Happy Monday, friends, and Happy Pride Month! Pride Month is a fascinating exercise in community dynamics, performative allyship mixed with capitalism and corporate greed, and public politics. Beginning promptly at 12am on June 1 and ending at precisely 12:01am on July 1, the United States becomes awash in rainbow. Even before Pride Month began, Target was already engulfed in controversy when they pulled part of their “Pride Collection” due to consumer outrage. The message was clear, the corporation wasn’t interested in supporting the Queer community, it was interested in driving profits on the back of the LGBTQIA+ community. Let’s be clear, it’s not just for-profit companies that will change their colors to the rainbow, governments will fly Pride flags and illuminate their buildings in color. Moderate to progressive churches, synagogues, and other places of worship with also decorate in rainbows and preach LGBTQIA+ sermons.
This might be a strange moment to mention a company I refer to as “homophobic chickens”—that’s Chick Fil La for anyone who doesn’t know me well—but I respect their commitment to their values, warped, homophobic, and transphobic though they are. Chick Fil La is a family-owned, privately-held corporation that doesn’t operate on Sundays and requires its employees—many of whom are teenagers and young adults—to attend etiquette classes. You can go to Chick Fil La locations and receive a down home experience packaged in a major fast-food chain. Several years ago, when they were the butt of every joke because of their obstinate opposition to marriage equality, they didn’t let up. From a marketing and economic standpoint, you could argue that they understood that their customer base either support their messages or didn’t care about those messages. Unfortunately for those of us who boycotted their restaurants, they didn’t lose much business.
Why do I mention the “homophobic chickens?” Because they prioritized their values over consumer pressure to do otherwise. The same cannot be said for the vast majority of the corporations that will spend this month pandering to us through well placed marketing “demonstrating” their commitment to the rights and lives of Queer people and allies. While strategic brand analysis was probably not a consideration in first century Palestine, Jesus similarly ignored what people wanted to hear or even what they wanted him to do and spoke his truth in a world that wasn’t always ready to listen.
As people of faith and as American consumers, we need to judge those people, those preachers, those churches, those brands, and those corporations to whom we give our attention, our loyalty, and our money to this Pride Month and beyond. We need to ask ourselves how people and companies and churches show up outside of Pride month. Do the colors and the rainbows go away? Do the statements about affirmation and inclusivity fall silent?
Which brands support your values even after Pride Month is over? Who will you invest in during Pride?
Let us pray: Jesus, you preached the truth regardless of what others thought about you or your message. You carried your message so far that the state put you to death in a failed attempt to silence you. Teach us how to advocate with that tenacity and to stand up to messages that only have profit and greed at their cores. Help us live into the truth that Pride is all the time and that our mission of creating heaven on earth is greater than 30 days of performance. Amen.
Blessings on your weeks, my friends! Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.