This year’s Pride month was exceptionally jubilant.
It comes on the heels of Colorado electing the country’s first openly gay governor and the House’s passage of the historic Equality Act designed to protect LGBTQ+ identifying individuals from discrimination.
Cities across the nation immersed themselves in a branded visual culture of bright colors and inclusive imagery with the contributions of the LGBTQ community proudly displayed on banners, billboards, and even the offices of corporate America.
Many major companies also hosted events aimed at celebrating inclusiveness. But as brands wrap up their rainbow campaigns, the question remains — who is actually doing the necessary work to protect, defend and liberate queer communities beyond the month of June?
On Monday, author and poet Cleo Wade challenged those gathered at Marriott International’s #LoveTravels event, co-hosted by Immigration Equality and VideoOut, to think critically about corporate allyship and what brands we spend money with.
“You really have to look to support the organizations that don’t just believe in Pride Month but believe in pride lifetime,” Wade told ESSENCE.
The midtown Manhattan event celebrated the announcement of Marriott’s $100,000 donation to Immigration Equality, a grassroots organization dedicated to LGBTQ and HIV-positive immigrants. The partnership between the international hotel chain and the New York-based non-profit started in 2012 and stands as an example of how some companies celebrate Pride year-round and with direct action.
“World Pride NYC is at an historic crossroads for all LGBTQ communities,” Brian King, Marriott’s Global Officer, said in a statement. “What better way for Marriott to highlight our dedication to diversity, inclusion and social good, than by advancing the mission of Immigration Equality?”
Immigration Equality has helped to gain asylum for 1,200 LGBTQ and HIV-positive immigrants since its inception in 1994. The organization maintains a 99 percent success rate.
“Our longstanding partnership with Marriott International helps us make a meaningful difference in the lives of LGBTQ and HIV-positive immigrants,” the groups Executive Director Aaron Morris said in a statement. “With this generous commitment, we can expand our life-saving work on behalf of hundreds of people each year seeking safe haven from violence based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV-status.”
As June turns to July, Marriott represents why investment is key. While many companies have used their Pride campaigns to show awareness and acceptance, few have taken steps to directly invest time and money into grassroots organizing.