June was Pride month, and it saw a host of restaurants such as Chipotle and Shake Shack come out in support of LGBTQ rights by creating rainbow-themed merchandise and donating proceeds to charities such as the Trevor Project. These were not one-off stunts either, with many restaurants having long-term relationships with these charities and having publicly expressed the belief that this was a good way to support their workforce and customers.
It wasn’t as simple as having a rainbow-colored shake for the month, either. Fresh&co created three dishes, the Love Salad, rainbow bagels, and the Rainbow Salad, and donated 20% of the proceeds from these items to NYC Pride, a charity that puts on various Pride Week events and was going all out to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The director of marketing said that they had to limit the number of charities they support, and this seemed to be the year to support NYC Pride.
Other restaurants had been showing support all along, but took June as an opportunity to show their colors. Sweetgreen has been partnering with Covenant House, an LA charity that provides housing and job opportunities for LGBTQ youth, for years now. This is the first year that the company went nationwide with a fundraiser to get $125,000 for Covenant House. The director of social inclusion, Kirby Bumpus, said that he was proud to be associated with Covenant House, and other heads of the company said that they felt it was just the right thing to do.
It’s fitting that restaurants should be enthusiastic about LGBTQ rights since it was riots in cafeterias and bars, the Compton cafeteria in San Francisco and Stonewall Inn in New York, that truly kicked off the movement in the US. There were attempts in other places before- a guy named Gerber set up a human rights group in Chicago after coming home from Germany, where there was a thriving movement to get homosexuality accepted in the 1920’s, for instance. These didn’t have the same level of support that people have now though. These days, according to a recent Pew Research poll, 61% of Americans support same-sex marriage and 30% of Americans respond positively LGBTQ content in advertisements. We’ve come a long way since the Stonewall riots of 50 years ago, and restaurants are still a part of the movement.