NYC Pride 50: For Sale to the Most Corrupt Bidder

The saddest thing about this, children of the revolution, is there is a very large number of contenders vying to win this auction.


I hear the following things quite often from friends of mine in the LGTBQI community about President Trump and his supporters:

  • “How could these people be so ignorant?”
  • “Why does everyone look away while all of this crap is going on right in front of their faces?”
  • “Everyone surrounding the President is a crook.”
  • “It seems that almost everyone that has colluded in criminal activity connected with Trump gets away with it.”
  • “Seems that people with money always by their way out of jail.”
  • “Don’t people who support the President understand that they will also be screwed over?”
  • “I guess this isn’t a bigger problem because these people are white.”
  • “Trump’s policies on the environment will destroy the planet and kill people.”
For 24 bucks, this poorly designed piece of irony can be yours.

I have also been reading all of the “outrage” about President Trump’s Pride 2019 T-shirt he is selling for 24.00. Yes, he has a truly terrible record when it comes to supporting this community. The timing, of course, isn’t random.

For those not in the know, this is the 50th anniversary of one of the most significant events in LGTBQI history: The Stonewall Riots of 1969, which was a catalyst for the emergence of gay rights in the 1970’s, rights that we are still being denied to this day. The riot at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar on Christopher Street, was the Queer shot heard around the world.

#NYCPride and #Stonewall50 sponsor HSBC bank was found guilty of laundering money for murderous Mexican drug cartels. Photo courtesy of T.O.T. newsroom.

So, with that in mind, I went to the NYC Pride website at, to see if they had any to say in response. After all, this is Ground Zero for the fight, correct? This is the place where the revolution started, correct? It’s a very well done website. I even looked at the Sponsors page, and, much to my surprise, saw a lot of  familiar faces.

Aren’t we better than this?

Why familiar? Many of NYC Pride’s 50th Anniversary sponsors have rarely been out of the headlines lately. It seems so absolutely impossible that this happened at all. Here are some, but not all, of their biggest hits.

  • Money laundering for a violent Mexican drug cartel that is responsible for enough deaths to fill two stadiums.
  • Identity theft, bribery and employment discrimination.
  • Violation of antitrust laws, market manipulation, securities fraud, illegal price fixing, mortgage fraud, credit card fraud and violating consumer protection laws. 
  • Selling access your personal information without notification or remuneration.
  • Illegal home foreclosure and auto repossession.
  • Publicly shaming a woman filed a “nuisance suit” after her alleged attacker was over served alcohol and had been harassing her for hours.
  • Exploiting local resources and leaving many towns without water, illegal toxic waste dumping, poisoning local water reservoirs, illegal rainforest clear cutting and the killing of endangered species.

…and my personal favorite…

  • Assisting the government in deporting citizens, some of them people of color and members of the LGBTQI community. The only reason they stopped? LGBTQI Rights groups made the activity public.

These are but a handful of some of the recent heinous acts committed by some of the sponsors of New York City’s Pride 50th Anniversary of Stonewall. Yes, the riots in 1969. The one where drag queens, people of color and Trans folk stood up to the police and demanded fairness, to be free from abuse, for equity and for a balanced placing field in the eyes of the legal system. 

#NYCPride and #Stonewall50 sponsor Unilever has settled a case of toxic Mercury dumping, making an entire community very ill. Photo courtesy of the Guardian.

Isn’t this the same type of exploitation that needed us to stand up 50 years ago? Aren’t the actions of these sponsors similar to those from five decades ago that kept a cruel, patriarchal, racist, homophobic, misogynist and unfair system in place that saw us as nothing but a problem? Aren’t we better than this? Haven’t we learned anything?

Often, the people that run the businesses abuse their power, privilege and place and admit to little or no wrongdoing. It almost always seems that they walk away scott free because, well, they can afford it.

#NYCPride and #Stonewall50 sponsor Mastercard, fresh off a recent U.S. antitrust case, has also been selling your personal data to Google.

Let’s focus for a bit about equality, fairness and social justice based on the recent actions of the sponsors of #NYCPRIDE #STONEWALL50 #WORLDPRIDENYC (By the way, according to the NYC Pride website, these are the “official” hashtags. Please use them when referring to the criminal activity of their sponsors.)

You see, this is the way it works. Company X is responsible for criminal activity, including aiding and abetting murders on a scale seen only in war. They get busted, are threatened by the government for their felonious acts with all sorts of bluster, and at the end of the day, no one goes to jail, fines get paid, and these same people promise to act better. Until they don’t, which will happen. Over and over again.

Upon examination, it almost seems like a sick type of legal money laundering.

In between scandals, which have caused actions that have been irreversible in some cases, these same companies often promise to do better. Then, they make a big, public spectacle of supporting some non-profit with a big check and their logo splashed upon T-Shirt, print ads and, you guessed it, websites. This sort of altruism also comes with a tax write off, which just makes the loss of your family, well-being and community that much more OK, because someone else gets to have a party.

And this is the part where the defenders of said party weekend, funded with money gladly accepted from criminals, felons, thugs and killers, tell you about all the good work these companies do, and then look away and change the subject when the truth is brought to light. Upon examination, it almost seems like a sick type of legal money laundering.

Considering all of this, where exactly is the Pride in collusion with felons, criminals and the ethically challenged? The people responsible of course didn’t do time, so somehow they must be less guilty. I guess there is a certain Pride in not doing prison time. As someone who has, trust me, this one I can speak the truth to power on this one.

#NYCPride and #Stonewall50 sponsor Virgin Airlines only recently stopped helping the British government with forced deportations, after a long protest campaign by LGBTQI groups.

I guess there is a certain Pride in knowing that some of these truly awful events happened in places halfway around the world and not in your backyard. And of course, there must be a certain Pride in knowing that these heinous acts are also happening to the poor and people of color, correct?

I guess there is a certain Pride in attempting to diminish the damage they do, somewhat like a battered spouse who is certain that their partner is misunderstood, is really good hearted inside and that this was a one time thing the assaulted can forgive. Until said abuser kills them.

#NYCPride and #Stonewall50 sponsor Wells Fargo has been involved in so many fraud and discrimination scandals recently we could devote a whole book to them.

Some of them will probably lie and say they weren’t aware of human rights violations of every conceivable stripe. They make excuses such as “how are we gonna pay for the events without this money”? And many of them will not care, at least until it happens to them.

I guess there is a certain Pride in throwing someone else under the bus instead of it being you this time. Buses are big and can really cause a great deal of damage to you physically. 

Also guessing there is a certain Pride in this kind of community exploitation, since so many other LGBTQI events around the world are following NYC’s lead and doing just the same. I would love to be a part of the NYC Pride Human Rights Conference. (I know, it would be funny if it didn’t sound so absurd.) Here is a link to it: I want to see the speakers attempt to nervously answer questions about why NYC Pride took this money. No, seriously.

#NYCPride and #Stonewall50 sponsor recently settled a foreign bribery case. This is of course after the fines for being partially responsible for the housing collapse and other fraud.

Pride is important. Incredibly important. It used to be a safe space from people like the sponsors of this event and acts they engage in. A place where you honestly felt like for a moment, someone actually had your back and was going to see your value as a person, not as a marketing opportunity for exploiters. Pride was once a place where the voices of dispossessed populations could stand up and educate others about the forces of money, power and greed that literally wanted us dead. (They almost succeeded in the 1980’s during the AIDS Crisis. I know, because I was there, and almost didn’t make it myself.)

Oddly, this kind of attitude, complacency, denial and privilege is often directed toward Trump supporters from the LGBTQI community. But because it comes wrapped in a rainbow flag, it is somehow OK. Our Queer leaders wouldn’t get into bed with some of the very same organizations that have caused harm against us, correct?

…what I mean when I talk about gaystreaming…

Think it is still unfair that Trump isn’t being indicted? Hell, I do. I also think it’s unfair that many of these who engaged in these horrible illegal acts are also still walking free while many others suffer and will continue to suffer for the misdeeds of greedy sociopaths who want you, in fact they need you, to look the other way. 

This double talk and acting like your oppressors is what I mean when I talk about gaystreaming. You point the finger at someone else and end up being just like them, because you really, at the core, you want not equality and fairness, but a truly ugly desire for revenge using a system that made you the bottom of the barrel. Because honestly, why would anyone in their right mind engage in this type of moral bankruptcy and say yes to associating with organizations that hurt people, families and whole communities without shame or remorse?

I guess there is certain Pride in getting what you have been denied and a certain Pride in exploitative vanity. I know NYC Pride and Stonewall 50 didn’t invent the concept, but damn, it seems they will have a lock on the market with it in June.

The Stonewall Riots weren’t the only noise in 1969. The MC5 (l-r Fred “Sonic” Smith, Dennis “Machine Gun” Thompson, Rob Tyner, Wayne Kramer and Michael Davis). Photo by Leni Sinclair/Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images.

A warning to the LGBTQI community: Some of you believe President Trump is our biggest problem. To give this some perspective, here are the words The MC5, a band of revolutionaries, targeted by the FBI for subversive activity and radical politics. They released their debut album in the year of the Stonewall riots:

“Brothers and sisters, the time has come for each and every one of you to decide whether you are gonna be the problem or whether you are gonna be the solution…It takes five seconds, five seconds of decision, five seconds to realize your purpose here on the planet .”

If that sounds far too simple, guess what? The decision truly is. If you’re still waffling or making excuses, that post you made on social media about recognizing your privilege is even more laughable now.

Love to you all.

Ben “Bear” Brown Jr.

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