What does it mean for a business to support the LGBTQ+ community? As Pride gets more and more corporatized each year, a parade sponsorship or ‘Love is Love’ ad campaign isn’t enough to distinguish truly queer-friendly businesses from those who are simply ‘rainbow-washing’. True corporate allies prove themselves through small-scale, year-round stories of tangible support for the LGBTQ+ community.
One of my favorite examples is about an incident that occurred outside a pizza food truck in Columbus, Ohio called Mikey’s Late Night Slice. You can read the full account in the words of Joel Diaz, one of two gay men who were harassed while waiting to order their pizza.
The short version is, another guy in line was being a homophobic jerk – and when Joel stood up for himself and his friend, the entire community immediately jumped in to support them. As Joel writes:
“It was actually the straight people in line who spoke up that were so awesome. I didn’t expect to see allies so willing to chime in and let this guy know that his hate speech wouldn’t be tolerated.”
But that’s not the end. When the employees running the food truck noticed the commotion, they made it clear that Mikey’s didn’t serve homophobes and kicked the guy out of line. As one of the pizza-makers later said to a reporter, “A guy came up for a slice of pizza, and got a cold slice of justice.”
The staff of Mikey’s was willing to throw the weight of their business on the side of inclusion.
Every time I think about this story my straight, cisgender, pizza-loving heart sings.
It’s not just the strength of the community or the fact that people intervened to do the right thing. It’s not even that fantastic tagline. It’s that the staff of Mikey’s was willing to throw the weight of their business on the side of inclusion.
One of the realities of capitalism is that companies – even local small businesses like Mikey’s – have a lot of power in their communities. And when you have power, it’s easy to let morality take a back seat to profits. After all, a homophobe’s money spends just as well as anybody else’s. But choosing not to do business with bigots is one of the most powerful statements a company can make about its values.
Frankly, I don’t care if Mikey’s has ever sponsored a Pride event or hung a rainbow flag off their truck. The next time I visit Columbus, Ohio, I know exactly where I’m getting my pizza.
—Ted Burnham, Avanoo Lead Content Marketer
Ted Burnham loves the power of words – to tell stories, explain big ideas, and help people connect. He is a writer, editor, multimedia producer, storyteller, and “professional combobulator”. Ted’s work has appeared on NPR, Popular Science, and elsewhere.
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