When it comes to brands cashing in on Pride Month, everyone remembers the infamous M&S LGBT sandwich from 2019. Putting aside the fact that there wasn't even a vegan option (queerphobic!), it always seems a little random when corporations take innocuous household items and try to turn them lesbian / gay / bisexual / trans. Especially when that corporation spends the rest of the year aggressively targeting heterosexuals in the home counties.
These days, brands are a little more sensitive to accusations of “rainbow-washing.” The era of launching a Pride tie-in without donating to an LGBTQ charity is long gone. That's progress, but it doesn't mean they've mastered the art of corporate allyship, or that it's anywhere near enough. In 2019, M&S donated £10,000 to AKT, the UK’s LGBTQ youth homelessness charity. That year, they also made over £10 million in revenue. The “just put a rainbow on it!” phenomenon – where brands dress up a regular product in Pride flag colours for the month of June – is still rife. And if you're waiting corporations to call out the government for failing to include trans people in their proposed conversion therapy ban, or to actively support LGBTQ communities during any month other than this one, well, good luck with that. Still, we don't mean to be too cynical: Even half-arsed tie-ins can help cash-strapped charities and play a part in improving LGBTQ visibility. If a sad rainbow flag hung in a Pizza Express window puts one homophobe off his Pollo ad Astra, it's served a purpose.With this in mind, here's a guide to this year's Pride tie-ins: from the “OK, fine!” to the “I think I’ll just be straight now, actually”.
According to Lynx, this body spray is “for everyone who wants to find their magic, regardless of gender” which sounds nice. It's been created in partnership with Switchboard, a fantastic charity that's been helping the LGBTQ community since 1974, so I'm prepared to forgive the classic “stick a rainbow on it!” packaging. Plus, Lynx Africa is the definitive smell of straight teenage boys everywhere, so it's about time it got a big queer cousin.Sadly, Lynx missed a trick by failing to lace its “refined fragrance of honeydew melon and sandalwood” with a properly gay top note like poppers, for example.
7. Lynx Pride Body Spray
Pret are constantly running out of ice, which is borderline homophobic during Pride month. But I'm going to give the sandwich kings credit for resisting the urge to peddle anything bizarre like a “rainbow mushroom soup”. Instead, they've spent Pride Month blasting out their Pride A Manger (yes, really) playlist, featuring songs from the likes of MNEK, Spice Girls, Alphabeat and RuPaul. I mean, there’s not a lot tying these songs together other than “sounds gay” but I’m not complaining.
6. Pret's Pride Month playlist
Postmates, a US-based food delivery app owned by Uber, marked Pride Month by launching a “bottoming-friendly menu” in L.A. and New York. The accompanying Instagram ad features an aubergine in a leather harness – gay rights! – and an anthropomorphic peach being chastised for diving into a bowl of baked beans (That’s Postmates’ chaotic way of reminding us that legumes are usually off the menu on “fill-my-hole” night.)
5. Postmates' bottoming menu
According to the ad, white rice and fish is a great choice before being railed because it “digests easily and slowly while feeding your good gut bacteria” which is great to know! Still, just because Postmates are acknowledging that gay people can take a dick too doesn’t mean we’re willing to overlook Uber’s long history of inethical practices and allegations of discrimination and harrassment.
4. Vaseline’s Pride Lip Balm
Vaseline also gets credit for teaming up with Switchboard, but they did miss a trick by not just releasing their own Pride lube. In fact, Pride lip balm is not a good substitute for lube at all – petroleum jelly is oil-based, which means it can cause latex condoms to break down. Imagine releasing a Pride product that actively destroys condoms? Rude! It's also literally the same as their regular lip balm, but more expensive and in a rainbow tin. There's not even any glitter in it. Next!
Yes, Disney gays exist and yes, they deserve merch too. But there’s no getting around these absolute monstrosities. Also, everyone knows that Disney’s ultimate queer icon is Ursula the Sea Witch – a character based on John Waters’ Divine – and she’s nowhere to be seen. Put her on a tank top, you cowards!
3. George at Asda’s Disney-themed Pride merch
IDK about this. The shorts are cool, but can you really get away with slapping “love is love” on a T-shirt when, in 2020, you were accused of paying workers in Pakistan just 29p an hour? And let's not overlook the fact that while Boohoo reported a total group sales of £1.98bn in 2022, they're only donating 10 percent of the proceeds of this Pride collection to LGBTQ charity Outright. At the moment, boohooMAN is a bit like your uncle who says he “doesn’t mind gays” but still winces during the bumsex scene in It's a Sin.
2. boohooMAN's Pride collection
First of all, no jokes about wanting to nosh on a Whopper, please. Second of all, what does “time to be proud” even mean? Third of all, why are we being told we can order two “top” buns or two “bottom” buns? Do they know what those terms refer to? Brands, take note: This is why you need queers on your marketing team.The Pride Whopper has already caused so many eye rolls that the agency behind it has apologised. Honest to God, I would have preferred a weird rainbow burger patty or something, or at least some multicoloured fries. Anyway, remember folks… time to be proud!@mrnicklevine