June is a season of joy, with rainbow flags, colorful merchandise and earnest, if cringey, corporate social media posts becoming ubiquitous in recent years to mark the advent of Pride month.

It’s a time for queer people to let loose and celebrate who we are.

The good news is that there’s almost certainly a Pride festival or event near you — even if you live in smaller Michigan communities like Keweenaw, Lowell or Vermontville. Despite GOP opposition, Grand Haven Pride is still going strong and new events are cropping up this year in Dowagiac, Wyandotte and South Haven.

But in the last few years, Pride celebrations and other LGBTQ+ events, especially drag queen story hours, have drawn violent threats, amid more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills being introduced this year, per the ACLU, which take away health care, allow discrimination and ban books.

So it’s deeply disappointing to see that for corporate America, Pride month has been a distinctly more muted affair this year, as the 2024 election looms with former President Donald Trump leading in many polls.

For corporate America, Pride month has been a distinctly more muted affair this year.

Last year, far-right activists threw a fit over pro-LGBTQ+ ad campaigns and products from companies including Bud Light, Target and Nike, instigating boycotts and even bomb threats.

“The goal is to make ‘pride’ toxic for brands. If they decide to shove this garbage in our face, they should know that they’ll pay a price. It won’t be worth whatever they think they’ll gain. First Bud Light and now Target. Our campaign is making progress. Let’s keep it going,” right-wing commentator Matt Walsh wrote on X in 2023.

These activists are just a loud (and sometimes heavily armed) minority — much like the COVID conspiracy theorists who flooded the Michigan Capitol in spring 2020 to protest basic health measures, even as morgues were overflowing and vaccines weren’t developed.

After all, LGBTQ+ rights remain very popular with the public, with support for same-sex marriage remaining at a 71% high, per Gallup, the same as it was in 2022.

But corporate executives aren’t typically known as profiles in courage. And so many companies have scaled back their social media posts and ads for Pride month. Target timidly announced this spring that its Pride collection will only be in “select” stores and the retailer cut its apparel for kids.

It may seem like a small thing, but for a gay, trans or non-binary kid, seeing clothing at the big-box store everyone shops at that reflects who they are — and celebrates it — sends a powerful message of acceptance.

Related Photo Essay: Drag Story Hour Showdown in Ohio

We know that LGBTQ+ kids are often subjected to bullying from their peers and violence at home. The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, with one in five transgender and nonbinary youth attempted suicide. LGBTQ youth of color reported higher rates than their white peers.

One of the most powerful things I ever saw at a Pride rally was in 2019 when LGBTQ+ kids were invited up to the Capitol steps — and there wasn’t enough room for everyone to stand as the crowd cheered.

No one was laughing at them or telling them that they were immoral, delusional or going to hell. It was just a beautiful moment where hundreds of kids felt like they could be themselves. They felt like they belonged.

But the far-right’s sweeping assault on the LGBTQ+ community has the end goal of shoving everyone back in the closet. Some leaders have gone so far as to openly call for trans people to be eradicated.

It’s disgusting that corporations would kowtow to such extremists.

This retrenchment comes after the last couple of decades were marked by an influx of companies adopting Pride month branding and embracing their LGBTQ+ customers — which was just good business, as the community’s spending power is estimated at a whopping $1.4 trillion annually.

And after the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage the law of the land in 2015, it seemed to many, including me, that we were at a turning point and anti-gay bigotry was becoming fringe. That was the bet that many businesses made, as well.

But Trump’s election a year later ushered in an era where more and more people felt comfortable expressing blatant racism, misogyny and homophobia — and enshrining that into law.

A lot of CEOs tried to have it both ways. They desperately wanted Trump’s tax cuts for the rich and corporations, as well as his anti-regulation and anti-labor policies. But they still really wanted those sweet dollars from the LGBTQ+ community, so they dutifully switched over to rainbow logos in June and donated to Pride events.

The far-right’s sweeping assault on the LGBTQ+ community has the end goal of shoving everyone back in the closet.

In Michigan, many business groups publicly endorsed expanding the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to LGBTQ+ people, while still donating heavily to majority Republicans steadfastly opposed to it. The message was clear: Basic rights are nice, but tax cuts are a necessity. And so, it wasn’t until Democrats took over the Legislature for the first time in four decades that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was able to sign the bill into law.

But as the far-right has taken over the GOP and grown more militant, it’s become increasingly hard for companies to maintain a commitment to LGBTQ+ equality and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives. And even though some have criticized businesses for “pinkwashing,” it’s hard to argue that having Fortune 500 companies embrace LGBTQ+ rights didn’t imbue some legitimacy to the movement in the eyes of more traditional folks.

It’s also clear that we can’t count on corporations to save us.

Trump is busy amassing donations from Silicon Valley titans and is scheduled to do a closed-door meeting this week with Business Roundtable bigwigs — an invite that came after he was found guilty of 34 felonies in a New York court (and of course, being impeached (a second time) for instigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot to overturn the 2020 election).

Nobody can feign ignorance. Trump hasn’t been shy about his agenda for a second term. We know that LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, women and people of color will be second-class citizens.

Apparently, that’s a risk many corporate leaders seem willing to take.

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