It began with the 1969 Stonewall riots in which, for the first time ever, a mass of people who identified as “gay” came together to protest a police raid on one of the few safe havens for such a group; the Stonewall Inn. Never before had such a large number of gay individuals been seen together in the daylight hours and it is considered to constitute the most important event leading to the gay liberation movement.
Since then we have been gifted with a yearly celebration in which LGBT people can come together to mark the progress made, the increasingly rare injustices that still occur, and the losses suffered along the way. However, in recent years the attendance for the march is now in the millions, and the organisation of such a large event cannot be done without a lot of money - enter the corporations.
These brands serve a purpose, they contribute the much needed money which allows the event to continue and grow, and subsequently these companies benefit from their exposure. The resentment is rooted in what they do in the other 51 weeks of the year. These same companies can be seen lobbying Republican politicians with views antithetical to LGBT rights. Understandably people view this as a cynical toe-dip into the water of justice before a scurrying back to their political home of tax-cuts. The question is what can be done? A frustrated movement is picking up steam, and this year alongside the Pride march there will be a protest against this commercialisation. While this more traditional form of activism has its merits, others see the solution as attainable via another route - working with the companies year round to ensure they are always aligned with the movement. Ultimately the beautiful message at the core of this is being obfuscated, and I see our place as trying to hold to that essence because to lose it would be a very sad thing indeed.