General

Are companies really supporting the LGBTQ community or are they just profiting off of gay pride?

As any gay worth their rainbow knows, June is pride month. For the next few weeks our newsfeeds will be flooded with endless iterations of ROY G. BIV inspired products and LGBTQ inclusive advertisements. While it’s extremely tempting to lose ourselves in the rainbows, glitter and flamboyant unicorns, it’s important to consider why companies are marketing to the LGBTQ community.

Do they really care about the interests of queer people or are they simply capitalizing on pride to turn a profit?

It’s no secret that attitudes toward LGBTQ people have changed drastically in recent years. In fact, support for gay marriage among U.S. citizens has risen from 32% in 2002 to 67% in 2018 and 92% of LGBTQ adults say society has become more accepting of them in the past decade.  This acceptance of the LGBTQ community has become increasingly reflective in advertisements and companies are now publicly supporting gay rights.

But it’s easy to just slap a rainbow on shoes, shirts or bottles of alcohol for pride. The real question is: where were these companies before supporting queer people benefited their bottom line?

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The truth is, “these brands are now feeling like it’s safe and less risky to [support gay rights],” says Jenn T. Grace, an LGBTQ business strategist. “The message it sends is, ‘you weren’t important to us before when it was risky but now, only when it’s safe, we’re willing to put our neck out there and support this community. It could be that it’s the right thing to do…but if it’s not making them money, they wouldn’t do it.”

With the influx of rainbow themed logos and commercials with same-sex partners, it’s not always easy to determine which companies are genuinely supportive of gay rights. Luckily, the Human Rights Campaign developed a reliable way to assess a company’s actual attitude toward LGBTQ people: the Corporate Equality Index (CEI). This index rates American businesses (between -25-100) based on their treatment of LGBTQ employees, consumers and investors. It gives invaluable insight into a company’s true intention when using gay pride to market their products.

Below is an analysis of companies who have used LGBTQ themes to market their products. It’s up to you to decide if they’ve earned it or not!

1) Apple Inc. 

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In 2014, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, became the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Since then, Cook has capitalized on his position of power to become a prominent advocate for gay rights. He has publicly condemned the anti-LGBTQ “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (signed by then Indiana Governor Mike Pence),  personally donated a substantial amount of money to gay rights efforts in the south, led about 8,000 Apple employees in San Francisco’s gay pride parade and used his platform, and buzz about the the iPhone X, to advocate for marriage equality in Australia.

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Surprisingly, Cook’s support of the LGBTQ community has actually been good for business. His relentless corporate activism, or speaking out on controversial issues largely unrelated to a company’s bottom line, is increasing sales of Apple products. According to researchers at Harvard and Duke, this happens “when CEOs take public stands on controversial issues [because] they can galvanize support for their company from those who share the same viewpoint.”

While Cook has definitely propelled Apple’s fight for equality through his personal commitment to gay rights, the tech company has a long history of supporting the queer community. In fact, few companies have consistently supported the LGBTQ community quite like Apple Inc., formerly known as Apple Computers Inc. In 2002, the year the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index began, Apple was 1 of just 13 companies to earn the highest possible rating (100.) And, every year since, Apple has managed to maintain that perfect score.

mOMr4c0lEven when the majority of Americans did not support gay rights, Apple prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, provided diversity training in relation to sexuality and gender identity and offered transgender-inclusive insurance coverage.

In the early 1990’s, Apple even refused to build an $80 million office complex in Round Rock, Texas unless their tax-break, which was rescinded due to the company’s pro gay policies, was reinstated. Residents had accused the tech company of “bringing homosexuality into Williamson County” and even took to wearing pins that expressed their disproval of the company’s commitment to equality. In response, Apple said, “that as a matter of both principle and economics the company would not build on the 128-acre site” unless they were reimbursed for the tax-break. Ultimately, the county folded and Apple broke ground on the project in 1994.

In more recent years, Apple has continued to fight for LGBTQ rights by removing anti-gay apps from the iTunes store and supporting a Supreme Court decision, that declared the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional in 2013. After the DOMA decision, the company issued an unequivocal statement of support saying, “Apple strongly supports marriage equality and we consider it a civil rights issue. We applaud the Supreme Court for its decisions today.”

It looks like Apple has earned their right to market to the LGBTQ community! Here is Apple’s latest options for pride.

2) Target 

Target has had a somewhat complicated relationship with the LGBTQ community for the past several years. While their stores proudly display shirts promoting equality and pride, in 2010 Target gave $150,000 to a Republican-friendly political fund, MN Forward, who ran TV ads supporting state legislator Tom Emmer. At that time, Emmer was a vehement opponent of gay marriage who actively worked to support a “constitutional marriage amendment that protects traditional marriage.”

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General

21 best LGBT quotes in honor of pride

June is the best month of the year because it’s also the gayest. In honor of pride month, I’ve compiled 21 of my favorite quotes about being queer/the gay community. Even if you don’t feel accepted by loved ones, the LGBTQIA+ community will always be there for you. Be proud and realize that tons of people love you exactly as you 🙂

1) “Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it’s a good place to start.”

Jason Collins, a retired professional basketball player. In 2014, he became the first openly gay male athlete to play in U.S. professional sports.

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2) “All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.”

Harvey Milk, an American politician and the first openly gay elected official in the history of California, where he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. After serving only 11 months in office, Milk was assassinated on November 27, 1978. He was acutely aware of this possibility and is even quoted as saying, “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.”

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3) “It takes some intelligence and insight to figure out you’re gay and then a tremendous amount of balls to live it and live it proudly.”

Jason Bateman, actor and gay rights activist.
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4) “It is revolutionary for any trans person to choose to be seen and visible in a world that tells us we should not exist.”

Laverne Cox, a transgender woman, actress and LGBT advocate who became famous for her role of Sophia Burset in Netflix series, Orange is the New Black.

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5) “I very much want to inject gay culture into the mainstream. It’s not an underground tool for me. It’s my whole life.”

Lady Gaga. In 2009, the singer and gay rights activist came out as bisexual. However, in recent years, it’s possible that her sexuality has changed.

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6) “I think being gay is a blessing, and it’s something I am thankful for every single day.”

Anderson Cooper, award-winning journalist, television personality and author. In 2012, Cooper publicly came out as gay. 37c89873397dd3b2c9f49de5d278d16c.jpg

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History · religion

Was Jesus Christ gay?

We all know that Jesus Christ, the son of God, hung out with multitudes of men, spent nearly all his time with “sinners” and had an affinity for rainbows. But was Jesus Christ a member of the LGBTQIA+ community?

According to several theologians, the answer is a resounding yes.

Dr. Reverend Bob Shore-Goss, openly gay pastor and author of Queering Christ, argues that Jesus’ rejection of gender codes alone is proof of his queerness. He claims that since there was no term for homosexuality in ancient times, the fact that Jesus did not ascribe to the rules of his culture implies a subversion of heteronormativity.

In addition, Shore-Goss believes that Jesus had a homoerotic relationship with the disciple he called “beloved.” [While this disciple is never named, it’s widely believed to be John.] In an interview with Vice, Shore-Goss elaborates on his theory by describing a particularly personal exchange between the two men just before Jesus’ death.

“The beloved disciple is lying on the chest of Jesus at the last supper and is supposedly in his inner tunic,” says Shore-Gross. “[This] is what we would call underwear today. It’s a very intimate gesture, and it’s a special gesture of affection between the two.”

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(Jesus laying half naked with another man at dinner seems pretty gay to me, but what do others think?) 

Theologian Theodore Jennings, author of The Man Jesus Loved, also agrees that Jesus indisputably had relations with men as evidenced by the intimate biblical descriptions of John. Aside from Lazarus, John is the only one ever referred to as “beloved” by Jesus. (Not too many platonic friends call each other beloved).

Gerard Loughlin, a queer theologian and religious scholar, takes Jesus and John’s relationship even one step further in his book Queer Theology: Rethinking the Western Body. He argues that Jesus and John were married and the famous parable, the Wedding Feast at Cana (John 2:1-11), is actually about their gay wedding. (Now wouldn’t that be quite the twist for the religious conservatives? They’d all have to end their marriages, repent and become gay themselves!) 

Shockingly, this theory was actually quite common during ancient times. Its popularity was perpetuated by the apocryphal Acts of John, which claim that John broke off his engagement to a woman in order “bind himself” to Jesus. 

In fact, the wide spread belief of Jesus and John’s queerness is well documented in surviving art from that time period.

In The Calling of St. John (12th century), the artist depicts two scenes: Christ coaxing John away from his female bride and John resting his head upon Jesus’ chest. Jesus, in turn, cups the chin of his “beloved” which, in artistic convention, is used to indicate romantic intimacy.  The Latin reads: “Get up, leave the breast of your bride, and rest on the breast of the Lord Jesus.”

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John the Apostle resting on the bosom of Christ,” Swabia/Lake Constance, early 14th century. Photo by Andreas Praefcke

But that’s not the only artistic display of Jesus and John’s affection for each other.

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Books

5 queer characters in the Harry Potter universe

We all remember the iconic moment when J.K. Rowling stunned crowds at Carnegie Hall in 2007 by admitting that she’d always perceived Albus Dumbledore, the wisest and most powerful man in the wizarding world, as gay. In the proceeding months, J.K. sustained hefty criticism from far-right, religious leaning people. They claimed her admission of Dumbledore’s sexuality was an attempt to indoctrinate children with the “gay agenda” by normalizing a sinful and disordered disposition. It was simply too liberal. Now, nearly 11 years later, J.K. is under fire once again… except this time it’s for not being liberal enough.

A few weeks ago, David Yates, director of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald, revealed that Dumbledore’s sexuality would not be explicitly explored in the upcoming film. Many fans viewed this as blatant queer erasure and were rightfully infuriated by the avoidance of their love story.  [Any person who has read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows understands how crucial Dumbledore’s feelings for Grindewald were in the development of the plot].

However, in an attempt to reverse this most recent erasure, I am drawing attention to five possible queer characters that already exist in the Harry Potter universe! (Besides Albus Dumbledore, of course) 

1) Charlie Weasley:

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First on our list is the second eldest of the seven Weasley children, Charlie. Buff, beautiful, nicely tanned and incredibly well-liked, Charlie wouldn’t need amortentia to ensnare fellow witches or wizards. During his Hogwarts years, Charlie was the epitome of popular. He was both a prefect and the captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. In fact, his prowess as a seeker could have landed him a spot playing for England. However, Charlie never seemed interested in following in his parent’s footsteps by being fruitful and multiplying (over and over). Instead, shortly after graduating, he left for a dragon sanctuary in Romania. While there, he developed strong familial ties to friends but never married, had no children and seemed to lack any romantic or sexual desire.

According to J.K. Rowling, Charlie is “just more interested in dragons than women” Charlie is way more likely to be found chilling with a Hungarian Horntail than any partner. Even Rita Skeeter, the toxic daily prophet reporter, speculates about his decision to remain alone in her somewhat recent column on the 2014 Quidditch World Cup. She writes, “ Charlie, (dragon wrangler, still unmarried – why?)” 

However, J.K does an incredible job of portraying his identity as normal and healthy. He doesn’t need to be married, he doesn’t need to have a romantic interest for his life to be full and valid.

However, canonically labeling Charlie as asexual and aromantic would have been incredible for LGBTQIA+ visibility.

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