12 / 06 / 18
06 / 06 / 18
This months Interfaith Voices is celebrating Pride Month, with the theme ‘Taking pride in my faith’. In her blog piece Hannah considers some recent marketing and promotional campaigns she has seen for both Muslims and the LGBT+ community, debating whether this demonstrates diversity and inclusion or if companies are using these groups and their celebrations for monetary gain. She reflects on growing up under Section 28 and how perhaps her perceptions of Pride and the LGBT+ community would have been affected by the positive representations we see today.
Ramadan Mubarak and Happy Pride season, readers!
On my way to work today the new Coca-Cola advert popped up on my newsfeed. It features a woman who misses her bus home as iftar time approaches, so is offered a coke by another woman to break her fast. It ends with the quote ‘what unites us is bigger than what divides us’.
Is this a positive thing – an example of diversity and inclusion in mainstream marketing? Or an example of capitalism reducing the sacred into another money-making exercise?
Being LGBT+ I’ve seen this kind of thing a lot recently. As we are approaching Pride season, my morning newsfeed also included a sponsored post from River Island inviting me to buy from their new range of rainbow t-shirts.
Instinctively I am cynical about this. It’s hard to believe that companies like River Island care about LGBT+ people, or that this is their way joining our fight for equality. If it were, they’d be donating the profits to local Pride marches, and ensuring their clothes aren’t made in sweat shops in countries where it’s illegal to be LGB or T. It frustrates me to see Pride becoming a parade of corporate floats advertising their brands; Pride should be a protest, a safe space for queer people, a celebration of the community groups and charities who genuinely support LGBT+ people and culture.
But on the other hand, as a person who believes so strongly in equality and the celebration of diversity, seeing the increasing presence of people from different backgrounds in marketing must be a good thing on some level. I grew up under Section 28, and before the internet was in everyone’s pockets, so I didn’t see or hear much about being LGBT+ in my early years, and what I did usually wasn’t positive. In fact, I used to shop in River Island with my big sister and my mum when I was a child, and I can’t help but think how different I might have felt growing up seeing rainbow t-shirts and positive symbols of queer culture just out-and-about in this way.
So as we often say at F&BF – these things are complex. I certainly won’t be buying coke for my Muslim colleagues (much prouder that we hosted an interfaith iftar for over 60 people here at F&BF), or River Island merch for Pride (I’ll be wearing a homemade replica of the t-shirt Booan Temple wore when she stormed BBC news in protest of Section 28… naturally!). But maybe I’ll give it a like next time one of these ads comes up on my newsfeed…