By: Courtney Conard
After years in the shadows, Pride Month was first celebrated in the mainstream by President Bill Clinton in the late 90’s, and those small steps forward have led to a giant walkway into the future. Globally, Pride Month is celebrated in different fashions, with ceremonies ranging from somber, seclusionary events, to carnivalesque celebrations.
In an effort to provide some great information to suggest how far we have come as a people, we have hit to the streets and visited many local retail shops to see what kind of impact Pride Month has on their bottom line.
What we found is a far cry from what we would have encountered prior 1993, even in Russia it took until that year to decriminalize homosexuality.
The store that blew me away as I walked through the door was Lane Bryant with their “full-on rainbow mode” collection. Partnering with iconic actress and Drag Queen, Nina West, as well as donating $30,000 to GLSEN, a non-profit organization helping to stop harassment, end descrimiination, and bullying towards sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in schools.
The diverse array of clothing placed conspicuously in the front of the store Lane Bryant, ranging from shirts, to leggings, to jewelry, and more, Lane Bryant has stepped up their game. “When they started having a Pride selection a few years ago it was over in the corner,” said Lane Bryan employee Liz, who has been at the Limerick store for three years and overall 8 years for the company. “Every year it gets bigger and bigger”.
Lane Bryant can be labeled as a store meant for “plus size” or “older” women, but broke the mold by taking a younger and trendy approach, with some really nice looking clothes. My first impression was how comfortable and soft the clothing was and how vibrant the colors were on the T-shirts and the jewelry.
Claiming the runner up position is Target. Their approach to Pride was on the basic end, with classic sayings “Love is Love” and “PRIDE” in different colors. The feeling of the clothes felt like your average T-Shirt. Upon purchasing a NYX Ultimate Edit Rainbow eyeshadow palette, with very vibrant colors, I noticed a sign next to the display.
“L’Oreal USA is proud to support Ali Forney Center,” the largest community center helping homeless LGBT youth. “With a donation of $100,000 in 2021 to support their mission.”
Ranked in third place is Five Below. Their section was hidden beyond their monstrous candy land, and truly gave it all they could. From flags, to headbands, to welcome mats, Five Below had some very cool stuff, but more accessories than anything that would be misconstrued as fashion.
Coming in at fourth place is Hot Topic. From their rainbow striped shirts, pants, and overalls, to their multi color Funko Pops, Hot Topic surely left their mark on things. Not only did they have clothing and accessories, but also protection from the current 2021 COVID pandemic. Disney took this opportunity to put Mickey Mouse in Rainbow on masks.
“In celebration of Pride month 2021 and the company’s Pride collection, Disney is donating funds as part of our ongoing commitment to organizations around that world that support LGBTQ+ communities.” According to the “Rainbow Disney Collection” tag located on the items.
Bringing up the rear is Old Navy. Despite their obvious colossal advertisement budget, they have a remarkably diminutive Pride section in their store. Their clothes were very comfortable and discreet enough to wear all year round, but the selection was limited. I could only find up to two shirts and a pair of rainbow gradient flip flops.
With prices varying from $5.00 to $75.00 per item the range was as diverse as what Pride Month represents. It was great to see that major name brand stores continue to increase their awareness of the world we live in and are making huge strides down the rainbow colored brick road.