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Around the U.S., June means LGBT pride and profit

June 2, 2014

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These two appear to be checking out the memories before the London Pride 2013 events are over. PHOTO: Garry Knight

One of June’s most widespread observances is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, which as this Library of Congress history page notes, commemorates the Stonewall riots in Manhattan which were a milestone in the gay liberation movement in the 1960s.

Celebrations in the form of parades, parties, rallies and so on will be taking place nationwide all month and now might be a good time to take a look at the economic impact of both the events themselves, and more broadly the economic power of LGBT businesspersons and consumers.

And last weekend, President Obama proclaimed June to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month 2014.

Here’s an interesting report from Pride Toronto about the economic impact of that city’s 10-day festival last June; it says the fest and related events generated $286 million, maintained more than 3,700 jobs and produced more than $60 million in tax revenue for the region.  (And the city of Toronto since has agreed to double its financial support of the festival for 2014, per this Daily Xtra report from December.)

Have your area’s event organizers analyzed the economic impact of local celebrations?  Check there, with development authorities and chambers of commerce (including if available your area’s chapter of the LGBT Chamber of Commerce) and municipalities.  If no area report is available, check with economists at area business schools and universities, or even at regional banks and brokerage firms; they might take a stab at quantifying the impact for you.

And of course, you can start now to gather anecdotes from business owners and operators, from hotels, restaurants and bars to the many other businesses that serve special events, like security firms, janitorial services, entertainment promoters equipment rental firms (public address and AV equipment, tents, bleachers, vehicles) and concession/merchandise vendors.  Perhaps the cities on parade routes can provide you with permit applications, for example, that can lead you to vendors.

Seattle Pride 2014 Tshirt
Seattle held a Pride T-shirt contest. This winning design is being sold for $15.

If you have household name companies in your market, ask about their plans to sponsor or commemorate LGBT pride month.  What are the parameters of workplace celebrations, and what financial support are they offering locally or nationally to pride events?  Here’s a 2012 U.S. News & World report piece on “How corporations are profiting from gay pride,” that may give you ideas to pursue.

Don’t forget about the merchandise angle, too – a quick eBay search turned up more than 17,000 hits (I like the $18 “Keep Calm and Pride On” shirt) from flags to jewelry to those stick-on family car decals.  Cause marketing wholesalers sell plenty of rainbow merchandise too but I was not able to find evidence of any bricks-and-mortar chain retailers including LGBT pride items among their seasonal goods; it might be interesting to ask why and what their plans are following a year or two of important milestones regarding same-sex marriage, openly gay athletes in major pro sports and other milestones.

This is cool:  As announced Friday, the National Park Service is going to begin recognizing with markers locations that are important in the history of the gay rights movement and of LGBT people.  As this report from Maine’s Bowdoin College notes, a group of scholars has been invited to Washington, D.C. to weigh in on prospective sites to receive parks service recognition; historic solemnity aside it’s logical to wonder what such designation could do to boost tourism and you might want to check in with economic development folks in your area to see if they have any plans to promote or suggest sites in your region.

And speaking of tourism, if you’re in a destination market, how are your area’s resorts and hospitality industries courting the LGBT consumer?  This recent New York Times piece, “The evolving world of gay travel,” notes that some unexpected venues are stepping up to court LGBT families.


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