While corporations post rainbows on social media to showcase their supposed support for the LGBTQ community during Pride month, many of these companies are quietly donating tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians who are pushing for anti-LGBTQ legislation, a new analysis shows.
According to Data for Progress, dozens of companies that sponsor Pride celebrations across six major cities in the U.S. or that have signed pledges to support the LGBTQ community have collectively donated over $1.5 million to anti-LGBTQ politicians across six states. Fortune 500 companies have spent more than $2.8 million overall on anti-LGBTQ campaign donations.
The analysis highlights offenders that are sponsoring Pride festivities in Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco.
The biggest donor among the group of sponsors is Toyota, which has donated $601,500 to anti-LGBTQ politicians since 2019. Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott alone has received $400,000 from the company within the last few years — even while Abbott has worked to erode rights for the community and is currently one of the leaders of a nationwide conservative campaign to attack transgender children and thus threaten their lives.
AT&T is also among the lead donors to anti-LGBTQ campaigns, the analysis shows, even though the company is a Pride sponsor. The company has donated nearly $300,000 to a wide range of right-wing politicians, much of which has also gone toward Abbott’s campaign.
Both Toyota and AT&T have their headquarters in Texas, and have received huge tax incentives for operating in the state. Comcast, another Pride sponsor which has business operations in Texas, has also given tens of thousands of dollars to Abbott, and over $120,000 in donations to anti-LGBTQ politicians in total.
While these companies purport to be good allies to the LGBTQ community with public-facing entities like their rainbow-colored logos and Pride-themed products, they are fighting to keep politicians in office who will ensure that their corporate tax rates remain low, actively bolstering anti-LGBTQ hate campaigns across the country.
Donating to politicians who cosponsor or introduce anti-LGBTQ legislation is an unpopular practice, Data for Progress finds. According to a recent poll, about 54 percent of likely voters disapprove of corporations donating to such causes, while only 36 percent of voters approve; when voters are informed that companies like Disney, Walgreens and Lowe’s are giving to anti-LGBTQ politicians, the companies’ favorability among the poll respondents dropped by up to 37 points.
It’s unlikely that most consumers are aware of these practices, however, meaning that corporations’ bottom lines are likely unaffected by their hypocrisy on LGBTQ rights and other issues. Many corporations that vowed to protect voting rights in wake of the January 6 Capitol attack later donated to Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election, for example.
Over the past years, LGBTQ activists have been fighting to keep corporations out of Pride altogether, saying that “support” from companies only serves to boost their public image while obscuring the purpose of Pride celebrations, which were borne out of radical grassroots movements and uprisings.