Advocates in the LGBTQ+ community want corporate leaders to continue their support and resist calls to pull their backing of LGBTQ+ causes and policies during Pride Month.
"I think that the climate for the LGBTQ right now is kind of tense," said Rex Fuller with the Center on Colfax in Denver. "There have been a lot of legislative attacks going on across the country."
Many businesses across the country get in on Pride Month and show their support for the LGBTQ+ community. But many corporations have received backlash in recent weeks.
Most recently, Target announced that it removed products and relocated Pride displays to the back of certain stores after protesters knocked over Pride signs and worried staff.
Target said the move was made to ensure the safety of their employees.
"You started seeing things like rainbow t-shirts in stores, and for many who are part of the community, it has been really encouraging," Fuller said. "What has been difficult now is there's a coordinated attack on companies to take that merchandise away or not speak on behalf of civil rights of LGBT people."
"We're also seeing real online and in-person harassment and threats of violence by extremist groups," said Janson Wu with the GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders. "It's just part of this broader and concerning trend of extremism in our country."
Nearly 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures around the country,according to the ACLU.
Because of this, many advocacy groups are calling for new campaigns to convince corporate leaders to use their platforms to support the LGBTQ+ community. There are organizations like Out Leadership that advise corporations in the U.S. and abroad on how to adopt LGBTQ+-supportive policies and practices.
Wu said when big corporations show support, it can create a safer environment for employees.
"It's really important that we not cave to extremism," Wu said. "Celebrating pride in corporate America in storefronts is profoundly affirming to all LGBTQ people, particularly young people. What we need from all of us, whether or not you are part of the LGBTQ community or not is that you're vocal and need to be visible in the values that we all share. We need to celebrate the companies that are doing the right things, who are not backing down in the face of extremism.
“The Dodgers was a good example. They initially rescinded their invitation to a LGBTQ organization they were honoring in the face of protests. But then after they realized that was the wrong thing to do, they reversed course and chose the path of equality."
Fuller said more open corporate support can also help with the mental health of young adults. Some major companies' financial support also helps his organization.
"The support of companies is part of the funding model that keeps us in business," Fuller said. "We are able to provide the services that we do because of different companies that support the center. Many people may not realize that is how that financial support comes about. I think that ultimately people are just grateful for the chance to have a place to go and find the support that they need."
Still, LGBTQ+ supporters in the community said these struggles, such as hostility toward retailers, are just the latest obstacles in a decades-long struggle for equality.
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