As I write this, the calendar pages are fluttering from May to June, and as always, I face Pride Month with a mixture of joy and trepidation – but this year is different. Instead of worrying whether we will be inundated with empty rainbow capitalism, which is the exploitation of LGBTQIA+ pride for the sake of profit instead of genuine allyship, I fear crickets. Neither rainbow capitalism nor silence helps our cause, but the latter is decidedly worse.
Target and AB InBev (the parent company of Bud Light) set a terrible example last month when both immediately caved to pressure from anti-LGBTQIA+ extremists to, respectively, pull their Pride-themed merchandise and renounce support for a transgender influencer. These craven responses further embolden a fringe minority that has already enjoyed unprecedented gains in the last year. For those not keeping score, nearly 500 different bills targeting the queer community have been brought before state legislatures since the beginning of the year. You can see the full list on ACLU.org as well as read more about the 30+ that have already become law on lgbtqnation.com. Most of these bills specifically target transgender people: prohibiting long-established methods for gender-affirming care for kids and adults, silencing educators and students, blocking access to gender-aligned bathrooms, and implementing “drag bans” that effectively remove trans participation in any sort of public event or presentation. Major news outlets have taken a “both sides” approach to reporting on trans issues. As is so often the case in the culture wars, the dollar wins; sales and subscribership matter more than the lives of the people affected by these laws.
By all measurable accounts, the LGBTQIA+ community is losing traction and we cannot rely on corporate America to normalize queer acceptance. We must stand our ground for not only gender equality and individual autonomy but also queer acceptance and trans rights – not just in June but in every month. NACLIQ will not be silent, neither should you.
What can you do?
- Stay informed. Start reading queer news.You would be amazed by what doesn’t get reported by mainstream media. Them, The Advocate, The Movement Advancement Project, and the ACLU are good places to start. Share what you learn.
- Speak up loudly and frequently. Corporations are going silent, so it’s up to all of us as individuals to not only show full-throated and unwavering support for the LGBTQIA+ community, but to sound the alarm about the devastation these laws are wreaking on queer people and their families.
- Donate. Trans people are fleeing states like Florida, Texas, and Missouri right now, and many cannot afford the move and will have great difficulty recovering from the disruption in their lives. Here is a list of organizations in every state helping trans people survive the onslaught of hateful legislation and helping them get resettled when they need to flee. You can also donate to NACLIQ. You will be helping us provide advocacy, education, and support within the lighting industry, and anything we receive beyond our operating costs will go to the aforementioned organizations.
What is NACLIQ?
NACLIQ is the North American Coalition of Lighting Industry Queers. I started it nearly three years ago as a gathering place for mutual support and networking. As the wave of anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiment and hateful legislation began to grow, our mission shifted toward strident advocacy and activism. We have chapters in New England, the Pacific Northwest, the Virginia Tidewater area, Dallas, Los Angeles, and New York City. NACLIQ is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit. If you would like to learn more about us, or you want to help out or start a chapter in your area, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alana Shepherd (she/her)
Principal, Intangible Light
Founder and Executive Co-Chair, NACLIQ