On June 26, 2015, mere hours after the Supreme Court of the United States issued their landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage across the country, big-box retailer Target tweeted: “Here’s to having, holding and marrying who you love. #takepride #SCOTUSMarriage.”
On the surface, it seemed like a lovely—maybe even welcome — gesture. But go back exactly three years, to when Target mysteriously refused to stock Frank Ocean’s LP Channel Orange shortly after the
singer made ambiguous statements surrounding his sexuality, and it all seems insincere. Although Target denied that pulling Ocean’s album came down to his sexuality, others were quick to point out the company’s donations to various anti-marriage equality political groups and politicians, with Lady Gaga going so far as to terminate her working relationship with the retailer. Hmm.
So what changed, if anything at all? It’s hard to say, but it doesn’t stop with Target. Countless brands and corpo-rations were quick to jump on the marriage equality bandwagon on Friday, with social media turning into a duplicity of logos coloured like rainbows, mascots waving pride flags, and atrociously terrible wordplay with company slogans. (#LetFreedomWing? Really, JetBlue Airways?)
Nobody’s fooled by this, are they? We all know that this is a superficial attempt to win the hearts of progressive consumers everywhere, right? Where were all these companies when people fought tirelessly for marriage equality? Oh, that’s right: It didn’t make fiscal sense for them to speak in support of marriage equality before, lest the highest court in the land came down on the other (see: wrong) side of history.
Of course, marriage equality has been a settled issue here in Canada for 10 years now, but that hasn’t stopped the excitement from spilling across our border. All your Facebook friends have donned their rainbow profile pictures in a display of solidarity; but as one Facebook user points out, what have they done for the LGBT community lately? Actions speak louder than words, and slapping a rainbow on your profile page, washing your hands of the whole thing, and saying “Good enough! #LoveWins!” is . . . well, not much support at all.
Where were these voices when the federal government effectively terminated Bill C-279, a bill written to fight hate crimes against transgender individuals by adding gender identity provisions to both the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act? Where were these voices when Caitlyn Jenner announced her identity to the world, and people called her a “science project?”
The long and short of it is this: Gay pride and solidarity require that we go beyond waving a flag and tweeting a hashtag. It requires real, honest, sincere action, and knowing that words have meaning; It is not something to appropriate when it is convenient to you, especially if you’re not part of the community that struggles to be recognized every single day. When somebody you know disparages the LGBT community, call them on it. When politicians act against the interests of the community, call them on it again. Only when real action is taken can we truly say that love wins.