🏳️‍🌈 Our Corporate Allies Haven’t Always Been our Allies

During Pride Month, major companies wrap themselves in rainbows, march in parades, and proclaim their commitment to equal rights. This hasn’t always been the case.

There are many stories of companies discriminating against LGBTQ people in the past. Let’s look at one infamous company.

In the ’80s, Delta Airlines gained a reputation for discriminating against gay men. In 1985, the company prohibited anyone with HIV or AIDS from flying with them. (Delta eventually backed down and apologized.)

In 1987, after a deadly crash, the airline claimed in court that it shouldn’t have to compensate the full amount for one of the passengers killed because, since he was gay, he probably had AIDS. That is, they claimed, he wouldn’t have lived as long as the other dead passengers. (Delta eventually backed down and apologized.)

Also, in 1987, on a flight filled with people returning from the Lesbian and Gay March on Washington, the flight crew put on rubber gloves when they collected items from any men and women who appeared to be gay or lesbian. This was reported, ironically, by two straight men. (Delta eventually … you see the pattern, right?)

Delta’s bigotry was reported in the Washington Post. You can see the article from 1987 here.

Things are much different today. In fact, Delta gets a perfect 100 score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. It’s a reminder of how quickly Corporate America went from being our enemies to our friends — and a reminder that even the most repulsive people can redeem themselves.