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Corporate sponsorships of LGBT pride parades on the rise

Friday, June 27, 2014
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In this June 8, 2014, photo, workers carry an eBay banner during the gay pride parade, in Salt Lake City. Rick Bowmer, AP

In this June 8, 2014, photo, workers carry an eBay banner during the gay pride parade, in Salt Lake City.

In Boston, more businesses sponsor each year, leading to $143,000 in cash donations this year, a rise over recent years, but still less than the $186,000 in 2004, when there were fewer sponsors but larger donations, said Sylvain Bruni of Boston Pride, a group that organizes the parade.

TD Bank has been sponsoring gay pride parades and festivals in various cities since 2009. The company said it spends nearly $1 million annually on LGBT events and initiatives in the U.S. and Canada. This year, the company is sponsoring 20 gay pride parades.

“Having corporate sponsors out there at the forefront and seeing them provides greater opportunity and visibility to get the message out that it’s OK to be gay,” said Robert Pompey, a senior vice president and co-chair of TD Bank’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Allies panel.

Wal-Mart is joining in, too, sponsoring the New York parade — a decision made by stores in New Jersey, said spokesman Randy Hargrove.

The uptick in support comes as corporations increasingly display their backing for gay rights on social media and in ad campaigns.

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Marriott International put pictures of well-known LGBT spokespeople wrapped around hotels in its #LoveTravels campaign. Macy’s is selling T-shirts, hats and accessories with the slogan, “I stand on the right side of history” with sales going to help make gay marriage legal.

Some long-time festival-goers have bristled at how mainstream and corporate the parades have become, but Nick Morris of Utah said he welcomed them because the corporations are showing acceptance of the gay community.

“We need to be open and willing to accept them as they’ve accepted us,” he said.

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