This summer’s Pride festivities have been changed drastically because of the circumstances the world is facing. I was, of course, disappointed (but not surprised) to hear that Toronto’s Pride Festival was cancelled. It’s a great time to celebrate my community and focus on feeling truly proud of my identity and how long it took me to embrace it.
But, having to adjust the ways I am celebrating this year isn’t all bad. It makes for a great opportunity to consider if I’m using my money the right way during Pride month. Especially considering so much of Pride has become overshadowed by corporations and capitalism.
What is rainbow capitalism?
To put it simply, it is the way corporations profit off of queer people, especially during pride month, by selling rainbow merchandise and making it seem like a visible expression of your pride and identity.
For a community that often feels underrepresented, it’s easy to get urged into purchasing these kinds of things. And if you do, you shouldn’t feel guilty! We simply want to express our pride outwardly and merchandise like this makes it easier.
But, it also gives us a good opportunity to reflect on other ways we could use our money during pride month to better support and uplift our community.
If you can, donate to LGBTQ+ organizations
This is seriously one of the most important things you can do if you’re able. LGBTQ+ people face discrimination in many forms. LGBTQ+ organizations exist to help combat this discrimination and provide resources to support queer people.
Queer people are more likely to experience mental illness, homelessness, and wage and employment discrimination in comparison to cis-heterosexual people.
Of course, if you’re queer and are able to support the community through monetary donations, that’s great! But cis-heterosexual people should also not hesitate to do so. Especially if you consider yourself an ally or frequent Pride events.
There are plenty of LGBTQ+ organizations to consider donating to. It’s important to do your research and check out more local charities too. Here are a few worth looking into:
- The Trevor Project
- Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund
- National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network
- Marsha P. Johnson Institute
- Plus, a list of organizations by province
Support queer art and businesses
Do your best to seek out queer-run small businesses and independent artists to support during pride. This allows you to support the community in a very direct way and make yourself more aware of places to to give your business and support in the future, whether it’s June or not.
Evaluate your buying power
If you’re looking to support more LGBTQ+ businesses, it’s also a good time to evaluate where your money has gone in the past. In a 2017 study, 28% of lesbians and gay men reported they would stop supporting businesses that made political/monetary contributions to political candidates, parties, and organizations that supported opposing (read: homophobic) views. This was even if there was no other alternatives.
Regardless of if you are a part of the LGBTQ+ community, it is important to look into what the money you spend is truly funding. A big part of personal finance, to me, is using your money in a way that supports your worldviews and beliefs. Now is a good time to consider if this is something you are doing.
You can (and should) celebrate your Pride for free!
Now, onto the fun stuff!
Pride is a protest and a celebration. And it should definitely not be ruled by money. Despite what it may seem like, you can, and should, celebrate for free!
Here’s some ways I plan on celebrating this month:
- Reading work by LGBTQ+ writers I admire
- Brushing up on my queer history lessons, whether through film or reading
- Spending time catching up with my queer friends and checking in on them
What I’m reading:
- Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde
- When We Rise: My Life In The Movement by Cleve Jones
A gentle reminder: you don’t need to be rich to be LGBTQ+
And of course, many of us queers are far from rich. But, with the ever present societal pressures to “look” like you’re queer, it can feel incredibly invalidating to live a queer existence without the fund to support what it might seem like it should look like.
In fact ,oftentimes these looks seem unattainable when you don’t have the money to express yourself in the ways that you wish to. And from personal experience I can honestly say this can easily lead into a thought spiral of “am I not queer enough?”
Rich LGBTQ+ people are the people we often have to look up to. Their experiences are usually much different from ours and it can put an unrealistic expectation on how we should exist.
It is already hard and costly enough to exist as a queer person
The mental toll that oppression and internalized homophobia and/or transphobia takes on you is taxing (and can easily affect your finances). A lot of us lack proper access to necessary resources because of discrimination, too.
Money is always going to be a valid stressor in our lives, but it is important, especially in a time of celebration, to embrace your queer identity for all that it is. And money does not define that.
To all the LGBTQ+ folks: Happy Pride!
And to all the allies: make sure you’re checking in on, supporting, and celebrating queer people in the right ways. Whether you’re able to do so financially or not.