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UvA shows with Pride University that Pride is not just a party

Published on 24-08-2022
Pride Amsterdam took place in the first week of August. Under the name ‘Pride University’, UvA Pride joined forces with HVA Pride, VU Pride and Inholland Pride to represent the educational institutions during Pride week. Together, they organised activities such as Pride University, which included a talk on pinkwashing hosted by UvA Pride on the 5th of August.
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The talk was given by Anna Berbers, an UvA lecturer on Corporate Communication in the Communication Science programme at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences.

This was the second year that Pride University organised Pride Hotel. ‘The education and research institutions felt it was important to organise academically relevant events for Pride, with a focus on education concerning LGBTQIA+ topics,’ says UvA Pride organiser Jesper van de Vooren. And judging by the large turnout, there was plenty of interest as well. Everyone was welcome to sign up – staff and students alike.

Anna Berbers
Anna Berbers

UvA Pride turned the spotlight over to UvA colleague Anna Berbers so that she could talk about her research into the phenomenon known as pinkwashing. Pinkwashing happens when businesses express their support for the LGBTQIA+ community in order to improve their image, such as by putting Pride colours on their logo or selling Pride-coloured editions of their products, without actually doing anything to promote positive change. Berbers explains, ‘This subject is really close to my heart. All around us, we hear more and more people saying that the battle for LGBTQIA+ rights has already been won – but that's not at all how it feels to the community itself.’ Berbers also notes that increasing polarisation is widening the gap between those with conservative and progressive beliefs. Still, she remains hopeful. ‘When corporate campaigns go hand-in-hand with promoting the interests of LGBTQIA+ themes, that gap will hopefully shrink over time,’ according to Berbers.

While everyone agrees on the definition of pinkwashing, and it seems easy enough to spot, the examples Berbers provided make it clear that the matter is not always so straightforward. A lively debate emerged with regard to questions such as what counts as pinkwashing, and is pinkwashing always a bad thing? For example, the group talked about Doritos’ Rainbow chips. In honour of Pride, the brand released a special rainbow edition. To be able to buy the chips, consumers had to make a donation to the It Gets Better project, a non-profit organisation that strives to connect and promote the rights of LGBTQIA+ youth around the world. The widely-held opinion was that this counted as pinkwashing. ‘Doritos is asking consumers to make a donation, while donating absolutely nothing themselves.’ Others were less quick to arrive at that conclusion: ‘Even though they don't donate to the cause themselves, they're still using their platform and their market to raise money for a good cause.’ The discussion showed that not everyone in the LGBTQIA+ community sees the issue the same way. While the subject is naturally one that many people who identify as LGBTQIA+ feel quite strongly about, the discussion was conducted respectfully and with curiosity for other people’s opinions, thanks to the safe space at the Pride Hotel.

UvA Pride was very active in this year's Pride celebrations. ‘We were on the boat during the Canal Parade and took part in the Pride Walk, but the lectures and workshops were a really important element, because also it had a focus on education and raising awareness. We hope to reach a much bigger group of UvA staff and students with our activities in the coming academic year,’ says Jesper van de Vooren. 

Click hereExternal link to rewatch the talk! 

For more information on UvA Pride, visit UvA Pride – University of Amsterdam.External link