Letter from the Senior Digital Editor: Celebrating Pride

Looking back at the history — and future — of Pride in business.

A small Pride flag pin on a person's denim shirt.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Did you know a business opportunity played a role in the history of LGBTQ rights? 

Pride is celebrated in June around the anniversary of the 1969 riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York that kicked off the modern fight for rights and safety. The bar, at the time, was owned by a member of the mafia. 

The mafia “saw a business opportunity in catering to the otherwise shunned gay population,” according to PBS, so made Stonewall a gay bar, with some protection from police thanks to bribes. It’s not like these mafiosos were progressive heroes — they allegedly blackmailed wealthy patrons — they just saw dollar signs and chased them. 

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These days, as I’m sure you’ve heard, corporations have gotten involved in Pride Month, and along with that has come controversy. On one side, members of the LGBTQ community criticize companies for profiting off Pride merchandise without making meaningful contributions to LGBTQ rights and safety. On another, decidedly more extreme side, anti-LGBTQ actors have attacked companies for selling Pride merchandise, making outdated, homophobic claims. 

The fight has come to the stock market, too, as people are using their dollar vote to support — or “boycott” — companies featuring Pride. The share price of Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) has dipped in recent weeks due to backlash over Bud Light advertising with influencer Dylan Mulvaney, who is transgender, although the price is still higher than it was at a low last fall. The stock price of Target (TGT) is also suffering after it caved to extremist pressure to remove Pride merchandise from stores. 

Of course, Americans are free to buy or not buy whatever merchandise or stocks they want (insider trading aside), but it’s not just action happening in the market: LGBTQ rights and the safety of those in the community are under attack every day across the United States. 

It’s a joyous time of year where I live in Chelsea, New York, a historically gay neighborhood that positively lights up in June, but there are reminders of what it took to get to this celebration, like the plaque recognizing the first permanent home of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, which was started during the AIDS crisis, or the older neighbors I’ve seen wearing jackets with the words “Stonewall Survivor.”

There are reminders, too, that the fight for people to be who they are and love who they love without fear is still going on. And that fight is more valuable than any business opportunity could ever be.


What I learned this week:

Alexandra Svokos
Senior Digital Editor

Alexandra Svokos is the senior digital editor of Kiplinger. She holds an MBA from NYU Stern in finance and management and a BA in economics and creative writing from Columbia University. Alexandra has a decade of experience in journalism, specializing in online newsrooms. She previously served as the senior editor of digital for ABC News, where she directed daily news coverage across topics through major events of the early 2020s for the network's website. Before that, she pioneered politics and election coverage for Elite Daily and went on to serve as the senior news editor for that group. 

Alexandra was recognized with an "Up & Comer" award at the 2018 Folio: Top Women in Media awards, and she was asked twice by the Nieman Journalism Lab to contribute to their annual journalism predictions feature. She has also been asked to speak on panels and give presentations on the future of media, including by the Center for Communication and Twipe.