On rainbow-washing and pride
How to truly show up for our LGBTQ+ community this pride month, coming out to my mother, secrets of the uber wealthy, and a story of true friendship
|Steven Wakabayashi||Jun 11||1|
This week has been quite a whirlwind. It’s been the first full week in June when companies kicked their pride campaigns into full throttle.
A few of my LinkedIn posts gained tremendous traction on this topic. There are a lot of interesting discussions happening on there, including those who also agree on this fact… and those who are stuck on the details that prevent them from showing up for our LGBTQ+ community.
Unfortunately, this work is not on me or any LGBTQ+ individual to hold companies accountable. It is upon every individual corporate leader running these campaigns to do so themselves. For many folx, especially straight cis white men, this seemed to be an invitation to invite me to do more homework to honor their allyship. I was quite baffled to see how audacious these comments were and the high positions they hold.
Our collective liberation should never be attached to the way we present our ideas. Denouncing the commodification of our communities should not have to happen. Period. Our identity, our community, our flag... it is not up to negotiation by non-LGBTQ+ individuals.
This goes for so many other movements. For example, men having feedback (and legislation) on women’s bodies, non-Black folx defining Black liberation… this needs to end. Allyship means to (for a lack of a better term) shutting up our mouths, and opening up our ears and heats.
Although June is “pride month”, for our LGBTQ+ community, we cannot simply turn off our own rainbow logo right on July 1. We exist 365 days a year and show up every day - rain or shine.
The reality is, most companies simply disappear after July 1 in advocating for our LGBTQ+ communities. Worse, companies leverage their transactional allyship in July in lieu of supporting LGBTQ+ employees and communities all year long.
Each year, I see more and more companies holding onto their contributions to LGBTQ+ organizations until the month of June to stretch their PR. LGBTQ+ organizations have bills to pay and programming to run 11 other months of the year. While my organization is gaining traction and visibility this month, I reckon this will decline sharply after July 1st, when allyship has moved onto other issues.
Especially during pride month, this is the time to simply show up and listen to our LGBTQ+ community.
We never asked for a rainbow logo or swag - just the right to exist.
For allies, I leave you with this note:
Show up for us through your work honoring our community members. Step out of the spotlight and highlight our LGBTQ+ individuals and organizations. Create safe spaces for us to thrive in.
Unfortunately in many parts of the world, being LGBTQ+ is still criminalized and punishable by death. This is our reality. And this is why rainbow logos just don’t do it for us.
And for my LGBTQ+ friends - I see you. I love you. I honor your work and existence. Continue to shine your light brightly this month and celebrate your joy. 🌈
Happy June. Happy Pride.
Stop rainbow-washing and simply show up for our community. ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜
What I’m up to
For queer POC designers: Tuesday, June 16 - Design Jam
For queer Asians: Sunday, June 20 - Yellow Glitter Sparkes, Gaysian support group
For Asians: Sunday, June 27 - Asian American Healing Space
Finding love for those that struggle to see us
I wrote an article with INTO about my journey of finding love for my mother that struggles to see eye-to-eye with my queer identity. While writing this short essay, I cried for quite some time, releasing so many pent-up emotions that I had carried for so many years.
Love has been a constant struggle in my life - for myself and others. But in writing this, I was able to remind myself that love is still within. It just takes a bit of a reminder.
Secrets of the 0.001%
This article was a bombshell this week. ProPublica was able to gather financial documents of the wealthiest people in the world and revealed how they have been avoiding taxes almost entirely. Check out the rest of the articles in the series.
Finding distant friends
This short film on YouTube was quite a tear-jerker. A woman seeks out her childhood best friend after moving away from Japan. Absolutely beautiful.
As always, thanks for reading!
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Have a beautiful day!