Wynwood Pride’s business model threatens the queer community

William Jennings Sadler/Contributing Writer

From June 21-23, the Miami Arts District celebrated Wynwood Pride. The event was marketed as a three-day music and arts festival that, according to its website, defines itself as a “non-profit organization that consists of individuals interested in promoting the talent, commitment, and richness of the LGBTQ community in Miami and beyond.”

However, it was initially produced by the for-profit organization SWARM, and there are a million reasons why that is a direct threat to the queer liberation movement.

Wynwood Pride boasted a lineup full of internationally and locally celebrated talent that sparked tons of interest among the queer community, including mine. Yet, upon realizing that this was an unofficial Pride event, I started to feel skeptical about the event’s actual purpose. 

As nationwide political attitudes toward queer people shift toward neo-liberal and artificial tolerance, more and more companies are participating in the exploitative phenomenon known as “rainbow capitalism,” which is when corporations appropriate the queer liberation movement by putting a rainbow on their logo.

Allyship, right? Not exactly. Capitalism’s idea of solidarity is taking queer people’s money and, in many instances, redistributing that money to anti-queer organizations and politicians. 

Last year, AT&T donated $2,755,000 to 193 anti-LGBTQ+ politicians, Verizon donated $1,022,803 to 74 anti-LGBTQ+ politicians, and Pfizer donated $959,263 to 52 anti-LGBTQ+ politicians. All of these corporations put rainbows on logos and merchandise during Pride Month. 

Indya Moore, an actress and trans activist, said, “Our oppression isn’t seasonal… Representation shouldn’t be an annual holiday or a marketing strategy. It should be normalized and regular protocol…”    

This year’s Pride Month marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, where gay rights activists stood up against police at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar, in New York City. When we support for-profit Pride events, like Wynwood Pride, we surrender our history and values. Pride Month exists because of black trans women who protested institutionalized oppression. Pride is not a space for commodification or brand activation. 

Many who were scheduled to perform at the festival felt the same way. Some even decided to speak out and withdraw their participation from the event as a form of protesting SWARM’s business model.

Florida Man, a local drag performer, announced that she would be canceling her performance at Wynwood Pride because she felt the festival was inconsistent with the queer community’s best interests. 

“Wynwood Pride is founded by a privately owned company that is not obligated to act in the best interests of our community,” she said. “That’s fine for a festival or an enterprise, but Pride is historically an act of queer protest. The notion that anybody, even other queer people, can turn a profit off Pride and have full legal freedom to turn around and change their business model is scary in principle. I wouldn’t trust it even if Marsha P. Johnson herself was at the helm…”

Wynwood Pride, Inc. has recently registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The organization ensures that 100% of the proceeds from the festival will benefit the queer community. That, in some ways, is a success that came to fruition because of widespread community concern.

However, this conversation is far from over. Queer people must stay vigilant in terms of where we place our dollars, trust and support.  



The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

Featured image by Benson Kua on Wikicommons.

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