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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Local businesses show support for Pride Month amidst recent backlash experienced by big companies

108 Vine, First Magnitude Brewing Co. and Studio T/M host events throughout June in their support toward the queer community

After weeks of multinational corporations cutting back on pride representation due to backlash, Gainesville’s local businesses are stepping up in their place.

At the beginning of May, Target released its 2023 Pride collection in anticipation of Pride Month. Due to backlash, threats and protests of the different products included in the collection, Target decided to remove some of the collection items from displays and relocate displays to less trafficked areas of the store in select locations.

“Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior,”  read a Target statement. “Our focus now is on moving forward with our continuing commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community and standing with them as we celebrate Pride Month and throughout the year.”

UF LGBTQ students expressed their disappointment toward larger businesses and their inauthentic support, sometimes referred to as rainbow capitalism.  

Alex Owens, a 19-year-old UF biochemistry junior and member of the LGBTQ community, criticized the practice. 

Big corporations producing occasional pride merchandise aren't doing enough, Owens said.

“I don’t really think that these companies actually care that much about our community,” Owens said. “I think they could be doing a lot more good if they focused more on outreach or if they focused a little bit more on financially supporting the community rather than just marketing clothing.” 

“[Target is] committed to helping our guests, team members and communities observe Pride wherever and however they choose — from partnerships supporting LGBTQIA+ efforts to sharing stories of self-discovery” according to Target’s diversity, equality and inclusion mission statement.

“I think it’s really telling how they are willing to immediately abandon their support when there’s even the littlest bit of controversy,” Owens said.

For Owens, support comes from local businesses and markets that create a safe environment for queer community members to attend and participate instead. Larger companies should sponsor local LGBTQ businesses yearround, they said.

Due to the seasonal nature of some businesses’ support, some UF students believe their efforts are insincere.

Fabiana Gonzalez, a 20-year-old UF environmental engineering junior, said they are disappointed companies like Target only seem to support the queer community when it’s financially convenient.

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“I personally believe that they are not doing enough. I feel like just putting out a T-shirt and sticking a rainbow on it doesn’t have the intrinsic value of supporting [the community],” Gonzalez said. 

Companies are able to support the community with their dollar, Gonzalez added, and without doing so, businesses’ efforts can feel hollow.

Despite the recent backlash, Gainesville locals are showing up and finding ways to support their LGBTQ community. Local businesses are coming together and working with the Pride Community Center of North Central Florida to organize and host queer-focused events such as drag shows, queer markets and pride parties. 

108 Vine is hosting a pride party on June 10 where they plan on providing a safe space for LGBTQ community members and allies alike to come together. 

It felt like an especially important time to support LGBTQ people in any way they could, said Bren Strickland, director of 108 Vine and Plantstay.

“This year seemed like a year to be extra loud and show support and love for the LGBTQ+ community,” Strickland said. “We are donating 10% of the sales, and there is a minimum amount that I’ll give and contribute to the Pride Center of North Central Florida.” 

First Magnitude Brewing Co. is working closely with the Pride Community Center and organizing queer events throughout the month of June, such as pride trivia, drag bingo and a pride party that will include a drag show after 7 p.m. for 18+ attendees.

Studio T/M, an LGBTQ-owned ceramics studio, is celebrating Pride Month by hosting their Sip and Spin events with a rainbow twist.  The business is doing a Pride Swag Night June 24 and 30, where the best Pride outfit wins a handmade rainbow mug. 

Pride Community Center of North Central Florida has posted a month-long schedule of different pride events being hosted by local businesses and plans on providing a safe and fun environment for everyone to enjoy. 

Contact Emma at Follow her on Twitter @emmaparkerG.

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Emma Parker

Emma Parker is a first-year journalism student. She is the metro desk news assistant. When she is not writing, she is reading a book or listening to Indie music.

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