024.

This image does not depict Desmond Napoles.

Pride Month has always been a time of celebration, remembrance, and continued advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community. As our movement has gained more mainstream acceptance, we've seen an increase in corporate involvement – a development that brings both opportunities and challenges.

Corporate support during Pride Month is a complex issue. The visibility and representation that comes with corporate backing can be powerful, helping to normalize our existence in society and provide a sense of acceptance. Many companies use Pride Month to donate to important causes, fund LGBTQ+ programs, or sponsor Pride events, providing crucial financial support for smaller organizations.

However, there's always the risk of "rainbow washing" – using Pride and LGBTQ+ imagery for profit without providing substantial support to the community. It's easy for a company to change their logo for a month without addressing real issues facing LGBTQ+ individuals or supporting the community year-round.

This year, we've seen a concerning trend of some corporations scaling back their Pride initiatives. The most notable example is Target, which announced it would limit its Pride Month merchandise in 2024, offering it only online and in select stores based on "historical sales performance." This decision, made in response to pressure from right-wing groups, is deeply disappointing and highlights the fragility of corporate allyship when faced with opposition.

As Kelley Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign, stated, this move "alienates LGBTQ+ individuals and allies at the risk of not only their bottom line but also their values." The Target situation underscores a crucial point: while corporate support can be valuable, it cannot be the foundation of our movement. True progress and lasting change come from grassroots efforts, community organizing, and unwavering commitment to our values.

Another significant development in Pride Month 2024 is the increased focus on security. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning about potential threats to LGBTQ+ events and venues during Pride Month. While it's crucial to take these warnings seriously, it's equally important that we don't allow fear to deter us from celebrating our identities and advocating for our rights.

On a more positive note, one of the most heartening developments I've observed is the continued growth of grassroots LGBTQ+ initiatives and community-led events. As some corporations have stepped back, local organizations and individuals have stepped up, organizing events that truly reflect the spirit and diversity of our community. These efforts often focus on intersectionality, recognizing that our community includes people of all races, ethnicities, abilities, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

There's also been an increased emphasis on education and advocacy alongside celebration during Pride Month. Many events now include educational components, such as workshops on LGBTQ+ history, panel discussions on current issues, and training sessions on advocacy techniques. This focus on education helps ensure that Pride remains connected to its roots as a protest movement and continues to drive meaningful change.

The scaling back of some corporate Pride initiatives, while disappointing, has sparked important conversations within our community about the role of corporate support in our movement. It has encouraged many to seek out and support LGBTQ+-owned businesses and organizations instead, allowing us to circulate resources within our community.

As we navigate Pride Month 2024, it's crucial to remember that our strength lies in our community and our unwavering commitment to equality and acceptance. The challenges we face serve as reminders that our work is far from over, but they also provide opportunities for our community to come together, to reaffirm our values, and to continue pushing for progress.

Moving forward, we need to hold corporations accountable, celebrating those that demonstrate genuine, year-round commitment to LGBTQ+ causes while being critical of performative allyship. We should use our purchasing power to support businesses that align with our values.

It's also crucial that we continue to support and uplift LGBTQ+ voices and organizations. This can take many forms – from volunteering with local LGBTQ+ groups to supporting LGBTQ+ artists and creators to donating to organizations that provide vital services to our community.

As we celebrate Pride Month 2024, let's remember the words of Marsha P. Johnson: "No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us." This sentiment is as relevant today as it was decades ago. Our pride must be intersectional, inclusive, and focused on uplifting the most marginalized members of our community.

Despite the challenges we face, there is much to be proud of and hopeful for. Our community has shown time and time again that we are resilient, creative, and unstoppable when we come together. The setbacks we've experienced this year are not defeats – they are calls to action, reminders of the work that still needs to be done.

To everyone reading this, I encourage you to get involved. Support local LGBTQ+ organizations, educate yourself and others about LGBTQ+ history and current issues, and continue to be visible and proud of who you are. Remember that pride is not just for June – it's a year-round commitment to equality and self-acceptance.

As we navigate the complexities of corporate involvement, security concerns, and ongoing societal challenges, let's not lose sight of the joy and power of our community. Our pride is not dependent on corporate support or societal acceptance – it comes from within us, from our love for ourselves and each other, and from our unwavering belief in the dignity and worth of every LGBTQ+ individual.

Happy Pride Month 2024, everyone. May it be a time of celebration, reflection, and renewed

commitment to our ongoing fight for equality. Remember, in the words of Harvey Milk, "Hope will never be silent." Let our pride be a beacon of that hope, shining brightly for all to see.

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