We Owe It to Marsha: Avoiding Rainbow Capitalism During Pride Month

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by Lucia Burton

June! Pride month! While June is a time for us to celebrate our identities and experiences, I cannot give this list of organizations to donate to without acknowledging the state that our country is in, and the racial significance that comes with Pride. The entire reason that June is Pride month is because of the Stonewall Riots, and the entire reason that the Stonewall Riots took place was because of the bravery of Marsha P. Johnson, a Black trans woman who started it all. The “P” in Johnson’s name stood for “pay it no mind.” We, the queer community, owe it to her and others who shouldered the beginnings of the Pride movement, one that is still very much alive today because of her legacy.

During June, many enormous corporations and name-brand companies churn out billions of dollars worth of rainbow-sprinkled merchandise to market to the LGBTQ+ community; however, the huge capital they earn from it goes straight back into their heteronormative, capitalist, whitewashed, patriarchal pockets instead of going to queer organizations or coalitions. This is rainbow capitalism: such corporations are profiting off the backs of the queer community as they gain their income off the marginalization of them, with none of the earnings going towards any organizations who are doing the hard work of creating support networks, resources, and community for queer people. Such massive revenue wouldn’t be possible if such toxic, deadly, and rampant ostracization, hate, and prejudice did not exist in the first place. They are appropriating an LGBTQ+ symbol for their own benefit, using it as a means to increase their own street cred and dollars.

In order to avoid supporting these companies, here is a list of alternative, local entities that are piloted by queer people for queer people. Put your money where your mouth is. Walk the walk. Show up. We owe it to Marsha.

Editor’s note: This is by no means the ONLY organizations that should be donated to. This is a small sampling of organizations. Tag any and all orgs in the comments that should also be recognized.

Kentucky Black Pride

A statewide organization, Kentucky Black Pride centers the lived experiences of queer, back people — necessitating their place in the common discourse of race, gender, and sexuality. With a chapter based in Louisville, the mission of Kentucky Black Pride is to “educate, provide outreach services, and organize a Pride event for the LGBTQ community of color.” The importance, belonging, and need of organizations such as Kentucky Black Pride cannot be stated enough, now and always. To donate, email kentuckyblackpride@yahoo.com.

Sis Got Tea

Sis Got Tea, a black-owned, LGBTQ-owned, woman-owned tea shop in Louisville, is one of the first sober queer spaces in the city. Founded by Louisville local Arielle Clark, Sis Got Tea is a radical space that not only offers gourmet tea — it also serves as a space for learning, listening, meeting, working, and resting. While it is a tea shop, it also holds community events (that are specifically Black-focused and LGBTQ+-focused), and offers its space up for group rental as well. While Sis Got Tea is not yet a brick-and-mortar location, when it does open, it would be the first sober LGBTQ+ space in Louisville. To donate, click here.

Louisville Youth Group

Started in 1990, Louisville Youth Group (LYG) is an organization that centers its effort around queer youth in Kentucky. Its programming and mission revolve around three pillars: safety (providing a safe physical space for LGBTQ+ youth to socialize with others in the community), growth (programming that is designed to increase interpersonal skills, emotional awareness and intelligence, and leadership skills), and activism (education on the various forms that activism can take and its importance in the community). To donate, click here.

Kentuckiana AIDS Alliance

The Kentuckiana AIDS Alliance is a unique group of “advocates and providers” who have joined together to use their power and knowledge to assist those affected with AIDS. They are able to help thousands through offering housing assistance; adult life skills workshops; children’s programs; free legal services; funding for patient healthcare, dental care, and eye care; case management services; support groups and fitness programs; sexual health screening; and basic food, toiletries, and necessities. They are able to do so through public donations, and will only be able to continue these life-changing services through your support. To donate, click here.

AVOL Kentucky

Basing its efforts in Lexington, AVOL (AIDS Volunteers of Lexington) offers services such as housing and financial assistance, case management, health screenings, and general support to families in Central and Eastern Kentucky. Through these efforts, they hope to achieve five main goals by 2023: increase the number of people who live with HIV to be aware of their diagnosis and health status; decrease the number of new HIV infections; increase the accessibility and maintenance of medical care for those affected with HIV; increase the number of people who have reached viral suppression of AIDS; and work to eliminate health disparities and the stigma that comes along with HIV. To donate, click here.

Louisville Pride Foundation

At the center of Louisville Pride Foundation’s work is collaboration, empowerment, and celebration. Through a strong response to COVID-19, they have sustained their community through virtual drag shows, online weekly community conversations, and a video-streamed queer game night. Under normal conditions, they would be the driving force of the annual Louisville Pride Festival in June; however, due to present conditions, they are adapting and fostering community to the best of their ability. To donate, click here.

Big Sandy LGBT+ Safe Zone

A huge problem facing the queer community is inadequate representation and resources for those in non-urban areas. Historically, extreme prejudice, systemic violence, and isolation have plagued rural queer folks for years. Based in Pikeville, Kentucky, Big Sandy LGBT+ Safe Zone is an organization that is at the center of this struggle, providing support, resources, and connection to Appalachian queer folks. To donate, email bigsandysafezone@gmail.com.

PFLAG of Central Kentucky

While the majority of LGBTQ+ organizations exist as a direct action resource for queer individuals, PFLAG of Central Kentucky is a support group specifically for parents, families, and friends of those who are a member of the queer community. Governed and led by other LGBTQ people, it is a great resource for those who are ready to learn how to be an effective, educated, loving ally to the queer community. The end result is a world where a marginalized community feels safe and inclusive. According to PFLAG, research has shown that LGBTQ+ youth who have strong support networks and have better mental health and physical health than those without. To donate, click here.

Louisville Trans Men

Louisville Trans Men was founded as an effort to honor, recognize, and focus on the unique lived experience of trans men. The group is open to those who identify as trans men, FTM, transmasculine, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, masculine of center, or questioning. The organization provides insight and support in navigating what can be intimidating barriers to inclusion, such as legal recognition of one’s identity. They teach trans and GNC communities how to legally execute a name change on legal & government documents, update your name on property documents, how to find an affirming healthcare provider, and create community networks of support. To donate, click here.

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