Wickes: Hardware store not backing down on inclusive Pride message despite homophobic and transphobic backlash online

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TW: We’re going to include, at the bottom of this article, some social media commentary which some may find upsetting. Many of the posts will be offensive. We feel it’s important to share them, to properly illustrate the reality of a brazen prejudice still very present in our society. If you feel it might be distressing, please stop before you get to the bottom of the article. No one’s opinion is worth ruining your day or mood over.

Hardware and DIY store Wickes face backlash for supporting trans rights at LGBT+ Pride in Brighton. Some people have a problem with the idea of equality.

 

Wickes showed up at Brighton Pride this past weekend (August 6), with a sponsored float which, in a break from traditional corporate rainbow-washing, actually carried a powerful and important message.

 

Despite corporate association with Pride events being quite common in 2022 – in equal measure because it can be lucrative to get involved and because it can be damaging to not – rarely is it ever done with any hint of activism or a productive message.

 

So imagine our surprise when hardware store Wickes rocked up to Brighton Pride 2022 with a float which said BAN CONVERSION THERAPY and NO LGB WITHOUT THE T.

Two very important, very relevant issues the LGBTQ+ community in the UK currently face.

 

 

It wasn’t Wickes’ first time being involved with Pride (in fact its had floats since 2014), nor is it the only social cause they get involved in (actually there is quite a few), with the company also running a ‘Let’s do it with Pride‘ colleague network, which is “dedicated to celebrating and providing support with the aim to create a positive environment which allows colleagues to reach their full potential, together with attracting more diverse colleagues and customers”.

 

But for some reason this year, this issue – it went viral.

 

Maybe it’s because 2022 is the first year back for London and Brighton Pride since the pandemic put both on a two year hiatus.

Or maybe – almost certainly – it’s the fact that, in that time, anti-trans rhetoric online and from various organisations in the UK has become a hot topic and an aggressively toxic debate, containing a lot of misleading optics for anyone not paying particularly close attention to digest.

 

Trans people and their entire existence has been under attack on Twitter almost daily for months now, with a relatively small but violently loud section of people doing everything in their power to try and dismantle the already small amount of freedoms and access to care trans people – HUMAN PEOPLE – can currently lay claim to.

 

The messaging in “Ban Conversion Therapy For All”, brilliantly took aim aim at the Government’s terrible handling and eventual withdrawal of a long-promised full ban on conversion therapy for all LGBTQ+ people.

 

With far-right public figures and so-called “gender critical” campaigners online sat at home foaming at the mouth waiting for anything at all that can be weaponised as an excuse to jump on trans people and vomit transphobia dressed up as feminism to their feed rarely missing a beat when trans issues are raised or trending, it was inevitable that it would become a talking point. And boy oh boy, it did.

 

Wickes’ social media manager took to Twitter to share a photo of the float and wrote: “Proud to take part in @PrideBrighton this weekend to celebrate their 30th year, and even prouder of our LGBTQ+ Network who work hard every day to make sure everyone can feel at home at Wickes.”

 

 

The post, along with others shared by pleasantly surprised attendees at the parade, initially received an overwhelmingly positive response from LGBTQ+ folk, with the important messaging leaving a lasting impression on those who saw it.

READ:  Conservatives lose their shit over purple M&M because they think it's LGBT+

 

 

It wasn’t long though until the inevitable backlash came.

 

Still, the company remained resilient and defiant about its message, with Wickes’ COO, Fraser Longden, posting “It’s not just the people at Wickes who are Allies, Wickes is an Ally to our whole LGBTQ+ community of customers and colleagues.”

 

Adding, “I support, encourage and believe in our messaging on this. Conversion therapy should be banned for all and the trans community is valid. Nothing brave about this, just saying the blinking
obvious.”

 

 

Before we get to the bad comments and trolling, it should be said that there was a lot of support for Wickes on social media. Here are a couple of the more positive posts.

 

 

So, as you can see, it wasn’t all bad. However the backlash Wickes received was equally severe and relentless, so it’s important to note the risk corporations still take and open themselves up to by attaching themselves to issues that actually matter in our community.

 

We wanted more meaningful action from corporations, we got some (which was, frankly, rather subtle), and as a result they became the victim online trolling, social media pile-ons, and a cancel campaign – with some people literally petitioning for their closure.

 

Okay, here we go. Just some of the thousands of abusive posts Wickes received (many of which were probably from people who don’t even shop there anyway)…

(If you’re a glutton for punishment and would like to see more, just Twitter search Wickes Pride or click here).

 

OF COURSE anti-trans lobby group “The LGB Alliance” was straight in there, missing the point entirely (it was literally an LGBTQ+ Pride event), saying: “We must assume that Wickes have not understood the significance of this slogan. They cannot seriously believe that lesbians, gay men and bisexuals may not organise in our own interests without the permission of trans people.”

 


One of its founders, Allison Bailey, was also quick to condemn Wickes’ show of support for equality.

 

Last month, Bailey lost a legal claim she had brought against LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall, specifically it’s ‘Diversity Champions Scheme’ – to which Wickes is a proud subscriber – which works to help LGBTQ+ employees feel safe and understood in their place of work.

So that may explain some things.

 

Here is just a small selection of some other comments and we have tried to not include anything too dark. Of which there were many. 

 

 

 

READ:  Conservatives lose their shit over purple M&M because they think it's LGBT+

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