On Sunday, Oct. 14, queer people and allies swarmed the sidewalks of Peachtree St. in Atlanta, GA for the annual Pride Parade. Down the middle of Georgia’s largest metropolitan city marched hundreds of organizations, politicians and corporations showing their support for the LGBTQ community. Atlanta’s pride sponsored well over 50 corporations and businesses in 2018, many of whom walked in the annual Pride March. As queer identities and representation gain further acceptance into mainstream culture, businesses commodify the LGBTQ population at an alarming rate.
“With approximately 300,000 patrons in attendance each year, Atlanta Pride provides numerous marketing and branding opportunities for businesses,” the Atlanta Pride festival website reads. “Sponsoring Atlanta Pride is a great way to market [and] gain visibility in the LGBTQ community.
Businesses should support pride for the inherent equality of LGBTQ individuals rather than as “numerous marketing and branding opportunities for businesses” or as “a great way to market and gain visibility in the LGBTQ community.” Referring to Pride participants as a market and branding opportunity reduces a movement that started from oppression to an economic conquest. By integrating such a high number of corporate sponsors into Atlanta Pride’s march, the event disrespects and diminishes the queer community by turning people into dollars signs.
It’s true that Atlanta Pride needs sponsors to continue hosting a free parade and festival yearly; planning and organization would be nigh impossible without financial support. However, local solutions, rather than large business ones, can be found.
Saturday, Oct. 13 and Sunday, Oct. 14, vendors and booths sold their goods to attendees. The radio station POWER 96.1 hosted a concert on Saturday for seven hours, during which LGBTQ people purchased items, food and drinks from booths bordering the walkways. Numerous local opportunities for profit peppered Pride; therefore, corporations should leave the march to the people.
Few events give LGBTQ folks the opportunity to build and celebrate their marginalized community. Corporations invading the little time and space queer people earned by marching in the Pride Parade not only disrespects the queer community, but insults the historical nature of Pride. Pride started as a riot by trans women of color, by marginalized queer people. Queer people continue to fight for their rights, like transgender bathroom laws and better HIV/AID healthcare, and continue to fight for their space to celebrate their identities. To celebrate properly, leave the partying to the people; large businesses needs to take a backseat to humanity.