Pride Month: In this section of the Craft Brewers Guide to Cultural Observances, you’ll find a brief history of Pride Month, a set of considerations to help you avoid rainbow washing, suggestions and recommendations for your commemoration or celebration, and a set of helpful links.
Pride Month provides craft brewers with an opportunity to acknowledge and commemorate a significant historical moment in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ+) rights movement in the United States. While the U.S. Census Bureau does not currently include information about sexual orientation on the census, recent efforts to quantify the American LGBTQ+ community estimate that between 5.8% and 8% of the adult population identifies as LGBTQ+. Efforts to build community and visibility like Hop Culture’s Queer Beer Fest, the Queers Makin’ Beers homebrew club, and the international Queer Brewing Project suggest that a significant number of these 13–20 million adults are also enthusiastic members of the craft brewing community.
As with any other cultural observance, it is important to celebrate Pride Month with thoughtful intention, sensitivity, and respect. Without these, craft brewers may find themselves engaging in “rainbow-washing“—when a business publicly shows support for the LGBTQ+ community (for example, by labeling a product with a rainbow flag), but engages in everyday practices that are indifferent, insensitive, or even detrimental to those who identify as LGBTQ+.
This entry to the Craft Brewers Guide to Cultural Observances will guide you in your efforts to observe Pride Month in a manner that is inclusive, respectful, and tailored for your brewery.
What is Pride Month?
Pride Month is celebrated each June to honor the Stonewall Uprising, which occurred at the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Until 1966, it was illegal in the state of New York to serve alcohol to a gay person, and in 1969, the year the Stonewall Uprising occurred, homosexuality was considered a criminal offense. Gay bars, like the Stonewall Inn, often operated secretly and without a liquor license, leaving them open to raids and sometimes police brutality.
On June 28, the Stonewall Inn was raided. Most people inside were either drag queens or gay men of color. As those inside the bar began to fight back against officers using excessive force, protesters gathered outside of the Inn. The multiple-day confrontation that ensued galvanized an LGBTQ+ rights movement in resistance to decades of discrimination, abuse, harassment, and injustice.
The first Gay Pride march was organized in Central Park the following year and launched what would become a global celebration of LGBTQ+ rights. According to records archived at the Library of Congress, “there were three to five thousand marchers at the inaugural Pride in New York City, and today marchers in New York City number in the millions. Since 1970, LGBTQ+ people have continued to gather together in June to march with Pride and demonstrate for equal rights.”
Key Pieces of Information
- Pride month takes place each June in memory of the original Stonewall Riots and the first Pride march the following year. However, it’s also important to note that a handful of other LGBT-related resistance events occurred before Stonewall.
- Two key figures, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Riveria, are remembered with a monument in New York City near the Stonewall Inn, which was declared a national monument in 2016.
- The colors of the rainbow flag reflect the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community and the spectrum of human sexuality and gender. The symbol of the flag is worldwide equal rights and acceptance. Gilbert Baker designed the original flag in 1978 with pink representing sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for magic, blue for harmony, and violet for spirit. The updated flag most commonly seen today also includes black and brown stripes to acknowledge LGBTQ+ people of color and pink, white, and blue stripes, which are the colors of the transgender pride flag. Today there are many variations of the pride flag, each existing to represent and celebrate different gender identities.
Related Pride Observances
- March 31, 2022 – Transgender Day of Visibility
- April 14, 2022 – Lesbian Visibility Day
- July 14, 2022 – Non-Binary People’s Day
- October is LGBTQ+ History Month, a 31-day celebration to honor lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer achievement and influence in the world, and a time to learn more about the history of LGBTQ+ rights
- Oct. 11, 2022 – National Coming Out Day
- Nov. 20, 2022 – Transgender Day of Remembrance
Observing Pride Month at Your Brewery
Considerations for Your Pride Celebration
Make sure that you read the introduction to this guide. It lays out a list of questions to consider before celebrating any cultural observance. And remember, the celebration of the LGBTQ+ community and the fight for LGBTQ+ rights do not need to start and stop in June. Please consider how you can support this community all year long!
Striking the Right Tone
Though Pride Month may feel like a party at times (and is certainly a celebration), it’s important to remember it is also a cultural event with advocacy at its roots. Pride month commemorates a rebellion against unjust systems, prejudice, and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. As you celebrate Pride Month, use the opportunity to promote justice and unity.
Start with Internal Efforts
The key to avoiding rainbow-washing is leading with internal efforts to support and create visibility for the LGBTQ+ community. Without internal efforts to back up your Pride-themed events, beer releases, and merchandise, your Pride Month celebrations are little more than window dressing.
- Evaluate your internal discrimination and harassment policies, education, and training. Update them as necessary to include issues that pertain to the LGBTQ+ community to create a more inclusive working environment.
- Establish your business as an ally to the LGBTQ+ community and educate your staff about the importance of recognizing, supporting, and standing with the LGBTQ+ community.
- Host an inclusion workshop for your team. Multiply the impact by inviting other local business and key stakeholders from your community.
Follow with External Efforts
Build upon internal efforts by integrating education about and celebrations of the LGBTQ+ community into events, beer releases, merchandise, and more.
- Partner with your local LGBTQ+ Pride chapter or other LGBTQ+ affirming organization to host events in your community (on- and off-premise) that support Pride Month. Allow those who advocate for the community day-in and day-out to lead.
- Create a beer collaboration or special release to generate visibility, conversation, or raise funds for an LGBTQ+ cause of your choice. Spend adequate time researching potential partner organizations to ensure that they are aligned with your business’s values.
- Use a “round up” program to invite customers to have their check totals rounded up to the next dollar and donate the change to an LGBTQ+ related charity.
- Use your trivia night as a way to educate visitors about Pride Month or the LGBTQ+ community by adding a “Pride Month” category or questions.
- Use your social media to develop an awareness of your efforts for Pride Month. Ensure that all your efforts to highlight members of the LGBTQ+ community portray people as whole and complex individuals and not simply “mascots” for the LGBTQ+ community.
The Importance of Event Safety
For those planning events during Pride Month, it’s critical that you create safe and inclusive spaces for members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies. Make expectations for the conduct of your employees, vendors, volunteers, and visitors clear by posting codes of conduct on event websites, signage, or on the backs of badges. Provide a way for those who experience or observe misconduct to report it. The Brewers Association provides member discounts for subscriptions to two third-party reporting services.
Grace Weitz, managing editor for Hop Culture and Founder of the Beers With(out) Beards and Queer Beer festivals says, “I believe that enhancing festival safety is one of the most crucial components of any craft beer event moving forward, whether you’re a socially-driven one like BW(O)B and Queer Beer or simply a neighborhood craft beer showcase. Creating environments where everyone—no matter their gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, ability, race, religion, background, physical appearance, body size, age, or other characteristics—feels safe, is paramount in a festival environment. Crafting a comprehensive Festival Code of Conduct and partnering with organizations like #NotME or Safe Bars should be the standard for the industry moving forward.”