Rainbow capitalism, also known as pinkwashing, is defined as how 2TLGBIQA+ symbolism is wielded by companies to heighten consumerism among the 2TLGBIQA+ community and allies without leading to meaningful improvement for the community or in the individuals in it.

In the current climate, with the onslaught of anti-trans legislation across the United States, we are in a crisis year. We don’t need rainbow capitalism; we need community building and activism.

Unfortunately, that’s not what we’re getting. In fact, a lot of the sponsors of Denver Pride also fund some of the most virulent anti-2TLGBIQA+ politicians in the United States. Not here, of course. We have protected rights here in Denver and Colorado. But the organizations that are sponsoring our Pride are making life hard for our 2TLGBIQA+ siblings in other states.

According to my research – obtained through Popular Information’s report and through using the Open Secrets website for the donations and cross-referencing those donations with the voting records of politicians using the Vote Smart database – collectively the sponsors of Denver Pride donated at least $6.1 million to anti-2TLGBIQA+ politicians since January 1, 2022. 

I would ask the organizers of Denver Pride to find a better way. To do that, I would ask them to come to the table with members of the community – particularly those that would be targeted by these laws and those forced to flee states that were enacting these laws.

I would ask the organizers of Denver Pride to consider Community-Centric Fundraising principles and practices they can use to fund Denver Pride without funding the laws that hurt our 2TLGBIQA+ siblings in other states. And, I ask them to go one step further to envision what Denver Pride could be if it focused on our collective liberation, not rainbow capitalism.

What if, instead of Coors Light (Molson Coors, donated at least $126,600 to anti-2TLGBIQA+ politicians in 2022) sponsoring and in return having their logo all over the parade and website and having a monopoly on beer sales, Denver Pride featured the myriad of Colorado’s queer-owned microbrews? What if, instead of starting sponsorship at $3,000 which is cost-prohibitive for the vibrant community of queer- and trans-owned companies and nonprofits, there was a tiered sponsorship system that took into account the gross income of the company or nonprofit? What if queer and trans resources were featured as sponsors, in the vendor booths, and in the parade helping 2TLGBIQA+ members of our community know what resources are available to them?

Those are just some of my imaginings, but I ask the organizers of Denver Pride to envision with the community. 

Organizers of Denver Pride, please take note that I’m not alone. A group of us will be taking direct action during the Pride parade by sharing the amount each company donated to anti-2TLGBIQA+ politicians in 2022. I want to be clear that this is not a protest against anyone, and certainly not The Center on Colfax whose services we value greatly. This is meant to be an invitation to speak with the community about what Denver Pride needs to be to benefit the community. 

I hope that the organizers of Denver Pride are inspired to come in community with us to figure out a better way. Because the current configuration of the Pride event – where companies that donate big money to politicians that fight against our rights are featured, almost none of the vendor booths are owned by or fund 2TLGBIQA+ people, and our actual community members who fight for our equality and rights year-round are priced out – is not how we reach our libration. 

Organizers of Denver Pride, please come to the table, and let’s envision our liberation, together.

For our collective liberation,

Chris Talbot-Heindl (they/them)
Denver, Colorado