Life

The VillageQ UnShopping Guide

VillageQ unshopping guideWith the winter holidays on the horizon and non-stop reminders to buy and give, I planned to put together VillageQ Guide to Holiday Shopping, highlighting corporations and brands that deserve the support of LGBTQ families.

The truth is, though, that’s an awfully tough thing to do.

As LGBTQ people, many of us are concerned with companies’ stances on workplace equality – how they stand up when it comes to issues like non-discrimination protections, domestic partner benefits, diversity on the job, and transgender-inclusive healthcare. These are all important things and many corporations have come a long way in prioritizing and advancing these kinds of policies to ensure that LGBTQ workers are treated fairly at work. The Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index and accompanying Buyer’s Guide ranks companies based on these factors to help you decide where you’d like to spend your money. HRC even supports a smartphone app and provides mobile support – you can text them a company or product name to find out where they stand on LGBTQ workplace equality.

But many of us believe a number of other factors are equally important when thinking about the kinds of businesses to support. How do they interact with local communities? Where do they stand on other issues that might be important to our families? Where do they spend their lobbying hours and dollars? To what organizations do they donate? How do they treat their workers?

Maybe I should have left this as a fluff holiday shopping piece.

But seriously, I didn’t feel like I could leave you with just somebody else’s guide suggesting that shopping at places like Wal-Mart or McDonald’s would be good for our community. I don’t want to bring you all down and ruin the holiday spirit by talking about how many of the companies that receive high marks from HRC are trying their darndest to keep wages low, to prevent people from receiving access to healthcare or paid time off, and dodging taxes that could be going to help our communities, all while the nation, and LGBTQ people specifically, are facing high rates of unemployment and poverty.

But I can offer a few ideas about gift-giving this season:

1. Make and bakes as many gifts as possible.

This side-steps the “oh-no-where-in-the-world-is-an-ok-place-to-shop” question and allows the kids to be more involved than they would be if we were strolling store aisles. It also makes gifts more personal and is frequently a more affordable gift-giving option.

2. Give experiences.

You can give tickets to shows and memberships to museums and galleries. You can also arrange date nights with your significant other or afternoon dates with your kids.

3. Donate in someone’s honor.

This Wishlist from Moms United and Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers lets you purchase gifts for incarcerated moms to give to their children. Last year, VillageQ highlighted a some of our contributors’ favorite charities which are worthy causes as well.

4. If you shop inside a store, think about your values and do your research.

How, when, and where we spend our money is a personal decision and one that is complicated. When it comes to supporting businesses that support us, we are often faced with choosing the lesser of two evils. Is it more important that a company offers transgender healthcare to folks who have been suffering without such benefits, or that it pays its workers so little they can’t keep their heat on?

Here is a list of major retailers who did not force workers to work on Thanksgiving day. Consult the HRC Buyer’s Guide. But more than that, be a mindful consumer and look into the politics of the places where you spend money and make informed decisions.

I guess if I could, I’d put “a more fair and responsible corporate America” on my wishlist.

FEATURE PHOTO CREDIT: PAPER SOURCE

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