Serious Conversations: Pride Month

by Sara Rivera

Branding isn’t just about brands. It’s about the creatives who make them, too. We asked our favourite LGBTQIA+ creatives on what it really means to be an ally, and branding’s impact on the sunny future we’re trying to build together, rainbows and all. 


In conversation with Don Jaucian, Belle Rodolfo, Betsy Cola, RJ Santos, Ginoe, Jer Dee, and Naia. 

Don Jaucian, Features Director - CNN Philippines Life

In general, what do you think about brands celebrating “Pride Month?”

The advantage here is that we get to tell our stories on a larger platform, especially if you have big brands supporting Pride events or rolling out ads/shorts that spotlight the experience of a marginalized community. But at the same time, they’re also selling their products using our experiences, which they would be more than happy to ignore for the rest of the year. But that’s just capitalism.

 

These brands are often run by conservative boards who don’t want to ruffle any feathers. They have to walk the talk when it comes to supporting the LGBTQIA+ community. It isn’t enough that they’ve turned their logos into the Pride flag.

 

What do you think can brands do to actually and genuinely help the LGBTQIA+ community? Any tips?

 

There was a 2018 survey that showed that there were “zero Philippine-based companies implementing policies meant to protect their employees from SOGIE-based discrimination.”

 

This is already antithetical to the numerous Pride-flag logos that we see come June. They have to look inwards and assess how they are treating their LGBTQIA+ employees. Have there been any issues of discrimination or harassment, not only from co-workers but from superiors and employers? What kind of anti-discrimination policies should be in place to protect the LGBTQIA+ members of the workforce? This isn’t asking for special treatment — this is to ensure that there are equal rights for everyone.

 

You wouldn’t want your cishet daughter getting harassed in the workplace, right? A SOGIE workshop is well and good, but for some people, it’ll just be another “seminar” to forget, especially if they’re not open-minded. Policies will help supplement the workshop.

 

Do you remember any brand that had/has an LGBTQIA+ friendly campaign that you connected with?

 

Nothing significant, but this year COS did a collection designed by queer creators and 100 percent of the proceeds went to LoveYourself. I think that’s pretty great. They’ve supported queer creators and the community.

 

Any LGBTQIA+ owned brand that we should be supporting at the moment?

 

There’s Blocleaf Cafe, Baker on East, Glorious Dias, Cogencia, One Zero Design, Randolf, Proudrace, Carl Jan Cruz, Owa Sylvia, Butterboy, Space Encounters, etc. And not just brands, support queer creators as well!

 

It’s hard to keep a business afloat, especially during a pandemic. Imagine how much harder it is for queer-owned businesses. But more than that, we need more safe spaces for the queer community. If I want to dance and have a few drinks with my friends at Poblacion, I don’t want to constantly worry if the bouncer is going to be homophobic or not.

Belle Rodolfo, Yoga Instructor and Beauty Editor

In general, what do you think about brands celebrating “Pride Month?”

 

It’s cool if their intentions are genuine.

 

What do you think can brands do to actually and genuinely help the LGBTQIA+ community? Any tips?

 

Be vocal about their support not just seasonally, use their platform to amplify queer voices, and honestly, open their purses!

 

Do you remember any brand that had/has an LGBTQIA+ friendly campaign that you connected with?

 

Sadly, none have actually resonated or stuck with me only because so few really incorporate it into their messaging year round.

 

Any LGBTQIA+ owned brand that we should be supporting at the moment?

 

I am loving VICE Cosmetics right now. Other than amazing and affordable products of course, I’ve noticed their founder, Vice Ganda, has been using their platform and voice to educate more people about SOGIE and on primetime television, no less. That’s pretty game-changing especially in our country.

Betsy Cola, she/her, Illustrator

In general, what do you think about brands celebrating “Pride Month?”

 

While it’s nice to see an [LGBTQIA+] friendly shift in marketing, the way brands participate during pride month seems performative and surface level.

 

What do you think can brands do to actually and genuinely help the LGBTQIA+ community? Any tips?

 

I’d like to see brands express their support not only during pride month but during any day of the year. When there are issues that are detrimental to [LGBTQIA+] rights, that’s when their support is needed the most.

 

It’s also wild to see brands that celebrate pride month and continue to work with public figures that are anti-[LGBTQIA+]. It’s very hypocritical and damaging to the community. If they are truly sincere about being an ally, they wouldn’t t give those people a platform.

 

Do you remember any brand that had/has an LGBTQIA+ friendly campaign that you connected with?

 

This year, I had the awesome opportunity to create a couple of pride variant covers for Marvel Comics. I appreciate their efforts in placing queer characters in the forefront especially when a portion of their fanbase is still quite dismissive or hostile towards the [LGBTQIA+] community. Although it’s not surprising to see discriminatory comments made about queer characters simply for existing, it can still be disheartening. Representation and normalization of the [LGBTQIA+] community in media still has a long way to go so I’m hoping and looking forward to more well-written queer characters and stories.

 

Any LGBTQIA+ owned brand that we should be supporting at the moment?

 

Not sure they qualify as brands but there are a lot of skilled and amazing local LGBTQ+ artists that produce their own merch. What better way to support the community than to directly support the individuals that compromise it. Now that Komiket and other pop-up events are happening again, there are more opportunities to support and buy from your local [LGBTQIA+] artists. A lot of whom are still students and/or working in a creative industry where their art is under valued. Some artists worth checking out are Maria Mediarito, Cyrill Acuña, and Elle Shivers, just to name a few!

RJ Santos, Owner of Randolf Clothing

In general, what do you think about brands celebrating “Pride Month?”

 

I think celebrating pride with the community is nice, but performative. If these brands really care for the community, they would take a stand and actually be involved with efforts that would help the community, like pushing for same sex unions, holding seminars to talks for their employees about SOGIE, etc! Puking rainbow colors just won’t cut it.

 

What do you think can brands do to actually and genuinely help the LGBTQIA+ community? Any tips?

 

They really need to be involved with causes and issues that surround the [LGBTQIA+] community. They need to be vocal on issues like same sex marriage/union. They need to be invested in educating their employees about SOGIE.

 

Do you remember any brand that had/has an LGBTQIA+ friendly campaign that you connected with?

 

None haha sorry! It’s always rainbow and these cheesy commercials where poof bading pala siya haha.

 

Any LGBTQIA+ owned brand that we should be supporting at the moment?

 

Mine HAHAHA kidding, but a lot honestly! And tbh, almost all brands have an [LGBTQIA+] owned brand counterpart. But don’t support just because it’s [LGBTQIA+] because that’s crazy hahaha! Hmm top of mind would be Butterboy! They have really good pastries!

Ginoe, a Queer Visayan Creative

In general, what do you think about brands celebrating “Pride Month?”

 

Celebrating Pride month as an annual event is okay, but I think this performance should be paired with actual action within their HR policies. LGBTQIA+ (and other marginalized peoples) should be given equal and just wages, afforded the ability to form unions, and the space to question/challenge outdated and bigoted policies within their company. The companies taking advantage of rainbow-washing should also stop funding/supporting collectives/legislators who make the lives of the LGBTQIA+ community harder in an already challenging cisheteronormative world.

 

What do you think can brands do to actually and genuinely help the LGBTQIA+ community? Any tips?

 

A. Open their purses. Donate to community-based projects and collectives like BAHAGHARI Philippines, Home for the Golden Gays, to name a few.

 

B. When doing Pride Campaigns in the Philippines, I wish brands would employ queer faces/talents that actually look like the general population of queer individuals in the Philippines. Not just the usual thin, fair-skinned, ambiguously-European models -although there are members of our community who look like that, I think it’s fair to say that they don’t represent the Filipino queer population

 

C. Hire queer individuals within your workforce, actively engage your employees in compensated discussions re:gender sensitivity.

 

Do you remember any brand that had/has an LGBTQIA+ friendly campaign that you connected with?

 

None that actually affected me/changed my life in a direct way.

 

Any LGBTQIA+ owned brand that we should be supporting at the moment?

 

@gloriousdias, @minsanobjects, @thatelephantparty, @remusbaudelaire, @thirstyllama.ph, @arcanatattooph, @damgocoffeeshop, @celerycoffeestand to name a few.

Jer Dee, Illustrator

In general, what do you think about brands celebrating “Pride Month?”

 

I don’t have a problem with it as long as these brands have platforms and clearly support the battles of the [LGBTQIA+] community all year, not just on Pride Month. As a queer person, it’s easy for me to spot the inauthentic ones who are only after the pink money; the ones who only acknowledge us on June but pay us dust for the rest of the year.

 

What do you think can brands do to actually and genuinely help the LGBTQIA+ community? Any tips?

 

Aside from showing accurate representation on their marketing materials, what matters most is amplifying and supporting the most marginalized of the community– which can range from pledging support through various [LGBTQIA+] organizations and giving us the opportunity to collaborate and be actually be part of their internal teams outside of Pride Month.

 

Do you remember any brand that had/has an LGBTQIA+ friendly campaign that you connected with?

 

I remember that one Bench billboard ad in 2015 with Vince Uy and Niño Gaddi and the controversy surrounding it. At first I felt happy that queer people are actually being represented when it was posted on social media, but then when the billboard was up in Guadalupe, their hands were blocked out. I forgot the full story on how it happened but when that post came out I felt livid on how we are still treated as second-class citizens who don’t deserve rights in this country. It lit a fire in me to make my work more queer and be louder with my advocacies.

 

Any LGBTQIA+ owned brand that we should be supporting at the moment?

 

For me it’s any small-mid [LGBTQIA+] owned brand, there’s so much variety in multiple industries. We have Butterboy, who serve good food and host fun drag brunches. We have queer-owned fashion brands like Randolf, Proudrace and Salad Day who sell fashionable clothing at affordable prices. I’m also for supporting local drag talent like the queens of Drag Playhouse and O-bar/Nectar queens.

Naia, Budding Drag Queen from Las Piñas City with big dreams and an even bigger shoe size

In general, what do you think about brands celebrating “Pride Month?”

 

I think that most are trying to get on the hype train of pride month without actually doing anything substantial for the [LGBTQIA+] community. It’s a very shallow or vapid kind of support that is all about the rainbow aesthetic and trying to get queer people to buy their product or service. Sa totoo lang, some brands just rely on their queer marketing people to get through pride and trust me I know this because I’m friends with a lot of queer marketing people hahahaha.

 

What do you think can brands do to actually and genuinely help the LGBTQIA+ community? Any tips?

 

They can start by actually hiring [LGBTQIA+] people or collaborating with queer artists and other queer-owned businesses! Internally they can also hold workshops on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE) because workplace discrimination is still rampant. Also hire some freakin drag queens for your events, my god, we make everything better char!

 

Do you remember any brand that had/has an LGBTQIA+ friendly campaign that you connected with?

 

Personally I don’t know of many big brands that did pride campaigns, though I’m sure some did. Some small businesses did pride discounts for drag queens like Wigs by Margaux, which was not only very timely but also hella useful since this is one of our busiest months!

 

Any LGBTQIA+ owned brand that we should be supporting at the moment?

 

Butterboy Bakehouse! Everyone should try going to the country’s premiere morning drag show at Butterboy in Quezon City, hosted by me of course! (self plug hahah) Not only are they a queer-owned business, but they actively support the local drag scene and are set for bigger things in the near future. Their success is a testament to how genuine support for the community is not something you can feign, but when you serve the queers, the queers give back! Ganern! Reciprocate lang ng gay energies char! Oh, and their croissants are amazing!!

We want to make a Serious Difference by starting meaningful conversations about branding beyond what makes sense and looks good, Serious Studio stands with our LGBTQIA+ community by doing good by them through action above all else.

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