New York City

Some Members of LGBTQ Community Believe ‘Pride' Has Gotten Too Commercial

As a result of what they say is corporations taking over the Pride march, one group has organized the “Queer Liberation March" that will be ahead of the official march Sunday

What to Know

  • As Pride has become more mainstream, more corporations and brands have adopted the message, but some worry the message is getting lost
  • As a result, one group has organized the “Queer Liberation March" that will be ahead of the official march on Sunday
  • But Pride march officials say there's room for all kinds of pride events in this city, and commercialization is just a byproduct of success

Almost every popular clothing brand is doing it. The biggest banks too. Even Bubba Gump Shrimp in Times Square is proudly celebrating World Pride Month in New York City with Pride-themed signage and merchandise.

“Everywhere you look, there are corporate rainbows,” says Ann Northrop, a longtime gay rights activist and journalist.

Northrup shakes her head as she walks past gigantic electronic billboards, advertising all sorts of rainbow gear, in Manhattan’s commercial epicenter.

“It all makes me cringe because it’s so obvious,” she says. “It’s so predatory.”

With Pride as mainstream as ever, Northrop is not alone in feeling as if the representation has crossed into exploitation.

“I think they’re making money off my community,” said Robin Scott. “Not necessarily supporting my community.”

Supporters of corporate involvement see it differently. Jonathan Lovitz of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce says the commercialization is a sign of progress.

"It’s all about visibility," Lovitz points out. "For the kid out there who comes to the big city, walks through Times Square or Rockefeller Center and sees that, it’s changing, if not saving a life."

"It’s really cool to see the representation," said Jacob Devol, as he stopped for a moment in Times Square while taking wedding photos with his husband. "It’s amazing in comparison to when we were growing up, but it does seem a little bit put on."

On this 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, the movement’s progress is also marked by the rapid growth of the march.

Millions turn out for what has evolved into a massive party, complete with major corporate sponsors and fun floats.

But for some in the community, the message is getting lost in all the hoopla.

“This parade doesn’t care about me, doesn’t want to listen to my needs and is not fighting for what matters,” Scott said.

That’s why she joined others in group called “Reclaim Pride” and organized the first-ever “Queer Liberation March.” It’s happening on Sunday before the official march and will run up 6th Avenue — but without any corporate involvement.

“Yes Pride was a riot, but that riot paved the road toward progress that we have to go down together,” says Lovitz, “because we will not succeed apart.”

Pride march officials say there's room for all kinds of pride events in this city. And supporters point out that corporate revenue can ease the burden for advocacy groups and non-profits, while the concerns of commercialization are simply a byproduct of success.

"We came from the shadows very much into the light ans now we're marching own Fifth Avenue, claiming we'll never go back in the closet again, because we have more allies and mroe cohesion with other diverse communities in America," said Lovitz.

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