Corporate allyship at Brighton Pride 2022

I’ve seen this original tweet a lot in the last few days and it has brought me joy every time.

For two reasons. Firstly, Wickes didn’t need to go all-in like this with corporate allyship — and then to back it up with a LinkedIn post from their COO.

In the 28 years I’ve being going to Pride events (👴🏼), we’ve gone from Absolut Vodka being one of the few brands that’s willing to support us dirty homosexuals to every other brand flying rainbows and trying to catch a few pink pounds.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m no fan of pinkwashed capitalism, but the “there were no rainbows in mySainsbury’s growing up” thread from Jamie Gallagher last year hit me hard — imagine how much less fucked-up us late Gen-X-ers and Gen-Y people would be now if instead of all the hate from the mainstream press (even Richard Ingrams in the fucking Observer!) had been replaced with even a hint of tolerance.

But the point stands — Wickes could have got adequate kudos from the usual lip service we are used to from most brands. We’ve all seen those tweets of rainbow logos from multinationals, but not in Russia and South West Asia:

But the part that really brought tears to my eyes is that we are several years into a moral panic about trans people here in the UK. People and publications we used to consider left-wing are happy to peddle fascist-funded lies, misinformation and scaremongering. From the supposed “harm” of puberty blockers and scaremongering about “mutilating” children — when waiting lists for gender services in England are years and years long — to bullshit about “men in womanface” posing a threat to “our women and girls” in toilets, changing rooms and sports. Even the government’s equalities office gets involved in the transphobia.

Make no mistake, those are fascist lies, whether they come from children’s authors, Olympic swimmers, lesbian academics, Tory leadership candidates or Labour MPs.

So seeing a company that has no obvious, direct skin in the game supporting all of the LGBTQ+ community: it matters. The poor souls staffing Wickes social media accounts these last few days will have been barraged with transphobic hate (and I hope they get the right support in that regard).

The overwhelming majority of the queer community — and of the country at-large — does support our trans family. But it’s really difficult to remember that when our national broadcaster platforms transphobic lies without fact-checking and every single day sees hate peddled in our supposed newspaper of record, let alone the fascist press like the Mail.

So thank you, Fraser Longden and your team. Allyship matters — unambiguous, visible allyship when you didn’t need to do it all the more so. Thank you for supporting our whole community, not just the parts that became less controversial during my adult lifetime.

Tweets, and the repeat of the image from the original tweet are used without permission, ostensibly for the purpose of news reporting under section 30(1) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

This article’s text is dedicated to the public domain under the terms of the Creative Commons Zero licence. Please feel free to translate, copy, excerpt, share, disseminate and otherwise spread it far and wide. You don’t need to ask me, you don’t need to tell me. Just do it!

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Owen Blacker

Owen Blacker

🇪🇺🏳️‍🌈🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿♿⧖ Mainly-gay, mainly-Welsh political geek; proud social justice warrior+trans ally. @WikiLGBT, @OpenRightsGroup, ex- @mySociety. he/him