C/O Yoohyun Park, Multimedia Coordinator
The 2SLGBTQIA+ community is celebrated in June but come July, rainbow flags are often quickly shed by their “allies”
By Fatima Sarfraz, Staff Writer
June starts off colourful, with rainbows plastered over company merchandise and Instagram feeds. Upon opening Subway Surfers, many are pleased to find they are now running through the streets of San Francisco, which have been adorned with Pride flags. Rainbows are the only thing on gamers’ minds as they do their best to collect them on their run to unlock a new prize.
However, the game now displays the streets of Iceland, without a single pride flag in sight.
Performative and insincere activism, called “slacktivism”, can be harmful as it gives individuals the impression they are supporting a cause and a community when, in actuality, their efforts do little to support the targeted community and can even perpetuate harm against them.
Arguably, the worst slacktivists are larger corporations. They appear to be advocating for communities, such as the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, but they are also pushing their own agenda, using seemingly supportive initiatives to bring in a larger, more diverse audience and, in turn, a greater revenue.
Rainbow washing, a form of slacktivism, has become an annual marketing scheme often utilized by large corporations, including American telecommunications company AT&T. AT&T appeared supportive of the Pride movement by adding a rainbow to their logo. However, under their rainbow get-up, that they had so publicly donned, lay the ugly truth: AT&T had donated more than $63,000 to anti-2SLGBTQIA+ state legislation.
Other forms of rainbow washing could include if a corporation starts slapping the pride flag onto their regular merchandise, temporarily change their logos or launch Pride intiatives during June month without showing sustained support throughout the year.
While they continue to advocate for companies to actually take action, Dylan Horner and Kendall Gender, members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, voiced their appreciation for the visibility these marketing strategies provide. Horner believes this kind of visibility is especially helpful for individuals who are not completely comfortable with their identity or live in rural areas. Gender says sponsorships from big companies for queer creators are also beneficial as they provide financial backing that can open up new avenues for them.
As I write this article, I also can’t help but wonder what happens if a child notices their Subway Surfers character only must collect rainbows in June and maybe forms connections with the Pride flags they see around their neighbourhood. Perhaps they even will begin to wonder what these rainbows signify and who they represent.
The celebrations of this community and their rights should not be seasonal though. This community wants to see a genuine effort being made to include them. Small changes can be implemented within a company to make their operations more inclusive while also simultaneously educating and encourage the rest of team to be strong allies.
CEO and co-founder of Feminuity, Sarah Saska, proposes several solutions such as setting up data collection tools that are not limited to gender or sexuality. Saska says this helps understand a person’s identity and what they need.
Rainbow washing corporations only have their best interest in mind. They view Pride month as the perfect opportunity to promote either themselves or their merchandise. Corporations have exploited this community for too long with some even going as far as “donating” thousands, if not millions, to legislations and movements against this community. As true allies, we need to push for genuine actions that support members of the 2SLGBTQIA+.
By: Stephen Clare
Dear Movember Participants,
We’re reaching the end of that special time of year when us men can finally let the hairy caterpillars roam free on our upper lips. Some have managed to support a thriving colony of facial fungi, while others are stuck with peach fuzz. That’s the great thing about Movember, though, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter whether you’re displaying an Amazonian jungle or Saharan wasteland - everybody gets in on the fun.
That’s what Movember is all about. The inclusivity. Men (and occasionally women) united in their pursuit of that most manly of goals: a luxurious, thick moustache.
Wait. That’s not right at all. Isn’t there something more to this month?
We all love a good moustache, but in your pursuit of perfect pilosity, you’ve lost sight of Movember’s true purpose: raising money for prostate cancer research.
Be honest. How many people do you know enjoying a lip-warmer this month? Many. Now how many of those have donated to the cause? I’ll bet my peach fuzz that the answer is, for most of us, none.
But here comes the inevitable cry of protest: “I’m raising awareness,” you declare smugly.
Nonsense, I reply. What’s the point of raising awareness? It’s only to hopefully convince people to donate, and you’ve failed in that respect. Where are the Movember charity auctions? The Movember bottle drives? Unfortunately you’d rather sit at home and trim your mo.
Think of other fundraising efforts: the Terry Fox Run and Relay for Life, for example. These events get people involved and active while never losing sight of their commendable goals. Movember, at least here on campus, doesn’t have that. Movember’s become a time for dudes to razz each other about the state of their mo and make jokes about how cool Ron Swanson is. It’s not about the cancer research.
Enough is enough. Movember’s a huge sensation, and everybody loves it. You should be using this opportunity to do some good, not just demonstrate the sheen of your moustache. I think this problem is exemplified by the popularity of spin-off traditions like No-Shave November, which is both totally separate from Movember and totally separate from any kind of philanthropic ambitions. It never had a purpose; it was just an excuse for lazy college kids to look scruffy for a month.
Look, I realize that not everything you do has to have some kind of selfless, glorious goal. But Movember started out as a charity and has devolved into an excuse to ironically sport a Fu Manchu for a month. That sucks. That’s wrong. This is a great opportunity to run a month-long fundraiser for an excellent cause, and have fun while doing it. Make it happen.
Go to ca.movember.com/donate to show you care.
Put your money where your moustache is. Less mo, more dough.