Another Pride Month flooded with lavish events, blocked roads, and rainbow-themed corporate logos raises a pertinent and pressing question: Who funds the “Pride” parades across America? Townhall followed the money to find the pot of gold at the end of the lucrative LGBTQ+ rainbow. In doing so, we found the big-brand companies, top donors, and Democrat-led city councils that are throwing tens of thousands of dollars toward LGBTQ+ campaigns in hopes of virtue-signaling their way onto the woke legion’s good side.
D.C.-based Pride Month events are hosted by LGBTQ+ nonprofit Capital Pride Alliance, which touts a staggering “Advocates” list, a tier-ranking of sponsors separated by the size of their donations.
Amazon, MGM, and Marriott are three of Capital Pride Alliance’s top financial backers, known as “Presidential Advocates” that are “Unapologetically Proud” to be funding Pride in the nation’s capital. Car manufacturers, banking firms, and alcohol corporations follow closely behind, including Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Samuel Adams as “Visionary” “Vice-Presidential Advocates.”
Nissan, Audi, Capital One, Hilton, Wegmans, and TD Bank are among the “Rainbow” advocates. Also included in the “Rainbow” roundup are the Washington Commanders, formerly known as the Redskins, who have been in the news for anything other than football over the past few years, and the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ+ lobbying organization in the U.S.
What are they funding, you may ask? The annual Pride parade, a trans Pride pool party, film festivals, and drag shows, most of which have paid levels of registration if you wish to participate. The main Pride Month parade and block party were held on June 10, when many of these familiar companies and organizations had low-level employees marching during last weekend’s festivities, complete with corporate-branded parade floats and free rainbow-colored merch tossed to the massive crowd gathered in Dupont Circle.
Beyond corporate funding, D.C. City Council has had a program for years now, known as the Festival Fund or Special Event Relief Fund, that pays for street closings, police, and public safety support services surrounding community events, among other annual costs for Pride activities in the metropolitan area. This year, the program included a $1.5 million Festival Fund as part of the city’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget, the Washington Blade reported, which saved the Capital Pride Alliance as much as $750,000.
San Francisco Pride doesn’t list their sponsors and did not respond to Townhall’s request to view their financial backers; however, the organization’s website displays a tier list starting at a $30,000 donation, which buys sponsors a booth at the Pride parade, logo recognition on the website, and advertising in the newsletter. Higher monetary contributions ensure that corporate partners are rewarded with greater advertisement opportunities, such as advertising on the main stage and priority parade placement for $150,000-plus donors
“We carefully select our corporate partners based on a variety of factors, including their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and their track record of supporting LGBTQ+ causes. This selectivity helps ensure that our event is aligned with our values and that we are partnering with companies that share our vision for a more inclusive world,” reads San Francisco Pride’s partners page. “By choosing to support San Francisco Pride, our corporate sponsors demonstrate their commitment to the LGBTQ+ community and their willingness to use their resources to effect positive change.”
Meanwhile, San Francisco Pride’s donation portal catalogs individual supporters donating as little as $5 and as much as $10,000, with more than 280 backers and counting.
Despite the funds already received, and a $300,000 budget allocated to them last summer from city supervisors, the cash-strapped foundation is currently $800,000 short of where they need to be for Pride Month, according to SF Pride spokesperson Shaun Leavy.
San Francisco Pride’s trans-identifying executive director Suzanne Ford pointed to the lack of Pride parades in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting it was particularly hard on the LGBTQ+ organization’s coffers:
COVID was devastating – we didn’t have revenue for a couple of years but we still had costs,” Ford said. “In 2019, we had a half-million in reserve – [former executive director] George Ridgely had done a great job – Fred [Lopez] came on [board] and the pandemic hit. Last year it was a miracle we got it together. The city did help us with funding. Everyone helped. The price has gone up incredibly more, and we still have additional money to find … We’re working hard to find partners in the community. It’s a challenge. We do have some left in the reserve and we’re proud.
One way Pride is seeking to fill the gap this year will be by raising money on the parade route itself. The committee has traditionally accepted donations at the festival’s gates.
The city, as of early April, is projecting a $291 million budget deficit for the next fiscal year, but District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman is still looking to pry enough out of the mayor to cover the Pride budget this year, according to the Bay Area Reporter.
(SF Pride did not respond to Bay Area Reporter’s inquiry regarding Ford’s salary. The ex-executive director from previous years was reportedly pocketing a six-figure salary.)
Of San Francisco’s many sexually charged community Pride events, including BDSM speed dating and queer cuddle parties, the one that stands out the most is a night party called “Lust.” The event for “queer kinksters” is said to have a “fully equipped dungeon,” “naughty play area,” and a “cuddle/quiet room.” There is also a late-night pole dancing and drag show called “Think Of The Children,” where they sell raffle tickets with the proceeds allegedly being used to support “trans and queer youth” in the area. Participants of the “Trans Youth Fundraiser Show” are encouraged to bring cash to throw at the performers.
New York City
On NYC Pride’s community impact page, their funds are proudly displayed. The estimated average annual revenue generated for citywide Pride events is a whopping $1.5 billion. The usual suspects are behind NYC Pride’s financing, though the vetting process is fierce, following the Human Rights Campaign’s corporate equality index to measure the corporate LGBTQ allies’ policies, practices, and benefits pertaining to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer employees.
Along with Hilton, Garnier, L’Oréal, and Mastercard, Target is among NYC Pride’s top-tier “Platinum” sponsors. After the recent controversy over Target’s Pride merchandise, NYC Pride released a statement saying they were “disappointed” to see the retail giant, a veteran Platinum sponsor, pull the LGBTQ+ merch from their store shelves:
NYC Pride has a duty to both support our partners and hold them accountable. Like others in our community, we strongly call upon Target to reaffirm its commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community by reinstating all Pride merchandise on sales floors and taking measures to ensure the safety of team members on the front lines. We have stated our position directly with Target, and will continue to evaluate our partnership going forward as we strengthen our solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community.
The Twin Cities
Twin Cities Pride in Minnesota is also trying to get every penny they can, using a website littered with donation opportunities, including two donation campaigns with $50,000 and $100,000 goals, respectively. In conjunction with Father’s Day, the Minnesota Twins are hosting a Pride Family Fun Day event on June 18. The Minneapolis Institute of Art also held a Family Day with a Drag Story Hour for children.
Corona is following in Bud Light’s footsteps by becoming a sponsor of LA Pride. Some repeat LA Pride sponsors include Delta, McDonald’s, iHeart Radio, H&M, Target, and Grindr, a gay hook-up app. The Los Angeles Dodgers are honoring the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a drag group directly mocking the Catholic Church, with a “Community Hero Award.”
Despite consistent cash flow from a laundry list of woke corporations, Los Angeles residents are charged tickets to attend popular Pride events, including a concert featuring Mariah Carrey and Megan Thee Stallion. However, some Pride supporters find it out of place for a nonprofit to host events that cost the community their hard-earned dollars:
Fine. I’m gonna say it.
Why does LA have two separate “festival” style concerts for Pride that cost upwards of $300? Why is money being made on this? Why are we gatekeeping our own community with classism and forcing celebration to be a privilege? Why are ANY events for-profit?
— Michael Peckerar (@michaelpeckerar) June 8, 2023
Denver Pride has also benefited from an influx of support from beermakers, in this case, Coors Light. Walmart is also a high-level sponsor despite the Target debacle, but managing to stay out of controversy, for the most part. Fox Business reported that Walmart CEO Doug McMillon credited this to a middle-of-the-road strategy, telling shareholders that the company doesn’t “wake up in the morning wanting to go and make social and political statements,” in response to a question at a company meeting in late May.
Meanwhile, some Pride events in Florida are being canceled altogether following a series of laws GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis signed shielding children from far-left gender theory in public schools and protecting women’s spaces. Although events for adults are still perfectly legal, a handful of organizers have decided to cancel them anyway in what appears to be something of an accidental admission that such laws to protect children are needed.