LGBT Pride Month is here and even though most celebrations and parades across the country have been paused (again) amid the pandemic, you can still shop with pride. But beware Corporate Pride. While more and more companies recognize queer customers, not all rainbow merch collections actually benefit the queer community. A rainbow logo on name-brand sneakers is great (and as an LGBT shopper I love to see it!) but in the world of corporate social responsibility, there’s a lot of work to be done and help that should be given to those in the most marginalized queer groups: BIPOC and trans youth.
To help kick off June, we’ve rounded up our favorite LGBTQ+ small businesses and big brands with products giving back to LGBTQ+ organizations in Chicago and around the world. Take a look at our top picks below and outfit yourself and your home with Pride buys that give back.
Pride Candle Co.
The LGBT Pride flag has evolved over the years, but the original design has a specific meaning for each color stripe. Red is life. Orange is healing. Yellow is sunlight. Green is nature. Blue is serenity. Purple is spirit. And Chicago maker and artist Tim O’Keefe has created a scent that represents each of these colors at Pride Candle Co. The line of handcrafted candles is poured at O’Keefe’s studio in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood using environmentally friendly and ethically sourced ingredients, including natural, clean-burning soy wax, phthalate-free fragrances and USA-made glass. “Even though the LGBTQ+ community has enormous buying power—$3.2 trillion to be exact—they often aren’t represented in the stores, products and companies they are spending their money on,” says O’Keefe. “We set out to change that.” The candles come in a range of 10 unique scents, such as Bergamot Lemon Driftwood, and feature the Pride flag on the outside, with a rainbow color on the inside. Candles are available online and locally in Chicago at Foursided and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Pride Candle Co. donates 10 percent of its proceeds to organizations and projects that support the LGBTQ+ community in Chicago and across the country. Through sales and startup capital, it has given more than $80,000 to causes such as TRANS Chicago and Equality Illinois. Most recently, Pride Candle Co. helped fund the creation of ART and PEP, a documentary about two LGBTQ+ Chicago icons.
The Bouqs Co.
Farm-direct flower delivery brand The Bouqs Co. has partnered with the Los Angeles LGBT Center for a third year and brought back its popular Rainbow Bouqs for Pride Month. The rose bouquet is literally a rainbow with red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet petals. (Just watch the blue ones when you’re arranging in a vase as they’re dyed and can stain hands and table tops.) Twenty percent of net profits from the Rainbow Bouqs will be donated to the center.
While PopSockets has a wide variety of licensed logos and pop culture designs, the phone grip empire also has a collection designed by independent artists across the country that gives 50 percent back to charity called Poptivism. Many of these PopGrips support national LGBTQ+ organizations as well as smaller, local groups such as the SF LGBT Center.
Additionally, PopSockets has a Pride 2021 collection with more than a dozen designs featuring the rainbow flag, bisexual pride flag, trans pride flag and lesbian pride flag. And 50 percent of proceeds will support the It Gets Better Project’s mission to uplift, empower, and connect LGBTQ+ youth.
Even if you’ve never heard of Lokai, you’ve probably seen them. The rubber beaded bracelets represent life’s highs and lows. Each Lokai bracelet features a white bead filled with water from Mt Everest, the highest point on Earth. And on the opposite side, each bracelet features a black bead with mud from the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth. It’s a reminder to stay humble when you’re riding high, to stay hopeful when you get knocked down and to find balance in the inbetween. To date, Lokai has donated more than eight million dollars to charities and causes including The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ youth. For each Pride Lokai sold, Lokai will donate $1.
Walk with pride with the new line of rainbow socks from Happy Socks. The collection is in collaboration with InterPride, the global network of official pride events including PRIDE Chicago and San Francisco LGBT Pride, and 10 percent of the profits from every pair sold will go to InterPride. Not just in June, but throughout the year. The 2021 lineup of socks includes styles for both kids and adults as well as three-pack gift boxes.
Seattle beauty brand Herbivore has earned a cult following for its eco-friendly products made with food-grade, cold-pressed oils, and, for Pride, Herbivore is giving back with its Prism line of facial serums. For each Prism facial or serum sold, Herbivore will donate $1 to The Trevor Project with a minimum commitment of $75,000 in 2021.
Baked by Melissa
Rainbow bagels are great, but rainbow mini cupcakes are better. NYC sweets shop Baked by Melissa is back for the sixth year in a row with six and 25 packs of rainbow-colored cupcakes. You don’t even have to be in New York to get your hands on them as they ship anywhere in the U.S. Even sweeter: 10 percent of net proceeds will be donated to The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in NYC.
In the last decade, House Wine has really made a name for itself with its boxed and canned wines — especially its sparkling canned wines. The Washington label focuses on quality, everyday table wines inspired by Europe and continues to change people’s minds about non-bottled vino. Canned wine is good and for Pride, the House Wine Rainbow Rosé Bubbles is decked out in a special rainbow-clad can. And for every case sold, House Wine will donate $2 to the Human Rights Campaign.
Last year Teva debuted a line of sandals just for Pride with rainbow straps and platform footbeds and this year the collection is back with new styles, more size options and even a line of pet accessories. The line is in tandem with Teva’s $35,000 donation to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
Disney Rainbow Collection
The 2021 Disney Rainbow Collection has several noteworthy firsts this year. For the first time, the Pride-inspired merch includes designs featuring other big brands from the mouse umbrella of content such as Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars. The Pride Mickey pins feature the first use of the Transgender Pride flag, Bisexual Pride flag and Lesbian Pride flag in any official Walt Disney Company or Disney Parks merchandise. And for the Pride flag itself, this year’s collection features the first use of the Philadelphia eight-stripe Pride flag with intersectional black and brown stripes. Like in years past, Disney will donate to GLSEN, but this year Disney will also donate to LGBTQ+ groups around the world including the It Gets Better project in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru.
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Deanne Revel is a travel journalist and host in Seattle, WA. She is passionate about LGBTQ rights, mental health and a proud supporter of The Trevor Project. When not on assignment, you can find her exploring National Parks or theme parks with her wife. Follow her adventures on Instagram @revelandroam.