Not all rainbows: What LGBTQ people are actually wearing for Pride

Nicole Mae created a video to showcase what she calls “authentic queerness,” amidst a sea of corporate “rainbow washing.” It highlights members of the LGBTQ community and what inspires their fashion.

Corporations can paint Pride with a pretty narrow brush

What queer people are actually wearing for Pride Month

1 year ago
Duration 3:41
Regina filmmaker Nicole Mae interviewed LGBTQ people on what inspires their fashion. There are no rainbow T-shirts; instead, Mae aimed to depict "authentic queerness."

This video and opinion piece were produced by Nicole Mae, a Regina-based poet and filmmaker, in collaboration with CBC's Creator Network and CBC Saskatchewan.

Many people in the queer community are irritated by the ways large companies market Pride. In the month of June, they redesign their logos and products with rainbows as a claim of allyship. But they rarely donate the proceeds to LGBTQ communities or participate in actionable change, like speaking out against the anti-LGBTQ bills blanketing the U.S.

This type of advertising has taken on the term rainbow washing. My definition: Companies that use rainbows in order to indicate progressive support, but put in minimal effort to actually better the lives of the LGBTQ they're trying to sell to. 

A passerby in a car recently hurled the 'F' slur at Taylor Stevens. He says it empowered him to be even more resolute in his identity and self-expression. This is the outfit he was wearing the day it happened. (Nicole Mae)

On top of this deceptive activism, companies engaging in rainbow washing can do more harm than good by employing stereotypes in their advertising. Oftentimes, the corporate representative for our community is a flamboyant, cisgender white man wearing a rainbow T-shirt. Companies capitalize on the token gay character we've seen over and over again in TV shows and movies. But it was queer and trans woman of colour who started Pride. Still, they are grossly underrepresented in the media and by large companies.

What Queer People Are Actually Wearing for Pride Month was made to showcase authentic queerness. It highlights members of the LGBTQ community in Regina and what inspires their fashion. There are no rainbow T-shirts; there is simply a space to amplify their voices and demonstrate a diversity rare in Pride marketing. 

Mackenzy Vida hopes to inspire kids with her fashion. (Nicole Mae)

You can find the extended version of What Queer People Are Actually Wearing for Pride Month, featuring 25 local and international interviewees, on Nicole Mae's YouTube channel.


Nicole Mae (she/they) is an author and filmmaker from Treaty Four Territory. Currently, they have two poetry books published and an archive of videos on their YouTube channel. Nicole's works regard themes of nostalgia, longing, and identity.