Rainbow Washing

What does Rainbow Washing mean?

Pretending to support LGBTQ rights for financial gain

Rainbow washing is all about businesses using LGBTQ-related rainbow imagery to look more progressive and make profits. This is mostly seen during Pride month, in June, when companies produce and sell items like rainbow-colored t-shirts, but don’t actually contribute to supporting the LGBTQ community.

It’s a spin-off from other terms like greenwashing and whitewashing. Rainbow washing started getting popular in June 2022, especially when LGBTQ advocates started calling out companies for profiting off Pride month without actually supporting the cause.

In some extreme cases, companies that claim to be “woke” have been known to donate large sums of money to politicians who are actually against LGBTQ rights, all while pretending to be supportive allies. This kind of behavior is also referred to as virtue signaling and performative allyship, where actions are done more for show rather than genuine support.

Example for using ‘Rainbow Washing’ in a conversation

Hey, did you see that new company selling rainbow t-shirts for Pride month?

Yeah, I saw them. But I heard they’re just rainbow washing.

What does that mean?

It means they’re using the rainbow colors to make money, but they don’t actually support the LGBTQ community.