About pride and commerce

Shortly after the end of Pride Month we use this time to recapitulate with suitcase manufacturer Rimowa how LGBT+ rights are negotiated in the company beyond their Pride Month campaign.

The Mother of Pride. Every movement needs a mother or a father. What Martin Luther King was to the Civil Rights Movement, Simone de Beauvoir did for the women’s movement. So the LGBT+ scene also has its very own mother: Brenda Howard – The Mother of Pride. The gay rights activist and feminist organized the first march in New York in the struggle for equal rights of LGBT+ people. It became a tradition and so there are always celebrations, marches and demonstrations in the month of July to raise political awareness for the current problems of the community.

Neither women nor trans or non-binary folks appear in Milner’s images. He criticises toxic enactments of masculine performance where it begins.

The start of the great change in the LGBT+ community was triggered by the Stonewall Riots in 1969, in which gays and lesbians and transgender people fought against discriminatory raids in a bar on Christopher Street. With these riots they triggered the worldwide active resistance against the discrimination of gays, lesbians and transgender people. The birth of Gay Pride.

Despite the fact that this breakthrough was more than 50 years ago, homosexuality is still treated as a taboo subject in many countries. The rights of the community are disregarded, and its demands are pushed to the margins of society as if they could be overlooked there. The scene was also kept small for years in estimates that the community made up about one percent of the German population. An exact recording was difficult because the respondents did not find themselves in the categories surveyed. But in 2016, a first study was conducted on the topic by the Berlin-based survey Startup Dalia, and the figures show that the LGBT+ share in Germany is 7.4 percent.

Jack Taylor Lovatt pays respect to queer fashion moments.

If the true percentage of the population is known to a minority, this automatically gives room for the question, will the share of the LGBT+ community in business, teaching, research, politics and all other areas of our public life be fair? It is the question of sufficient representation, which still often has to be answered with no. And this is exactly where the criticism of the companies that use Pride Month to write diversity on the rainbow flag hoisted at short notice without really establishing it in the corporate culture comes in. How inclusive are we really?

“As a young gay man and artist growing up in a small town in the north of England, I always had to travel to find people like myself”⁣⁣, says Jack Taylor Lovatt about his cooperation with Rimowa.

We therefore use the time shortly after the end of Pride Month to recapitulate with suitcase manufacturer Rimowa how LGBT+ rights are negotiated in the company beyond this period. The suitcase company used Pride Month for a campaign in which they had a selection of queer artists from around the world tell their stories about love and travel and how one can so often shape the other. The artists include Stephen Milner, Jack Taylor Lovatt, Lara & Marta, Strauss Louw, Jeffrey Cheung and Every Lesbian and Their Fashion. Their photographs, illustrations and testimonials show both the shared experiences that people from different backgrounds have when exploring with a partner and the unique journeys that the LGBT+ community experiences.

Achtung Digital: During this special month various events are held, there are political protests and parades as a way of recognising the influence LGBT+ people have had around the world. How did Rimowa make sure that LGBT+ people also shape the work and thus the face of the company behind the scenes?

Rimowa: For Pride Month, we felt it necessary to publicly recognize and loudly celebrate the LGBT+ community within our own ranks who form an integral part in how we shape and how Rimowa is perceived. Rimowa’s ongoing success is owed in no small part to our willingness to nurture a diverse and inclusive environment from our executive team and employees to our creative partners and global brand ambassadors.

Jeffrey Cheung’s Art celebrates Queer and Trans People of Color.

AD: For your project you have brought a number of artists to your side who share their stories about love and travel. How did the selection of the artists come about?

Rimowa: We always look to artists that are true fans of the brand and share in our values and vision. For Pride Month, in particular, we wanted to promote LGBT+ artists from around the globe with a wide range of travel experiences, perspectives, and stories to tell.

AD: What has to change in the industry to create more attention and in the long run more normality for minorities like LGBT+ people?

Rimowa: Industries would be wise to not use or capitalize on LGBT+ culture merely to promote products without going a step further to make any lasting impact, whether that be donating time or funds to LGBT+ causes or committing to diverse and equitable work environments.

With his drawings and photographs Jack Taylor Lovatt celebrates the pride month and captures stories between travel and love.

AD: What part does Rimowa play in this change?

Rimowa: As a global travel brand, inclusion and open-mindedness are at the core of what we do. We pride ourselves on selecting and promoting a range of talent, both emerging and more well-established from diverse communities of varying visibility. It is our belief that only like this can we represent our global audience to the best of our ability.

AD: Now Pride Month is already over, we would like to take a look into the future together with you. What happens next, how will Rimowa transfer this attention to the LGBT+ community into their concept in the long run? What did you learn from your project?

Rimowa: We will continue to highlight LGBT+ voices and explore how we can use our platforms to promote inclusivity.

Instead of further fueling the cliché of the hypermasculinity of surfing, Stephen Milner finds in it an alternative, erotic fantasy.