This Pride Month meme perfectly mocks all the cringey corporate virtue signaling

I'd rather have rights than a rainbow ATM machine.

"Organize with Pride" sign in pride colors as an ad on the door of a container store, mocking corpor...
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It’s only the first day of Pride Month, but we’ve already seen examples of painfully inauthentic virtue signaling from corporations, and we’re bracing ourselves for more. Is Chase Bank going to disseminate worthless, limited-edition pink dollar bills this year? Will General Motors respond to all of their Instagram messages with “Oh slay, big slay” until June 30? All I know is — especially on a year like this, when anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is popping up across the country — we just don’t have the capacity to deal with capitalist bullshit, and a new meme perfectly captures how tired we really are.

The meme parodies how every June, corporations “partner” with trans and queer influencers and ask them to exploit their trauma in the name of #SponCon, but cranks it up several notches.

“As a gay black woman who grew up in a cult, I was afraid to come out of the closet,” one Twitter user wrote. “That’s why this month I’m partnering with IKEA to build my dream closet.”

These hilarious yet dark memes span the many possibilities of capitalist pandering, and they all get at the absurdity of how corporations sound when they use our pain to gain our elusive “yas queen” points.

But the tweets are also a condemnation of how companies caricaturize what it means to be queer and market a version of gayness that’s materialistic, flat, and downright cringey (Someone has to tell Wal-Mart their rainbow tank-tops are hideous. Actually, I guess I just did).

I’ll be the first to admit that in any other year, I probably would’ve let this slide. But this far from a “any” year, especially for young queer and trans people of color. In 2021, more trans and non-binary people were murdered than in any other year since the Human Rights Campaign started keeping track. In March, Florida’s governor signed the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which prohibits elementary schools from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity. Queer books have been banned all over the country, and transgender athletes have been barred from competing in sports across several states. Lately, it feels like the government is working pretty hard to erase us.

So, unless these companies are queer- or trans-founded or show a sustained commitment to our community outside of the month of June, I just don’t buy what they’re putting down. No amount of photoshopped rainbows is going to protect queer people of color or trans youth from being isolated, bullied, or killed. We’re at a point in our history when we demand a little bit more than the bare minimum. What we want now is corporations to consistently pressure the government to make this a country where we are valued and safe.