The NBA created rainbow Pride t-shirts for each of its 30 basketball teams. American Apparel featured a line of hats and other products that read “Make America Gay Again.” And Bud Light aired a commercial with Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen drinking beer at the wedding of "Steve and Greg."
These are just some examples of the heightened level of support the LGBTQ community saw from major corporations during Pride Month in June. But now that the parades and rainbow-themed celebrations have concluded, will we continue to see their support?
Bob Witeck, founder of LGBTQ-focused marketing company Witeck Communications, said companies should be judged by their support of the community year-round, not just during Pride Month.
“Gay people especially have a lens that is both welcoming and critical. We are always going to second guess why all of a sudden we are the flavor of the month," Witeck said.
American Apparel's director of co-branding and philanthropy, Henry Szymanski, told NBC OUT the company felt it was important to create a campaign that was both engaging and had impact. He said the "Make America Gay Again" campaign was ideal, because it was recognizable and politically linked.
“We believe that leveraging the power of important cultural moments to help inspire consumers to turn their awareness into action is our responsibility as a socially conscious and ethical company – plus, we have tons of fun doing it!”
Szymanski noted 30 percent of sales from American Apparel's "Make America Gay Again" campaign will be used to support the Equality Act, an LGBTQ-rights measure introduced by Senators Jeff Merkley, Tammy Baldwin, and Cory Booker, and Representatives David Cicilline and John Lewis.
Bud Light debuted a same-sex wedding ad in June designed to support marriage equality. During the 30-second spot, movie stars Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen give a toast to both grooms, and Rogen says "Bud Light proudly supports everyone's right to marry whoever they want."
Alex Lambrecht, vice president of Bud Light, told NBC OUT the company has been a proud supporter of the community for more than 20 years.
“In 1995, Bud Light ran its first ever LGBT-specific print ad: ‘Labels belong on beer, not people.’ Bud Light has always been a brand that participates in – and reflects – modern culture,” Lambrecht said.
Jonathan Lovitz, vice president of external affairs at the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), said he understands why many in the community may be skeptical of the efforts and commitment of major corporations. However, he pointed out that many of the community's victories in recent years have been aided by the support of the corporate world.
“Every day at the NGLCC we repeat the mantra that ‘Equality is Good for Business.’ We’re grateful that the overwhelming majority of top corporations and brands agree - and have given their support to the LGBT community as both a moral and economic imperative," said Lovitz.
Witeck agrees that equality is good for business, but he advises the LGBTQ community to hold corporations accountable.
“I think our lens tells us to be questioning,” he added. “I do want to make sure corporations continue to live up to their obligations to get it right."