Authentic Allyship: Moving Beyond the Parade and Understanding Rainbow Washing

CoachHub · 13 June 2023 · 7 min read

The story behind Pride Month goes way back to 1969. At the time, members of the LGBTQ community at Stonewall, New York City, rallied themselves in one voice to speak against police harassment and discrimination. This uprising didn’t just serve as a pivotal point in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, but it strongly became a catalyst for the following advocacy and activism.

For this reason, June is set aside globally to create awareness, advocate for rights and foster oneness within and outside the community. What’s more, Pride Month provides an empowering and supportive space for individuals in the community to gather and celebrate their identities and nurture a sense of belonging.

Rainbow washing is a word that emanated from the early 2000s. However, while the origin remains unclear, the term became prominent as a growing trend for companies and businesses in the latter years that followed. On seeing the traffic that the LGBTQ+ community was generating, people in business decided to milk that opportunity to grow their brands.

As a matter of fact, to this day, rainbow washing continues to be a sham by business personnel to give their products the recognition and create the awareness that they desire.

What is Rainbow Washing?

Rainbow washing, or rainbow capitalism, as several people call it, refers to a practice that companies adopt to market their products or services. It involves using messages, symbols, logos, and other means linked to the LGBTQ+ community to get attention.

To cut it short, the people adopting this marketing are neither interested in what goes on in the community nor supporting the members’ members rights. It’sIt’s simply a means of exploitation to use the community’s visibility for self-gain.

In return, the marketers get the attention of queer people and the larger masses. Let’s say some people don’t take this lightly, and this leads to some of the harmful effects of Rainbow washing.

The harmful effects of Rainbow Washing

In the initial phase, a company’s Rainbow washing marketing tactics can appear harmless. However, it doesn’t take too long before the harmful effects kick in causing breakdown of sales.

And so, it’s necessary as a marketer to know a couple of the harmful effects and desist from the practice. A few are:

It undermines activism

Rainbow washing can redirect attention and resources away from legitimate LGBTQ+ activism and organizations. It may give the impression that businesses made an advancement by actively supporting the community when in all honesty, they took little or no significant action at all. This can sway LGBTQ+ activists from working to ensure equality and positive change.

It encourages stereotypes

It also encourages stereotypes and several notions of the community’s identity. This makes it rather difficult to capture the complexity and diversity that the company portrays. Instead, rainbow washing makes it appear like the community has just one face to it.

It builds distrust

It’s only fair that a company would lose customers under the guise of a false image or initiative. For companies pretending to engage in performative acts without rendering support to the LGBTQ+ community, lack of trust and skepticism rules the day. This can impede progress toward genuine inclusion and support for the LGBTQ+ community.

It encourages exploitation and tokenism

Rainbow washing objectifies the LGBTQ+ community as a marketing opportunity or token without putting the experiences and struggles of the members of the community into consideration. This isn’t only insensitive, but the fact that it exploits the community’s visibility can be tagged as identity theft. The fact that the company engaging in the practice does not intend to support the rights of the individuals that make up the community speaks ill of such a company. This creates a bad image.

rainbow washing

How to be an Authentic LGBTQ+ Ally

The LGBTQ+ is a multi-dimensional and diverse community comprising individuals identifying as gay, transgender, bisexual, lesbian, queer, etc. The community has long played a role in the fight for social acceptance and equality via several mediums. This includes social media awareness, peaceful protests, seminars, and others. While the fight and struggles continue, the community has come a long way in achieving its goals.

A few of the ways that the LGBTQ+ community has helped allies to foster inclusivity is by enlightening the masses on the wide spectrum of gender identities and sexual orientations. Even though this diversity goes against traditional binary concepts, they urge allies to challenge the concept and embrace diverse human experiences.

As the day passes, the LGBTQ+ community faces several issues with major legal, social, and personal implications. One of the major issues that the community faces is discrimination and legal inequality.

As a matter of fact, members can only be discriminated against in public schools and workplaces because legal inequality and lack of comprehensive protections leave them vulnerable to mistreatment and prejudice.

There is also the issue of violence, cyberbullying, and hate crimes redirected at the members of the LGBTQ+ community. The stress and tension that violence causes lead to several mental health challenges, not to mention the need for recognition and legal protection of same-sex marriages in all various jurisdictions.

As an ally that wishes to pursue and preach about inclusivity and equality values, it’s necessary to listen and amplify the voices behind the affairs of the LGBTQ+ community as much as one is capable. This is quite important, considering how most nonallies have silenced the voices of LGBTQ+ activists in the past. It’s necessary to help the community advance, challenge stereotypes and nurture empathy among one another.

One of the various ways is by creating a platform for members to share experiences and stories. This helps aid everyone to have a proper understanding of challenges and create a proper solution. Furthermore, there is still the problem of underrepresented voices within the community.

Individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds still face the issue of systemic marginalization. And so, they require a particular approach in the form of support and platforms to eliminate the systemic barriers surrounding them.

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Supporting LGBTQ+ organizations and businesses

Supporting LGBTQ+ organizations and businesses is crucial in fostering a more inclusive and equitable society. By directing our resources, patronage, and donations towards these entities, we can contribute to the advancement of LGBTQ+ rights, support vital community services, and amplify marginalized voices. By supporting LGBTQ+ organizations and businesses. This helps create safe spaces, advocate for policy change, provide essential services, and promote economic empowerment within the community.

Taking action against discrimination and inequality is essential for creating a more just and inclusive society. By taking action one challenges personal prejudices, systemic biases and advocates for equal rights for all. This is one of the reasons it’s necessary to listen to marginalized voices on the issue.


The Importance of Authenticity

Authenticity is one of the foundations overseeing the relationship between allies and the LGBTQ+ community. It builds trust between the two parties, depicting transparency from the allies’ end. One can easily spot the decent qualities that allies possess through the way they advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and how they fight stereotypes within society.

Truly the efforts to grow, learn, and acknowledge one’s biases aren’t easy. However, it’s the effort that makes an ally authentic and worthy of recognition. In the long run, they tend to become committed with a sense of urgency to create a long-lasting societal change.

authentic allyship

The Benefits of Being an Authentic Ally

An authentic ally offers numerous benefits to themselves and the community they support. Aside from the fact that they foster inclusivity by creating environments where community individuals are heard and respected, they also build a certain level of trust between individuals in the community and several other allies in the society. Also, by learning and engaging in history, experiences and education about the LGBTQ+ community, authentic allies stand out as better-informed advocates loaded with the knowledge to challenge discrimination.

However, that’s not all. The fact that authentic allies become well-informed broadens their views, making them see things from various perspectives. This plunges them to the position where they can make a meaningful impact capable of positively affecting the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals.


In conclusion, one can only continue to seek out diverse perspectives to understand and foster empathy for the members of the LGBTQ+ community. This demands financial resources, patience and a certain level of understanding. However, the perseverance to see things through is what makes one an ally.

That said, it’s necessary as an ally to look beyond Pride Month. Take time to study history, experiences, and several vital info about the LGBTQ+ community by meeting LGBTQ+ organizations or individuals for a recap on everything that transpired in the past years.

Remember, being an ally is not just a label but a continuous effort to uplift and support marginalized voices. Let us embrace the power of listening, amplifying, and taking action to create a world where LGBTQ+ individuals can live authentically, with dignity, and free from discrimination.

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Samuel Olawole
Samuel Olawole is a freelance copywriter and content writer who specializes in creating exciting content across a wide range of topics and industries. When he’s not writing, you can find him traveling or listening to good music.

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