Happy Pride Month, and congratulations you’re gay now! I hope you are ready for the novel Pride month we are about to have. I and the board are fresh off of our sabbatical for Mental Health Month, and we’re feeling…. Mostly invigorated? Refreshed, kind of?
May has been a weird month, and if you’ve been paying attention to the news at all you know it too. Florida is continuing their swift descent into a fully fascist state with Ron DeSatan at the helm, and other states like Texas, Tennessee, Montana, North Dakota, Alabama, North Carolina, (and others!) are following suit with hateful rhetoric and worse policy (largely – but not exclusively – focused around trans youth). The treatment of Zooey Zephyr in the Montana House of Representatives was fully appalling.
Drag continues to be scapegoated in the press in ways we’re all too familiar with, and Tucson is no exception. The Bridge “Church” shut down AZ Drag Story Hour events in April with their concerted misinformation & harassment campaign that put employees and attendees at risk at the end of April, and I’m certain that’s not the last we’ll see of them (the Bridge has been peddling their hate speech disguised as the word of God for many years now).
Businesses have also entered the chat rather publicly, as we saw with Bud Light’s performative ad campaign (after which they just abandoned Dylan Mulvaney). Target came under fire recently for pulling the queer & trans owned Ash & Chess merch line after coordinated, extremist anti-LGBTQ+ attacks. This seems to be the weird shadow-side of the rainbow washing we’ve all come to expect in June… The Dodgers pulled the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence from their Pride Night (and then re-invited them after backlash, but we can’t unsee what we saw).
This mostly all feels and looks like a hot pile of garbage, but it only *all* looks like that if you’re looking through a myopic lens. Businesses are ALSO showing up in the ways that we know are meaningful. The North Face told the “anti-woke” domestic terrorists like Lauren Boebert to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine (although, it was eloquent and encouraged actually being where the sun DOES shine, because North Face). Anheuser Busch’s stock dropped, but their competitor Molson Coors’ (historically a much better advocate for the LGBTQ+ community anyway, for decades) stock is up more than 19% in the last few months! Disney – AKA a bunch of attorneys with a theme park problem – is meticulously preparing to take Ron DeSantis (and hopefully all of the vitriol he stands for) down.
The really good stuff, as always, happens at the local level. Here in Tucson, local inclusive and safe space salon Craft Collective is picking up the Ash & Chess line later this month (in addition to art by local TGNC artist Sophie McTear). The Hop Shop is hosting Pride Prom this Saturday night, benefitting local org Building Out Safer Spaces as well as the Gaymber (eee! See you there!). The Pima County Board of Supervisors is declaring June officially pride month on 6/6 (go in support because you know the haters will be there, and it’ll be fun to make them mad).
In previous years, the Pima County BoS effort might have felt performative. This year of all years though, the LGBTQ+ community sees when businesses speak out in support of our community. Do we still follow the money to see how businesses are truly serving the LGBTQIA+ community? Yes absolutely. That’s why there was some lukewarm response to the Target thing but more effusive support for the North Face thing – they put their money where their mouth is. We’ll notice, too, if you made your logo rainbow last year but NOT this year. This is the year to decidedly not capitulate to right wing extremists and stand out – publicly – in support of the queers and TGNC folks you know and love (and the ones who work for and with you, and the ones who make up the incoming work force).
We the Gaymber stand for Economic Empowerment, Community, and Intersectionality. The fight continues, weirder and louder than ever, and we’ll be there for it all. I challenge you and everyone else reading this newsletter to consider: is your business doing enough? Can you challenge it to be better for the LGBTQ community? We believe standing up for us is the right thing to do, but if you need a little encouragement, a recent Human Rights Campaign poll showed that 64% of all likely voters think there is “too much legislation” aimed at “limiting the rights of transgender and gay people in America” — including 72% of Democrats, 65% of Independents, and 55% of Republicans [source].
That means this is the right side of history, y’all. We know it, and the sooner businesses keep using their voices and their capital to support it, the sooner we can all just live our happy little gay and trans lives, contributing to the economy, building community, and loving one another.
It’s going to be a busy month for us – we can’t wait to see you around, everywhere. Open arms, open hearts.
President – Tucson LGBT Chamber of Commerce
C: (520) 349-7333