Is this pandering? Or is it progress?

Graphic from Buzzfeed

Graphic from Buzzfeed

I was poking around in a marketing forum on FB, as one does. One brand manager posted this graphic and asked for feedback from LGBTQ forum members. His question: Is this pandering? Or is this great representation?

And I love this question so much. Here’s why.

Four years ago when the Supreme Court stunned me by making marriage equality real in this country, I did what many people did that night—I made a rainbow version of my Facebook avatar and surfed the internet for photos of joy and victory. It was a great day.

The only dark spot was when I clicked over to the Facebook post of a Boston sports team. It was either the Patriots (I think it was the Patriots) or the Red Sox. I wish I remembered for sure. But one of those teams had made its logo a rainbow that day. And the ensuing comments were…not good. I mean, there were many joyous comments, but many awful ones. Some said “I don’t know why you have to make my sports team political!” (As if basic human rights were political. But I digress.) And some comments were downright awful.

The sports team left it up there a good long time. I remember that I checked.

So, on that night four years ago, that logo swap struck me as very brave. They really didn’t have to do it. Many fans hated it, and they did it anyway.

Fast forward four years and rainbow June is as ubiquitous as Pinktober. And now a marketer scratches his chin and asks…is this pandering? Are these companies showing support just to get more of my money?

The conversation on this thread went in lots of engaging directions. IE: the companies painting their logos in rainbow stripes should also be doing everything they can to support their LGBTQ employees. Once-a-year lip service isn’t enough. All true!

Yet, as I sit here in full view of some rainbow Starbucks merch, I am struck with joy that that these days the LGBTQ community can be pandered to by corporate America.

The question itself is progress!

To be clear, I’m not really qualified to answer the question of whether it’s pandering or not. (And I never do “Pride Promo” on my books because I don’t like the idea that we should only read diverse things in June.)

But I do enjoy the idea of some small-minded person getting into an Uber with a rainbow sticker or opening his vile Twitter account to find a rainbow splashed across it. I imagine he shrivels a little like the Wicked Witch of the West in a drizzle.

Taste the rainbow, friends. In June and all year long.