It's almost the end of Pride Month, which means corporations and companies that proudly displayed rainbow logos will soon be putting them away once the calendar hits July 1st. Sure, it's great that these corporations step up during Pride Month, however is it allyship or a money grab? This practice, known as Rainbow Washing or pink washing, is when businesses use the rainbow pride flag colors to imply their support of the queer community without doing any tangible actions to support this.

Rainbow Washing Involves Using the Pride Colors for Profit

As the LGBTQ+ community gains visibility in mainstream society, companies have discovered that marketing with rainbows during June is an easy way to profit from this month of queer celebration and resistance. From slapping a rainbow sticker on products to advertising with queer models, this practice may look like acceptance at first glance. However, the majority of the companies who market toward the queer community during Pride month show anything but support during the other 11 months of the year.

Happy Multiracial people celebrating gay pride event - Group of friends with different age and race fighting for gender equality rights
Getty Images/Alessandro Biascioli

The Pride flag is a symbol of the queer community's long history of resistance against oppression, along with a representation of the diversity within the queer community. To use this historical symbol for profit, especially by companies who oppress the queer community behind closed doors, is a slap in the face to the many queer people who fought for their rights under the same colors. It's also damaging because it tricks unsuspecting members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies to spend money on companies who don't truly support them.

Signs of Rainbow Washing during Pride Month:

  • Temporary logo changes 
  • Use of rainbow colors on products
  • Using queer models or team members in content
  • Corporate groups marching in Pride parades
  • Launching Pride initiatives 

Many of these practices are done by companies who don't donate to LGBTQ+ causes or show any true support of the community. Even worse, many companies who engage in rainbow washing have been known to underpay queer talent, foster an unsafe workplace for queer employees, and donate to openly homophobic companies and politicians. 

rainbow listerine bottle
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To get perspective on the rainbow washing from within the queer community, we reached out to the owner of Saint Luna, an LGBTQ+ owned and operated moonshine brand bringing the lighting liquor to craft cocktail bars. As explained by Co-Owners David Suk and Aubrey Slater: 

"Visibility means the world to someone who has never truly felt seen, and in many cases feels "less than" because of their sexuality.Mainstream visibility can feel like acceptance for some and show them that they aren't alone. Unfortunately many believe that Pride has become far too corporatized and that companies will say anything to get your business, a term we call Rainbow washing. It's why we believe supporting queer owned and operated business are important. Authenticity is something that Saint Luna prides itself on."

4 Companies Who Support the Queer Community All Year Long

Pride month
Getty Images/Mixmike

To avoid spending your money on companies who falsely support the queer community, it's important to look into the practices and spending of the corporations brazenly flaunting the Pride flag during the month of June. Look for organizations, such as Saint Luna, who employ members of the queer community, address LGBTQ+ issues, and donate to LGBTQ+ causes. Saint Luna shares,,

 "Authenticity is important. Don't just support a business because their logo turns into a Pride Flag, in the month of June. If you want to support diversity, look at companies that have a diverse executive team and board of directors or better yet, companies that are in fact queer owned. Look for companies that walk the walk. Support diverse-owned businesses, and business that align with your belief system." 

Some companies to spend your money on during Pride month are:

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola has long been a supporter of the LGBTQ community, from offering transgender-inclusive healthcare to fighting aginst anti-LGBTQ legislation. This beverage company has received 100% on the Human Rights Campaign for its Corporate Equality Index for nearly two decades and is an excellent company to support during Pride month.

Starbucks

Starbucks is more than just the most popular coffee shop in the world, they're also a supporter of the LGTBQ+ community. The Starbucks Foundation "Opportunity For All" grants donate to groups like Center on Halsted in Chicago, an organization that helps unemployed members of the queer community.

Ben & Jerry's

Ben & Jerry's is another company who's known as a staunch supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. This beloved ice cream shop is vocal in its support of gay marriage, along with having a grant program that gives out millions of dollars each year to different causes. The program supports community action, economic justice and grassroots campaigns, many of which are aligned with queer causes.

Pepsi

Pepsi is another corporation that always scores high on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index. They also donate to events that support the queer community like the HRC Foundation's Historically Black College and University LGBT Student Leadership Summit.

The Candy Darling Pride Cocktail

candy darling cocktailTo celebrate Pride, Aubrey Slater of Saint Luna created The Candy Darling, a fun and bubbly cocktail dripping with flavors of bubblegum and mint. 

To make this refreshing, summery cocktail, start by making the Bubblegum-infused Aquavit at least 24 hours ahead of time. Quarter the bubblegum pieces and place them in a sealable glass jar. Add the 2 cups of aquavit, seal the jar and place in a cool dark place. Stir every 4 hours for the next 24 hours, except for overnight when you can allow the mixture to sit. After 24 hours, strain out the pieces of gum through a paper coffee filter or strainer.

Next, make the Spearmint Syrup, adding 1.5 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water to a small saucepan and heat on medium to a light rolling boil. Let the mixture cool and then add in 6 drops of spearmint oil, adding extra for a super minty syrup or less for a milder flavor.

Add moonshine, bubblegum-infused aquavit, lemon juice, lime juice, spearmint syrup and egg white to your shaker and shake vigorously without ice for 20 seconds.  Add 3 ice cubes and shake vigorously again for at least 30 seconds. Strain into chilled coupe or cocktail glass. 

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The Candy Darling 

Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time:

drink

INGREDIENTS

  • The Candy Darling Cocktail
  • 2 oz Saint Luna Moonshine
  • 1 oz Bubblegum infused Asbury Distilling aquavit 
  • .75 oz lemon juice
  • .5 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz spearmint syrup 
  • egg white
  • Bubblegum Infused Asbury Distilling Aquavit 
  • 2 cups aquavit
  • 10 pieces double Bubblegum or super Bubblegum 
  • Spearmint Syrup
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 drops spearmint oil

Instructions

To make this refreshing, summery cocktail, start by making the Bubblegum-infused Aquavit at least 24 hours ahead of time. Quarter the bubblegum pieces and place them in a sealable glass jar. Add the 2 cups of aquavit, seal the jar and place in a cool dark place. Stir every 4 hours for the next 24 hours, except for overnight when you can allow the mixture to sit. After 24 hours, strain out the pieces of gum through a paper coffee filter or strainer.

Next, make the Spearmint Syrup, adding 1.5 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water to a small saucepan and heat on medium to a light rolling boil. Let the mixture cool and then add in 6 drops of spearmint oil, adding extra for a super minty syrup or less for a milder flavor.

Add moonshine, bubblegum-infused aquavit, lemon juice, lime juice, spearmint syrup and egg white to your shaker and shake vigorously without ice for 20 seconds.  Add 3 ice cubes and shake vigorously again for at least 30 seconds. Strain into chilled coupe or cocktail glass.