Saturday, September 28, 2013

Put Your Money Where Their Mouth Is

Recent calls for boycotts of vodka and pasta inspired me to write this week’s blog. No, I’m not going to prattle on about why you shouldn’t drink Stoli or how we need to demonstrate to Barilla that LGBT people eat more pasta than they think. This little blurb is about the opposite side of that fence.

I think we as members of the LGBT community need to acknowledge that we didn’t get to this incredible moment in our history on our own. Over the years, public figures and companies have taken a stand on our behalf incurring the wrath of those determined to treat us as less than human. They suffer their own form of bullying to stand up for us underdogs and ask nothing in return. We’re not obligated to buy Starbucks coffee or support JC Penney when they launch a pro-LGBT ad campaign. We can nod in their direction and continue shopping wherever we damn well please but that strikes me as a little inconsiderate.

Without the support of groups with more clout or greater reach than our little minority voices we wouldn’t be where we are. We’ll boycott when were angry but we’re not so good at gratitude. I’m not suggesting you spend extra money when your budget is already stretched thin. I’m talking about cultivating a greater awareness of the attitude our money supports. Let’s be honest. It doesn’t do our struggle for equality any good if we continue to give financial support to companies that are determined to keep us in the closet.

Before you start with the whining and complaining that it takes too much time to research this crap and you aren’t a hardcore protestor, rest assured I know that. I’m a huge fan of fuzzy slipper activism. If you can’t gather the data while sipping coffee in your favorite jammies it’s not going to get done. Lucky for us you don’t have to do any research at all. Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has already done it. All you have to do is download their 2013 Corporate Equality Index report and turn to page 51. It’s spelled out with pretty colors and everything.  

What you do with the information is up to you. All I’m suggesting is that as a consumer you keep in mind that every time you pull into an Exxon station for gas you’re giving money to a company that rated NEGATIVE 25 percent on the index compared to Chevron’s positive 100 percent. You don’t need to know exactly what those numbers represent to know that Exxon will take your money but would prefer it if gay and lesbian sexual behavior was labeled a federal crime.

Every industry on the report has highs and lows and some of those numbers might inspire you to change the way you shop. For example, if you’re into fast food make a note that Burger King scored 55 to McDonald’s 75. For home repairs, Loews scored 35 to Home Depot’s 75. For pet food, Purina ranked 45 to Proctor and Gamble’s (Iams) 90. For groceries, Whole Foods scored 75 to Safeway/Tom Thumb and Kroger/Fry’s 85. For clothes, H&M scored 55 to Levi’s 100.

Banking is easy. Most of the major banks and credit companies in the US are in lockstep at 100…Visa trails at 90 and Discover is a shameful 45. In department stores, Walmart scored 60 to Target’s 100, though Target is problematic because they play both sides of the fence. They publicly support LGBT rights but at the same time make quiet donations to a group that funds some of the most vile and hateful politicians in the extreme conservative population. Do with that information what you will.

I recommend you take a few minutes this week and look over the list to see where your favorites rank. Most of the ratings are where I expected them to be but there were a few surprises. You’ll no doubt find a few of your own. When you do it’s up to you to decide how much you’re willing to sacrifice for the sake of equality. Maybe it's a little, maybe a lot, maybe nothing because you’re already supporting our corporate champions. In that case, you rock and you get a gold star!

Six days to the release of Changing Tide! Stay tuned for details about blog tours and giveaways.

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