Saskatchewan LGBTQ business owners are speaking out about "rainbow capitalism" heading into Pride month this June.
Josephine Kraeker and Shala Neufeld are both members of the LGBTQ community and business owners. Kraeker owns Baeker Kraeker and Neufeld owns Nefelibata Crafts, both in Saskatoon.
They both say consumers should be careful about where they spend their dollars and make sure places selling pride merchandise actually support LGBTQ rights.
"We don't need to be supporting rainbow capitalism. We can actually put our money toward these queer, locally owned businesses," Neufeld said.
She defined "rainbow capitalism" as corporations trying to capitalize off of Pride without actually supporting the LGBTQ community. Examples include a company adding a rainbow to their logo or selling rainbow items for a week during June.
Kraeker said rainbow capitalism is known by many names, such as rainbow-washing or pink-washing. She said it just feels disingenuous to the queer community if corporations support anti-LGBTQ politicians then sell pride merchandise.
"They tend to sort of play all the sides and try and cater to everyone, which actually kind of caters to no one in the end," she said.
Neufeld said the visibility of Pride month is important, but that there needs to be a deeper understanding and support of queer people and queer-owned businesses. She said it's a big problem on several levels.
"[Rainbow capitalism] puts extra hurdles on our everyday life, but also in our regular business life."
Neufeld said that although there is less overt homophobia — such as vandalism of LGBTQ businesses — these days, there are still microaggressions and other forms of discrimination. For example, some people choose not to buy from her when they find out she is an LGBTQ community member, she said.
"It is part of who we are and we want to represent that in our businesses and how we do business," Kraeker said.
Kraeker said she highlights issues with queer and trans rights in her baking and while she's had mostly positive reactions, she has worried about it potentially hurting her business.
"Find those Black, Indigenous, people of colour, queer-owned businesses and highlight them, amplify them," Kraeker said. "Even if you don't have the money to support them monetarily, share those profiles with your friends."
Neufeld agreed, saying "just a simple click, which may not seem like a big deal, makes for a big deal to a business owner."
Support queer year round
Caitlin Semaganis is from Saskatoon and now lives in Edmonton. The jewelry maker said consumers should support queer-owned businesses year round, not just in June.
"For me, it goes directly to me and it helps me buy materials. It helps me pay my bills, buy groceries, whatever that I need," Semaganis said.
"Support actual queer people who are also trying to make a living."