The infamous Straight Pride Parade scheduled for August 31st in Boston has been widely acknowledged as many things — a joke, a parade for America’s “most brutally repressed identity” according to Milo Yiannopoulos and an embarrassing stain on Boston’s government. Despite its ostensible unpopularity, the parade has had its permit approved by the city and is set to happen.
While this may seem like a blow to many LGBTQ activists, all is not yet lost. Super Happy Fun America, the group organizing Straight Pride, recently put a list of potential corporate sponsors on their website, inciting massive backlash and a series of cease-and-desist letters. The “potential sponsors” include, but are not limited to, Netflix, YouTube, Twitter, Amazon, Facebook, Starbucks, Pepsi, and more.
The list quickly caught the attention of corporate public relations teams, and it was not necessarily met with acceptance. In a post titled “Lyft Hates the Straights” Super Happy Fun America called Lyft a “heterophobic global corporation” in response to the company’s request to “immediately remove the Lyft name, logo, and branding from your regrettable website.”
TripAdvisor yielded a more lighthearted response to their appearance in the list of potential sponsors. The company worked the names of many queer anthems into their letter to Super Happy Fun America, writing “There is nothing Vogue or acceptable about making false claims about others merely to support your own cause. If I Could Turn Back Time, I would tell you not to use our name in the first place.”
The Boston Straight Pride Parade organizers falsely suggested this week that Trip Advisor might be a sponsor for the event.
Trip Advisor just responded with this cease and desist letter, and it is something. pic.twitter.com/FnOVyYqxXx
— Liam Martin (@LiamWBZ) July 19, 2019
Netflix also took swift action in denouncing their affiliation, stating that the parade was more about hate than it is pride. The company called out the “gross and deeply hurtful… deceptive misinformation” the Straight Pride event is spreading. They continued, “Our legal department is here, it’s queer, and it’s telling you to steer clear.”
Super Happy Fun America responded, claiming “It appears that their legal department is staffed by gay supremacists who are so accustomed to privilege that our goal of equality for straights feels like oppression to them.”
JP Morgan Chase filed a fraudulent trademark violation against Super Happy Fun America, causing the company hosting the Straight Pride group’s website to take the site down. Since then the group has moved to a different host.
While responses are still rolling in from the companies listed in Super Happy Fun America’s “Prospective Corporate Sponsor” post, none have yet accepted the proposed position. It is unknown whether Super Happy Fun America expected any companies to agree to sponsor, or if the offer is meant purely as a publicity stunt.
The original post announcing the potential sponsors stated listed companies as “corporations with reputations for being both progressive and socially conscious, we are optimistic that they will become part of the team advancing our historic civil rights movement.” They continued, “Sponsoring our parade is one way for a company to show it is straight-friendly and safe to purchase its goods and services.”
This whole situation leads to an important question for queer consumers— are the companies who responded to the Straight Pride Parade speaking out in genuine allyship for the LGBTQ+ community, or are they only responding to save face?
To determine this it is important to look back at the records of the companies that have responded to Super Happy Fun America in relation to their support of the LGBTQ+ community. This year, Lyft updated their app to allow passengers the ability to set their pronouns, with an expanded list of including the addition of “They/Them/Theirs,” “Prefer not to say,” and “My pronoun isn’t listed.” Many riders have hailed this as a step in an inclusive direction, hailing Lyft for utilizing their pro-LGBT stance for positive change.
We support all expressions of gender identity and to demonstrate this we’ve added a range of optional pronouns to the app. Why? Because you shouldn’t be defined by ticking only one of two boxes. #TwoIsTooFew
— Lyft (@lyft) June 20, 2019
Netflix also seems to have followed through on its queer philosophies. In it’s “Where Are We on TV” 2018 report, GLAAD found that Netflix had “the highest number of LGBTQ+ characters on all streaming services,” surpassing streaming giants such as Hulu and Amazon Prime. The report also found that the Netflix show Bojack Horseman boasts one of the only two asexual characters GLAAD has ever counted. The streaming company has produced hit LGBTQ+ shows such as Queer Eye, Tales of the City, Sex Education, and more.
In terms of LGBTQ+ support, TripAdvisor has a blog in partnership with the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association providing up to 50 travel guides for LGBTQ+ friendly destinations.
All three of these organizations have been named a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality by the Human Rights Campaign this year.
While it is unclear if Straight Pride will be sponsored by any companies, the responses of the listed companies act as important measures of where their values and morals lie in today’s society.
Featured image: Lyft Pride Promotional Images