On June 28, 1969, the Stonewall riots sparked a movement that led to the modern LGBT pride movement today. To commemorate that event, the month of June was chosen as LGBT Pride Month.
To commemorate that month, the Democratic candidates released Pride-themed merch and flooded ads into my inbox, and I began to wonder… who had the best merch?
UPDATED: June 13, 2019
I’ve gone through every candidate’s online store (not through an email link!) and checked out their Pride merchandise. I gave them up to 1 point for each of the following:
- Existence of Pride merch
- Separate Pride-themed page for easy access to Pride merch
- Pride-specific designs that are more than a recoloring of the logo or the addition of a Pride flag.
- Was the Philadelphia Pride Flag, with the black and brown stripes, used?
- Was the Transgender Pride Flag used?
- Was the Bisexual Pride Flag used?
- Was there anything extra to commemorate Pride month?
- If I supported the candidate, would I buy it? (the most subjective)
Then, because I am clearly a masochist, I added the Republican candidates to the pool, just because equal representation should not be a Democratic-only value.
I’ve included a single image from each shop that I felt was most indicative of the type of merch available, and linked to that store entry in the caption.
How did someone manage to get negative points in this match-up? Simple: They didn’t have a store at all. 4 Democrats and 1 Republican fell into this category.
- Bill de Blasio
- Steve Bullock
- Mike Gravel
- Wayne Messam
- Bill Weld
Having a store but no Pride merch got you at least one step above rock bottom. 7 Democrats didn’t pull their Pride together in time for Pride month:
Michael Bennet(updated 6/13/19)
- John Delaney
- Tulsi Gabbard
- John Hickenlooper
- Tim Ryan
- Eric Swalwell
- Marianne Williamson
All it took to get on the board was to have at least 1 item in the shop with the word “Pride” in the description. 2 Democrats and 1 Republican pulled this together.
Jay Inslee really went all-out, and I went heavy on the sarcasm. He swapped his usual blue/green semicircle for a rainbow and slapped it on t-shirts, tote bags, and buttons. While it was nice that his existing logo worked well with the rainbow theme, I didn’t feel like it really said anything about Inslee’s approach to LGBTQ+ rights.
Andrew Yang had his Pride merch as “New Arrivals” at the top of his page, but there was no theme or collection page gathering them together. He has a t-shirt, a sticker pack, and a button pack. The t-shirt was actually the least inspiring of his Pride merch with just a standard Pride flag tacked on to the end of his Humanity First motto. His stickers are all variants of the Humanity First button, with the Pride stripes filling either words (Humanity First or MATH) or his Yang logo. These buttons were the most exciting and even that is using the E-word liberally.
Donald Trump managed to make it on the list by having Pride merchandise, or at least claiming to have it. He has two listings for the same shirt, one “worn” by a woman and one by a man, plus a red MAGA hat with the logo in rainbow embroidery. Neither shirt looks like an actual product photo, with the letters photoshopped across the rather reluctant-seeming models’ chests. The MAGA hat, at least, looks like one might exist in a photography studio somewhere.
2 Democrats had Pride gear on a Pride page and both… well, they made an attempt to make Pride-specific designs. Technically. I gave them each half a point for the effort.
Seth Moulton put his last name in a spread of rainbow colors and added “FOR LGBTQ” in the middle of his logo. Those two words are technically an addition that is more than rainbow or slapping on a flag, but man, I was not happy to give Moulton any extra points for that bare minimum of effort. He slapped this design on t-shirts and stickers and called it a day.
Beto O’Rourke went Pride-wild with 2 very different designs for his Pride merch of stickers, t-shirts, buttons, totes, and tanks. Unfortunately for O’Rourke, the first design took his standard logo and just slapped some Pride flags on it. The logo shown above is technically different from his “Beto for America” secondary-style logo in that it says “Everyone” instead of “America” and it has a heart instead of a period. Technically, it’s different. That order of the rainbow is upsetting me, though. Red and purple do not go in the middle!
Bernie Sanders failed to come up with anything unique Pride-wise. He slapped a rainbow gradient onto his name for half his Pride gear and slapped the Philadelphia Pride flag beneath his name for the other half. Technically, he used a brown star for the pictured gradient, so he used the Philadelphia Pride flag on both logos. That’s what earned him a full point and put him above the two candidates above who at least tried to get a little creative.
UPDATED: JUNE 13, 2019
Michael Bennet joined the Pride game late, but he did eventually join. His Pride material consists of the above-pictured transgender Pride stickers, and then stickers, shirts, and a tote all bearing his logo either done in a Philadelphia Pride flag rainbow gradient or on top of such a gradient. Like Sanders, there was minimal creativity involved.
With Pride merch on its own page, with its own unique designs, and with the Philadelphia Pride flag, the following 2 Democrats each earned 4 Pride points. They each earned a different half point.
Kamala Harris spelled out her name in the standard 6 rainbow colors and spelled out “Fearless” in the Philadelphia Pride flag 8 colors. These designs were both available on buttons, bumper stickers, t-shirts, tanks, baseball caps, totes, and iron-on patches. The above patch is one that I stopped and actually considered if I’d buy it. I like the message and I like the design. Ultimately, I don’t think I would, but it actually made me think, so I gave Harris half a point.
Amy Klobuchar had 4 different Pride themes. One was her standard logo, but with “Amy” in the Philadelphia Pride flag colors, available on t-shirts, buttons, and stickers. “Equality for All,” shown above, was available on totes, tanks, and t-shirts. Klobuchar also had tanks and t-shirts with just the word “Equality” in rainbow letters and with “Igualdad” in rainbow letters. As Igualdad is Spanish for Equality, I gave Klobuchar half a point for additional forms of inclusivity.
From this point on, every candidate had Pride merch on its own page with its own designs that I decided I would both buy and wear/use. The variations came with what Pride flags they chose to include. 3 Democrats used the standard 6-color Pride flag but included the Transgender Pride flag.
Joe Biden had designs that varied from changing his red-striped E in his logos to the Pride stripes, both Biden President and Joe 2020 versions, available on t-shirts, bumper stickers, and buttons. He also had a Transgender-striped E variation for Joe 2020 as a t-shirt and a design that said PRIDE with a Pride-flag-striped E as t-shirts and tanks. He took the Pride-striped E and made it a full-shirt-sized logo with LOVE EACH OTHER, one word in each stripe, as a tank, and then he went all-out in creating a Pride-striped three-layered Aviator tank as seen above. I love it in its subtlety: it doesn’t scream it’s a campaign t-shirt, but those who know will know.
Julian Castro painted over his profile portrait logo in both Pride colors and the blue and pink of the Transgender Pride for t-shirts. He also made a Julian 2020 sticker with his name and multiple drop shadows outlined in the Pride colors. My favorites would be the “Hey, y’all” t-shirts, as shown above, available in both Transgender Pride and standard Pride colors. There is a little hiccup: the ALL in the Transgender Pride flag colors doesn’t have the correct order of stripes, but if O’Rourke can make purple the middle of the rainbow, Castro can just use the colors.
Elizabeth Warren used her normal slogan of “Nevertheless we persist” to make tone-appropriate Pride merch. She has t-shirts and tanks with the “Nevertheless” and “Dream Big” designs above, as well as one with her normal last-name slogan but with the mint-green bar done as a rainbow. All three designs styles above in the standard Pride colors are available as totes, and these five are stickers. I’d be hard-pressed to choose just one of the above designs that I like the most!
2 Democrats went above and beyond just including the Transgender Pride flag in their merchandise for Pride month.
Cory Booker chose to include the Philadelphia Pride flag colors in his Pride designs as well as the Transgender Pride flag colors. He used this grid design for the standard Pride colors as well as a version with Cory 2020 only twice, once in blue and once in pink for the Transgender Pride flag colors. These are available as t-shirts and tanks. He has buttons and stickers with Cory 2020 in both the standard and Transgender Pride colors and a baseball cap with the standard Pride colors. In addition, he has t-shirts saying “Justice for All” in both standard and Transgender Pride colors, with each letter a different color (or alternating). The Pride grid pattern really pets my inner designer the right way. If I was supporting Cory, that’s the shirt I’d buy.
Kirsten Gillibrand has two slogans/designs for her Pride collection. Brave + Proud is available as t-shirts and stickers. Proud is written in standard rainbow gradient (if you don’t have six letters to work with, you do what you have to) or in the colors of the Transgender Pride flag or the Bisexual Pride flag. Gillibrand is the only campaign that made anything with the Bisexual Pride flag, which I found an interesting choice. The Bisexual Pride colors are not available as stickers. She also included Love is Brave in a rainbow gradient as t-shirts, tanks, and stickers. In addition, she has a “Fight like Hell” tank on her Pride page, though it’s black with a pink Hell and there is no mention of Pride or the rainbow anywhere. I’m wondering if it’s a mistake. With Gillibrand, like with Biden, I really like the subtlety of the branding. It’s not obvious at a glance that it’s a campaign shirt, and I’d probably buy one of the Brave + Proud shirts if I supported Gillibrand.
Pete Buttigieg came in top among all of the candidates with 7 out of 8 possible points. As the gay candidate, this was expected of him, but what put him over the top was something any other candidate could have done but didn’t:
This merchandise is available for a limited time only as we celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month in June and honor the history of the fight for LGBTQ equality. As part of our commemoration, we will be donating all proceeds from our Stonewall merchandise to organizations working to advance the rights of transgender people across America.From the Pete for America store Pride page
Buttigieg is using Pride month and Pride merch to do something that helps the people Pride month is actually about. He is the only candidate who did something extra to commemorate Pride month, even if it was as simple as explain it. That’s not something that requires being part of the LGBTQ+ community to do.
As far as actual merch goes, most of Buttigieg’s designs pictured above are available in a variety of t-shirts and tanks, as well as a t-shirt that says “Win the Era” above the Pete Pride Bridge logo and a t-shirt with “Pride” in rainbow stripes followed by “For Pete” in black. The Pride heart, Pride White House, and colored-letter “Win the Era” are only available in this temporary tattoo pack. He has a set of Pride rally signs with standard and Transgender Pride Pete logos and LGBTQ+ for Pete on the rainbow background. The Boot Edge Edge design is available as a tote and in a sticker pack. The Pete 2020 Pride Bridge logo is available as a bumper sticker, and the standard and Transgender Pride and Stonewall Fifty design are available as buttons.
The candidates who did provide Pride merchandise at the start of June did a decent job overall. Some were better than others, and some were much better than others. The overall rankings are as follows:
- 7/8: Pete Buttigieg
- 6/8: Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker
- 5/8: Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro, Joe Biden
- 4.5/8: Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris
- 3/8: Bernie Sanders, Michael Bennet (added 6/23)
- 2.5/8: Beto O’Rourke, Seth Moulton
- 1/8: Andrew Yang, Jay Inslee, Donald Trump
- 0/8: Marianne Williamson, Eric Swalwell, Tim Ryan, John Hickenlooper, Tulsi Gabbard, John Delaney,
- -1/8: Bill Weld, Wayne Messam, Mike Gravel, Steve Bullock, Bill de Blasio