Rainbow Capitalism

Rainbow capitalism, also called pink capitalism or gay capitalism, is when businesses use the LGBTQ movement in order to profit off it. The rainbow color scheme and themes of queerness are incorporated in marketing materials or products. Although rainbow capitalism in theory sounds empowering and supportive within the new era stepping closer to equality, it may also be detrimental to the true goals of the movement by falsely marketing companies as LGBTQ friendly, capitalizing off of consumers.

Having attended my first two Pride events in New York City, I could definitely view the difference between now and then. Pride marches started in the 1970s after the Stonewall Riots, in which LGBTQ patrons at the Stonewall Inn protested constant mistreatment by police. Now, Pride has become more of a consumerist event that overtakes spaces meant for queer people. Corporate sponsors boast large floats of celebrities and rainbow merchandise, effectively erasing queer oppression and turning Pride into a party that ignores current issues of homophobia. While Pride can and should be celebratory for LGBTQ people, corporations have recognized the wave of allyship that is profitable and exploitable for their own purposes.

Part of the reason why rainbow capitalism has been celebrated is because it’s easy–it’s much easier to slap a rainbow sticker on your laptop than it is to address institutional problems such as the exclusion of of queer people of color from LGBTQ spaces or homeless queer youth.

So the next time Pride rolls around, I urge you to think about and educate yourself on the history of Pride and what it means. Are you supporting LGTBQ people and spaces? If you’re an ally, are you helping queer people or treating Pride just as a party? Wear your rainbows proudly, but always remember the fight for equality.


Student at the University of Michigan studying Art & Design and Communication & Media, hoping to create meaningful design for social impact. Every week I highlight an intriguing artist (or group of artists)!

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1 Comment on "Rainbow Capitalism"

5 years 3 months ago

Interesting… I haven’t really thought about this before. Do you think it’s being done as a marketing device or do you think companies are still not self-aware enough to realize some of their policies/actions/philosophies are not as LGBTQ-supportive as they imagine?