Color Me Unsurprised When Corporate Campaigns for Pride Month Leave a Bad Taste in the Rainbow

(AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

Burger King may have taken the checkered flag for worst Pride Month corporate signaling this year.

It’s become an annual tradition in this country that the month of June will deliver an avalanche of corporate efforts to appear properly activist as they pay heed to this being Pride Month. Companies are rebranding with multi-hued logos, releasing specific products adorned in rainbow patterns, or delivering boilerplate messaging declaring the novelty of including everyone in their services.


Now, being the touchy subject that this can be, I need to declare I have no personal issue and take no offense to companies making these gestures this month. It really does not impact nor influence me. But to also be honest, some of the genuflecting and pandering gets downright ridiculous, and some of the efforts are rather amusing.

Another annual tradition is seeking out which moves made on behalf of displaying woke pride come off as lunk-headed and ill-conceived. There is no shortage of displays that must have sounded good in the boardroom but end up leaving a Crayola Box stain, instead. You need to highlight and laugh at these misbegotten attempts.

Sure, a company like Purina probably wants to let it be known they accept LGBTπ employees, customers, and business partners, but the effect may also be that they support gay pets. There was the British grocery chain that released a special Lettuce, Guacamole, Bacon, and Tomato club in a rainbow box – it was their LGBT sandwich, you see. Then we saw Chipotle come out with its ‘’Burritos or Tacos’’ attempt, which reduced things to the infantile with all the attached food euphemisms.

This year, there were notable launches on June 1. The US Marine Corps came out (literally) with its display for the holiday. Many people took offense, but did so for the wrong reasons. Some pointed out the problematic history of gays in the military, while others were noting the offense of displaying bullets painted in the rainbow colors. The real issue however is how this flies in direct opposition to the standards of the corps. Soldiers are molded to be a cohesive team, operating as a unit. Pointing out and segregating one subgroup like this runs contrary to that very concept.


But the Marines have to be happy that Burger King stepped up and deflected attention onto their company. In Austria, the burger chain came up with what they felt was a novel and supportive move by offering up the Pride Whopper. It is your basic signature hamburger, but comes with the choice of going with matching buns as the alternative.

Now, when it comes to matters with gay issues, maybe it is best to just steer clear of anything involving buns. Yes, we get the intent here, by having matching bread as a reflection of gay relationships. But in going for the same-seed marriage on the burger did no one understand this would lead to people noting and declaring that they preferred to be a top or a bottom?!

Other companies are coming under fire for different reasons, those being more innocent in nature. While the natural move is to come out with the appropriate rainbow logo conversion, seemingly a nice gesture of support for the LGBTπ communities, it too has led to a challenge. It’s worth noting that while many of these companies have international exposure, they do not go to the length of altering their trademarks in countries where gay lifestyles are not permitted.


Even a company doing everything correctly this month can face reprisals, leading to questioning the wisdom of doing so. At Amazon, they have long been in support. An internal group of gay employees years ago began a group dubbed Glamazon that was established as a support system within the company. One might think this would show how the company backs them, but recently a group of staffers staged a die-in outside the corporate headquarters. Their issue? That the company sells books about the trans community which they disagree with as a group.

At the gaming software company Electronic Arts, they faced an employee protest and walkout over the corporate logo going rainbow – but the anger flowed in the opposite direction. The company has long been in support of the LGBTπ community, but recent internal documents had employees angered that the company appeared to be making shallow comments which were not genuinely supportive, and they were displeased with EA showing its corporate activism.

They declared the company was making gestures that were self-serving, and this led to a rather curious conclusion that avoided the protest.

Though the walkout seemed all but imminent, an EA employee later informed that the event had been called off, reportedly due to EA leadership promising not to use a rainbow flag variant of its corporate logos for Pride month.

This would almost seem like a loophole has been found by Electronic Arts that other companies could emulate. Give insufficient corporate language of support and your employees can demand that you not partake in Pride Month as a company. It is also an insulation, because this way if any group complains, a CEO can explain that they are doing so at the behest of their LGBTπ workers.



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