Feeling meh about marketing for pride

Today in capitalism, I’m feeling meh about the commodification of queer identity. Most recent object of analysis: This Mic article about Levi’s 2016 Pride Line.

The line, which does at least give a portion of profits to Harvey Milk Foundation, goes for queer dude denim looks and comes accessorized with colored bandanas a la queer and kink signaling systems from days of yore. The idea is that the color and positioning of the bandana corresponds to a sexual identity/preference and were a way for pre-tinder queers to get down. Which is a neat bit of history, but Levi’s why do you have to go around profiting from it?

“It may sound odd to be getting this from a simple hanky from a corporate clothing retailer like Levi’s,” reads the article. It alas does not sound odd, because identity based marketing is literally the foundation of contemporary commodity capitalism, which has a proven and miraculous ability to commodify resistant cultures. Example: those Che Guevara shirts stoners wear.

Then of course, the garment industry has a notoriously shitty relationship to labor rights Here are some questions we should always be asking companies, and especially companies that seek to capitalize on progressive ideals and subcultural styles: Where is your stuff produced? Are your workers, including overseas workers, getting compensated adequately? Are their working conditions good? Are the workers employed in your stores compensated adequately and are their working conditions good?

Queerness is a window to a new world, a rainbow hammer with which we can smash the detritus of an old society characterized by hierarchy and hate and arrive instead at a new day where the right to love is accompanied by liberation for all. Cue the Village People. But this whole liberation thing is only gonna happen if our queer politics are based on a critique of capitalism, which includes being critical of the commodification of queerness called “pink-washing” at play here. I think we can all donate to causes that help queer youth, be sex-positive, remember our culture, and dress funky without the help of Levi’s.

Actually, forget pink: On pride, let’s paint the town red.

Reina Gattuso is passionate about empowering conversations around queerness, sexual ethics, and social movements with equal parts rhapsody and sass. Her writing has appeared at Time, Bitch, attn:, and The Washington Post. She is currently pursuing her masters.

Reina Gattuso writes about her sex life for the good of human kind.

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