Pink capitalism: A darker shade of the rainbow

Colors fascinate me because of their ability to paint imagery, modify the ambience, and, in this instance, capture markets. Pink is assumed to be a feminine hue, yet there are many more tints of it than we realise. Pink capitalism, also known as rainbow capitalism, homocapitalism, or gay capitalism, refers to the integration of the LGBTQ++ movement into capitalism and the market economy. Products are pink washed to seem gay-friendly, reflecting the firms’ progressiveness and tolerance in order to attract LGBTQ++ customers. This step towards capitalism aroused both applause and critique after years of living in denial and striving for existence.

We as a civilization just recently started to acknowledge the LGBTQ+ community, although they still struggle for inclusion. Creating a market centred on them was no cakewalk in this scenario. Many large corporations and enterprises have recently shown their support for the LGBTQ+ community. For example-Fastrack, through their advertisement of “come out of the closet”, OK cupid #loveatfirstsight, then Vicks through their ad about “touch of care”(PATNAIK, 2021).

While such initiatives are lauded for their aim to promote the concepts of inclusion and liberty in society. The extent to which they have been implemented is still debatable. Perhaps capitalism is too hard on socialism at times, and the true goal is forgotten while focussing on the market. When I hear or read about the LGBTQ+ community, all I see are colourful flags, painted garments, and a smattering of other colours. I often wonder, “What lies beyond these flags?” Is there even an overarching concept? This prompted considerable investigation, and the following are some of the topics that are rarely addressed.

  • To begin with the whole idea of pride month or the queer community has been just reduced to the idea of “love is love” with flying rainbow banners, while the underlying concerns are just sidelined. The majority of advertising presents this problem as a joyous occasion rather than an actual societal exclusion. While it is indeed joyous, what is necessary is a deeper knowledge and understanding that is not always about celebration. 
  • There is no meaningful attempt to widen the reach of these initiatives to larger audiences who may benefit from so-called ‘awareness’. There aren’t enough people behind these efforts, which make them superficial and produce little immediate value to the queer community as a whole.
  • Ads like these depict the movement as apolitical. The slogans are limited to expressionism, and many issues such as hate crimes, conversion treatments, forced marriages, corrective rape, and so forth are not addressed. These ‘buzz kill’ realities are eradicated, and India’s whole LGBTQ+ community merges into a single hypersexual populace with a singular sexual orientation and love for rainbow socks.
  • More crucially, the employment of LGBTQ+ individuals has been skewed by so-called “queer friendly” businesses. Although organisations like TATA have rainbow-colored logos, their employment of Trans persons is still controversial. For many of those from the trans community, employment and job stability remain a distant fantasy. Even if they are recruited, they are forced to suppress their identities, to conform to stringent dress codes, use binary washrooms, and submit to so many such norms and rules that contribute to the erasure of their identities.   . 

Every social movement has its own set of problems. Pink capitalism is no exception.  It is a transient response to a problem that demands a long-term, serious solution. It is an artificial sign of development. It offers the illusion of progress and acceptance while diverting our attention away from the poor material conditions that continue to stymie the LGBTQ++ community. It’s high time we start addressing their real problems, and accept the queer community as they are. We have  been living in denial, denial of their existence, denial of their rights and even denial of acceptance for far too long. Nelson Mandela once said, “To deny people their human rights, is to challenge their very humanity”.

So, rather than just creating an illusion let the rainbow expand and reveal its true colors.

Arismita Deka

MSc Financial Economics

Works Cited

PATNAIK, D. (2021, MARCH 12). Marketing The Rainbow: Queer Advertising Campaigns In India. Retrieved from FEMINISM IN INDIA:

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