Celebrating Pride: Insights and Advice from Campfire Consulting’s Director of Impact

By Campfire

In honor of Pride Month, we sat down with Campfire’s Director of Impact Benn Marine to discuss the significance of Pride, the challenges and triumphs of being a trans individual in today’s world, and how businesses can genuinely support and uplift the LGBTQ+ community. With years of experience in advocacy and impact consulting, Benn shares valuable insights and practical advice on fostering inclusivity, avoiding performance activism, and making a real difference through meaningful actions.

Q: How do you celebrate Pride Month, and what significance does it hold for you?

A: For me, Pride is protest. I do a lot of deep reflecting on the journey of the queer community and my role within it—honoring our past, assessing our present, and envisioning our collective future. I draw inspiration from the fearlessness of both past and present activists, which rekindles my own passion for advocacy. Pride Month reminds me of the ongoing fight for the right of queer folx to not only exist but to thrive. It’s about standing on the shoulders of giants and continuing the crucial work of community organizing and activism. Mutual aid and connecting with the community are definitely central to my Pride celebrations as well. I tend to seek out intergenerational and intersectional spaces and events to hear the stories of our elders and the next generation, as I believe I have much to learn from both. These opportunities and connections deepen my understanding and commitment to our collective liberation.

Q: How has your experience as a trans individual shaped your approach to the work you do?

A: Before I jump in too deep here, I do want to lift up the fact that I am one person, and that trans and queer identities and experiences are so vast and different, so for our readers please bear that in mind as I share my personal experience, that this is not representative of others as well, rather a singular story in a sea of diversity.

As a trans man who lived the first 30 years of my life perceived as a woman, I’ve experienced firsthand how society’s perceptions of me impact everything from daily interactions to access to opportunities. I didn’t gain passing privilege until I was about 32, so while I am grateful to be seen by the public the same way I see myself, my queer identity often remains invisible. Which in some cases provides me a sense of safety that I am grateful for, and in others I feel unseen. These experiences profoundly shape my approach to work. I understand what it’s like to be misunderstood and unseen, which fuels my empathy and curiosity about others’ lived experiences. I believe that our collective liberations are deeply intertwined, and this belief drives my dedication to building a better tomorrow for all people and our planet. I challenge myself to lean into vulnerability, bringing humility, curiosity, and empathy to the forefront, whether I’m engaging with clients or organizing community events.

Q: What advice do you have for those who seek to be more inclusive and an ally to the LGBTQ+ community?

A: All living things are complex, and humans are no exception. Early in your journey, you might be confused by someone else’s lived experience or the language they use to describe it. In the moment, be a mirror to that language. Use the pronouns and terms they ask you to use, even if you don’t fully understand. Then, begin your own journey of learning.

If you feel the impulse to ask questions, first ask yourself, “Who does this question serve?” If it helps you respect and support the queer people in your life, like asking “What pronouns do you prefer?”, it’s a great question. However, if it’s for your own curiosity, like “What do you mean you’re pansexual?”, it’s better reserved for Google.

Most importantly, remember that outing someone is a form of violence. Don’t share someone’s sexual or gender identity without their consent. In a time when the LGBTQ community is facing increased violence and political attacks, this is crucial. The ACLU is tracking 515 anti-LGBTQ bills in the US, highlighting the urgency of this issue.

“Ally” is a verb; it’s something you do. It means voting for candidates and policies that support our communities, creating space for people to share their pronouns by sharing your own, and telling the people in your life that you love and support them unconditionally.

Q: Can you explain the terms “performance activism” and “rainbow washing”?

A: Performance activism refers to actions by individuals or companies that appear to support a social cause but lack genuine commitment or effort. It’s often about gaining social approval rather than enacting real change. For example, posting about a social issue on social media without further action can be seen as performance activism.

Rainbow washing is performance activism specific to LGBTQ+ issues, where companies use rainbow symbols during Pride Month to signal support without making meaningful contributions. This includes marketing campaigns featuring rainbows while their policies do not genuinely support LGBTQ+ rights.

For example, many breweries release “Pride” beers in June. I check if they donate proceeds to LGBTQ-led organizations. If not, it’s a miss and they lose my support. However, if they partner with an LGBTQ-led org, especially a small local one, I get excited and spread the word, even though I’m not much of a beer drinker!

Q: How can brands avoid looking like they’re rainbow washing but still celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community?

A: To genuinely support the LGBTQ+ community and avoid rainbow washing, brands should focus on three key stakeholders: workers, customers/clients, and the community.

Workers:

  • Ensure inclusive policies and practices, such as trans-inclusive healthcare, non-gendered parental leave, and adoption-inclusive parental leave.
  • Implement broad bereavement policies that recognize the importance of chosen family for many queer people.

Customers/Clients:

  • Provide gender-neutral bathrooms in physical spaces.
  • Include pronouns in email signatures, name tags, and meeting introductions.
  • Make public-facing statements about your commitment to inclusivity and what it means to your organization, then stand by that commitment.

Community:

  • Partner with local LGBTQ+ organizations to provide learning opportunities for workers and customers or to raise funds to support their work.
  • Building meaningful partnerships with community organizations not only supports all three stakeholder groups but also strengthens your organization through the insights and relationships gained.


By addressing these areas, brands can authentically celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community, demonstrating genuine commitment beyond mere symbolism.

Q: What brands or individuals have you specifically noticed meaningfully supporting the LGBTQ+ community — in past Pride Months and/or year-round?

A: I’ve seen many incredible collaborations and allies, which truly fills me with joy. Here are a few that stand out:

Patagonia: Patagonia is known for its strong stance on social justice issues, including LGBTQ+ rights. They’ve implemented inclusive policies for their employees and have actively supported LGBTQ+ organizations. Their advocacy goes beyond just marketing, reflecting a deep commitment to equality and inclusivity.

REI Co-Op : With inclusive policies, and year-round support for LGBTQ+ communities providing $500,000+ in annual support of programs and orgs that support LGBTQ+ people. And for their Pride branded gear, they commission queer artists with each June launching a new artwork that is then available all year round.

Allagash Brewing: Have to give Allagash a shout out, because being an ally to this community extends beyond the month of June. Allagash has been a long-time supporter of EqualityMaine, and came under fire publicly for that support this past February by right-wing media. Rather than walking their support back, they stood with our community in releasing this statement of ongoing support.

Q: Anything else you would like people to know?

A: In a time when division often seems more prevalent than unity, it’s crucial to remember that kindness and empathy can make a tremendous difference. Each of us has the power to create positive change by simply appreciating what makes us different rather than fearing it.

Supporting the LGBTQ+ community—and all marginalized communities—starts with small, everyday actions. Listen actively to the experiences of those around you, educate yourself on issues that affect others, and stand up against injustice when you see it. Your voice and actions matter more than you might realize.

Celebrate diversity in all its forms. Our unique perspectives and experiences make our communities richer and more vibrant. By embracing and uplifting each other, we contribute to a world where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

Remember, allyship is an ongoing journey. It’s about continuous learning, unlearning, and showing up, even when it’s uncomfortable. Your commitment to inclusivity and equity can inspire others and create ripples of positive impact far beyond what you can see.

Together, we can build a future where everyone is valued, respected, and loved for who they are. Let’s move forward with kindness, curiosity, and a steadfast belief in the power of our collective humanity.

Picture of Benn Marine, Director of Social and Environmental Impact

Benn Marine, Director of Social and Environmental Impact

Benn is the Director of Social and Environmental Impact for certified B Corp and 1% for the planet member Dirigo Collective (DBA Campfire Consulting), a marketing and impact consultancy, and hosts their Responsibly Different™ podcast. As a proud transgender man he has dedicated a decade to political field organizing and nonprofit consulting, advocating for progressive causes across the United States—helping to pass critical legislation from marriage equality and non-discrimination to ranked choice voting. He is a B Local Leader in Maine, co-chairs the B Proud network, and is a business advisor for the University of New Hampshire’s B Impact Clinic.

Join us for a LIVE Webinar

Beyond Pride: Authentic Brand Engagement with LGBTQ+ Communities

Wednesday, June 26th @ 12 PM EST

Join us for an in-depth discussion on how businesses can authentically support and uplift the LGBTQ+ community through inclusive marketing and impactful strategies. Our Director of Impact, Benn Marine, will be sharing more insights and practical advice on creating genuine connections and driving meaningful change.

Whether you’re a business owner, marketer, or ally, this webinar is an excellent opportunity to learn how to make a real difference. Sign up today and be part of the conversation!

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