+
Identity

Woman's viral thread is a moving reminder of when the first companies supported Pride

It wasn't so long ago that public support of Pride was a truly brave and life-affirming choice.

pride, corporate pride, lgbtqia branding

Pride has become overrun by brands, but it wasn't always the case.

Recently, I went with my family to Target, one of our favorite stores. We were only going for a couple of things, but our plans were derailed as soon as we walked in (which is often how it goes at that store). What caught our eyes this time? Target had already put up its Pride display. My partner and I excitedly searched through accessories like sunglasses and mini flags, looking specifically for items featuring the lesbian pride flag. I successfully grabbed an accessory bag plus a pair of rainbow sunglasses for my kiddo before eagerly heading over to the main display.

In recent years, the Target display for Pride has become one of my favorite parts about the month of June. As a queer woman, I like the ease of being able to get something to show my queerness while I’m also picking up household items. It’s nice to be able to buy rainbow kitchen towels that I know I will proudly use all year round. At the same time, I still feel weird about it. Because it goes beyond a T-shirt or a flag. You can’t walk down an aisle without seeing a rainbow adorn something it normally doesn’t—wine, deodorant, even hot sauce.


While it’s nice to see brands acknowledge that June is Pride month, it still feels like overkill. But a friend shared a Twitter thread with me that reminded me of something very important. While rainbow capitalism still leaves a lot to be desired, there was a time in the not so distant past that brands wouldn’t even acknowledge the LGBTQIA+ community. And while we still have a long way to go, we have to give space to that past.

Sigrid Ellis, whose Twitter bio lists her as an “editor, air traffic controller, parent, feminist, writer, queer,” tweeted:

“As an Elder Queer I want everyone during on corporate gayness to just know a smidge of history. Companies used to refuse our money. Car dealerships would turn us away. Banks would refuse us mortgages. Restaurants and grocery stores would ask us to leave.”

It’s easy to forget the time before the LGBTQIA+ community was as accepted as we are now. However, our history is a lot more recent than people remember, and there are still many queer elders who remember how different things were in the '80s and '90s, which was only 30-something years ago. Ellis is talking more specifically of that time, when Pride was far more radical and significantly less corporate. But also, a time when vocally supporting gay people would do a lot more forward-facing damage to a company than it does now.

Ellis explains that when brands sponsored Pride, it meant that they were safe. And for those who were out at a time where it was significantly less safe to be visible, that meant something. It doesn’t mean they’re perfect allies to the community—but their vocal support in spite of knowing it could affect their bottom line says a lot.

“When Subaru sponsored a float at Pride, it meant we could buy cars there with dignity.

"When Target marched at Pride, it meant my gf and I could go shopping together.

"My first mortgage was from Wells Fargo bank because they would accept gay money,” Ellis wrote.

There’s a reason for the jokey stereotype about lesbians who drive Subarus. It’s because the company wasn’t afraid to stand with the LGBTQIA+ community when no other car companies would. That makes a difference when you’re making such a large purchase. And like I said, Target has been there for a while. I’ve watched the Pride section grow exponentially over the last few years, going from a few vague shirts with rainbows to having items for asexual, nonbinary and aromantic folks. They have family Pride outfits that feature same sex parents (though it would be awesome if they made shirts for the kids of those parents).

It was only 10 years ago, in June 2012, that the internet melted down when Oreo posted a photo in support of Pride. The image of the iconic cookie, posted on Facebook a year and a day after gay marriage was legalized in New York, featured six rainbow-colored layers of creme. The words over the image read “June 25 Pride.” The post was captioned “Proudly support love!” according to an article from Time. “Many commenters have denounced the company for supporting gay rights and for taking on political positions unrelated to its cookie-production mission,” the article stated. In a testament to how time moves things forward, Oreo has special Pride packaging this year.

Do we still have a long way to go before corporate Pride won’t feel like a moral dilemma? Absolutely. But if we keep pushing the needle forward with the understanding of the past, we just might get there.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

This article originally appeared on 08.21.18


Addie Rodriguez was supposed to take the field with her dad during a high school football game, where he, along with other dads, would lift her onto his shoulders for a routine. But Addie's dad was halfway across the country, unable to make the event.

Her father is Abel Rodriguez, a veteran airman who, after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was training at Travis Air Force Base in California, 1,700 miles from his family in San Antonio at the time.

"Mom missed the memo it was parent day, and the reason her mom missed the memo was her dad left Wednesday," said Alexis Perry-Rodriguez, Addie's mom. She continued, "It was really heartbreaking to see your daughter standing out there being the only one without their father, knowing why he's away. It's not just an absentee parent. He's serving our country."

Keep ReadingShow less

Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

Keep ReadingShow less