What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
The year 2002 marked the first year the Human Rights Campaign released their Corporate Equality Index, a yearly ranking of the LGBTQ-friendliness of companies based on their non-discrimination policies and philanthropy. Back then, Lockheed Martin, the aerospace and defense juggernaut, tied for last, with a score of zero, alongside two other companies. Today, things have changed: Lockheed has its own page on Dan Savage's It Gets Better Project and is an outsized presence at DC's Capital Pride. In this year's Index, the company nabbed a perfect score—its ninth in a row.
Whether that represents progress or not, however, depends on who you ask. Protesters from "No Justice, No Pride" certainly weren't interested in the company's transformation when they formed a human chain around Lockheed Martin's float at Capital Pride last Thursday, bringing the parade to a stumbling halt.
Activists are increasingly suspect of what they see as unethical brands latching on to pride celebrations to boost their own public images. In Pittsburgh, outcry erupted earlier this month when it was announced that the city's Pride would henceforth be named "The EQT Equality March," after a fracking company called "Equitable Gas." To add insult to injury, not only had Equity Gas been fined $4.5 million by environmental regulators in 2014 for polluting streams and rivers, the company had donated to the state's anti-gay Republican representative. Hitching a ride on a bedazzled rainbow float must've seemed like the perfect PR foil.
Bill Dobbs, a longtime gay activist and one of ACT-UP's founding members, supports the rising backlash against the gay establishment for its tone-deaf alliances.
"You can't get economic justice with [LGBTQ equality organization] Human Rights Campaign in bed with corporate America," he said. Because companies only have the vague aim of "diversity," he said, "our movement is no threat whatsoever unless we start realizing these corporations are running a lot of people into the ground."