The Unfortunate Reason United Is Pulling Out Of The NYC LGBT Pride Parade

Filed Under: Delta, United

June is LGBT Pride Month, so we typically see celebrations around the country, which often include parades.

These events are intended to foster inclusiveness and a sense of community, though unfortunately commercialization at times seems to get in the way of what these events stand for. I get the challenge for organizers — putting on these events isn’t cheap, so they need sponsors, and sponsors want some sort of exclusivity or special placement, or else they perhaps couldn’t justify the spend.

Some of you may remember that last year Alaska and Delta got into a bit of a dispute regarding pride festivities in Seattle. Well, this year Delta and United are in a NYC pride dispute, and it has caused United to pull out of the parade altogether.

It’s my understanding that Delta signed on as a lead sponsor of the event, which prohibits other airlines from having branding in the parade, including banners, flags, signs, posters, handouts, etc. Other airlines can have stuff that has the name of their LGBT group on it, but not the airline’s name. Similarly, they’re not allowed to have a float, and can only march towards the back of the parade (ummmm…)

It’s my understanding that Delta’s original contract with the event prohibited other airlines from marching in the parade, but apparently this violated a law requiring that anyone be allowed to march in a parade. So instead they amended the contract so that it’s super restrictive.

Last year JetBlue apparently got around this restriction by partnering with the New York Gay Men’s Chorus and sponsoring their float, which had JetBlue branding. But Delta wasn’t happy about that, and other airlines were allegedly told that if they attempted to circumvent the rules this year, they would be blocked from marching altogether.

So that’s why United decided to pull out of the parade altogether, rather than having a bad showing. Here’s part of the letter that United’s Chief Diversity Officer sent out to employees regarding this issue:

Unfortunately, we encountered some unforeseen limitations with our participation in the NYC Pride Parade based on rules stipulated by the parade organizers. We have been informed that Delta has airline exclusivity which prohibits United and other airlines from walking with their company logos. We tried very hard to persuade the parade organizers to relax their prohibition but we were unsuccessful. While we truly regret not being able to walk in this year’s parade, this turn of events will not keep us from celebrating.

I don’t want to completely paint Delta as the villain here. If they’re spending a lot of money to support the cause, then it’s not unreasonable that they’d want prime placement, etc. At the same time, it’s sad an event intended to showcase inclusiveness does exactly the opposite.

Delta, shantay, you stay. United, sashay away.

  1. Total BS! No commercial entity should get to dictate what other marchers are doing. Put your logo everywhere..YES, but not stop others from doing the same.

  2. Maybe someone can have a float of dragging someone off a plane and put a United sign up ?

  3. I’m not a huge fan of parades in general. I live a block off the Chicago Pride Parade route and it’s basically a bunch of people from outside the neighborhood who make a ton of noise, spend all day drinking in the blocked streets, get broken glass and other trash all over the neighborhood (which no one associated with the parade makes any effort to clean up) and creating a weekend long crime wave (two weekends long in Chicago, as the weekend before the parade there’s a street festival). If United wants to participate, they should clean up afterwards and put up a big sign saying “This block cleaned of parade debris by United.”

  4. This should be blamed on the parade ownership (organizers). They are the people choosing to allow contacts which exclude people.

  5. Seriously it’s the corporate focus by the organizers of pride parades that have turned many of us off from attending/participating.
    In the old days (70s and 80s) everyone wanted to see as many different groups and companies (all proudly displaying rainbow/pink triangles as well as their corporate logos) because it showed how widespread gay acceptance had become.
    It was NOT a marketing exercise, as current parades have become. SAD


  6. Had this only occurred once, I would let Delta slide. But with two instances I put the blame on them and the responsibility to ensure this does not happen again. Being exclusive at an event about inclusiveness should have set off bells in someone’s head. Shame on the NYC Pride Parade leadership for allowing such a clause in any contract.

  7. It has become pretty clear that Delta now views pride celebrations/events purely as a marketing opportunity and doesn’t understand the core values of inclusiveness and openness and underpin the pride events and the LGBT community. If other companies want to participate and show their support, they should be allowed to do so… perhaps their names and logos shouldn’t be displayed as prominently as the major sponsors, but completely disallowing them to participate as a company defeats the entire purpose of the pride events.

    Next time I am faced with flying from a city serviced by both Delta and United, I will go out of my way to seek United and Alaska airlines rather than purchase tickets from Delta if they are similarly priced (which they usually are, in the NYC market). Shame on delta. Your makeup is terrible.

  8. Another example of the continual irony and hypocrisy of the LGBTQ agenda – in your face if you don’t have acceptance for the agenda/activism, but they don’t have acceptance for everyone else if they don’t want to or it’s not in their self interests. Everyone should be allowed to march, regardless of “brand” or industry.

    How do these organizers “own” the parade? Is their pride unique? Can anyone else have their own parade at the same time, unorganized?

  9. Parade probably didn’t complain when Delta wrote their check … can’t have it both ways. Either refuse to grant exclusivity (and take less money) or grant it and deal with it–nobody forced them to grant it.

  10. Tom hit the nail on the head, Delta is bullying the parade into a corporate marketing tool. It’s really unfortunate they act this way and do not learn anything from past mistakes, as this goes against everything the parade is supposed to stand for.

    BTW, I was rolling after reading the last line LOL!

  11. Strange concept indeed: to celebrate inclusiveness but excluding!

    Both DL and the organizers ought to think about that because it could end up making a mockery of the event if someone decides to shine the light on that clearly “business as usual” facet of the parade…

  12. This is just par for the course for a company like delta. Dirty tactics, sneaky rules, and more arrogance than a trump thanksgiving dinner.

  13. United should promote great deals on getting out of town during Pride. I know many folks (gay and not-so-gay) who’d love that.

  14. Perhaps Delta can have a float with a coffin on it that turns down the wrong street and gets lost for 2 days just like when they lost that poor mans body for 2 days while flying his remains to his funeral in April.

  15. Speaking of pride Benny, when are you going to share your big news?? 😀 Your fans want to hear about it!!

  16. I agree to blame the organizers.
    However, I wonder if other industries are affected. I see from the Heritage of Pride nyc website that T-Mobile is the presenting sponsor. Does that mean Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint won’t be marching either?
    If that’s the case, then I’d put full blame on the organizers for agreeing to add that exclusivity clause for $$$.
    Though United may not be marching this year, they can always offer Heritage of Pride NYC more money than Delta for next year’s event so UA would be marching and DL and other airlines would be shut out.

  17. This is the same BS Delta pulled on Alaska in Seattle last year. It’s fine if you want to be a lead sponsor but to EXCLUDE your competitors from marching under their brand at an event that is, by definition, all about INCLUSIVENESS, is just wrong. Full stop. Delta doesn’t get the reason for Pride. Their participation is actually harmful. If the Pride organizers had any balls, they’d prohibit behavior like this that is completely antithetical to the goals of the event itself.

  18. If they can afford to sponsor this garbage then can reduce the poce of my pane tickets. Private companies have no business sponsoring these things. The are missing away stock holders money and raising prices on customers.
    If companies want better customer relations then they should reduce prices and treat them better. My rise prices to pay for trash

  19. What about HSM pride parade? It stands for hetrosexuals who are married with children and Monks who are not married and practice celibacy. We shall celebrate the pride of family, children and our natural human way of life and our traditions. No we won’t be nude and performing sexual acts in front of public view

  20. Or perhaps Delta won’t find the parade at all.
    Like the Delta flight last year that landed at the wrong airport.

  21. Absolutely disgusting and shameful that these corporate sponsors only see dollar signs and completely forget the spirit of the event they’re supposedly sponsoring. Shame on United and all other homophobic corporations.

  22. The organizers are the greedy ones. They know they can sell the rights to Delta at a higher price if they grant more exclusivity. Sure, Delta wants to have a monopoly on having their name alone being associated with the event, and are willing to pay the extra to get this. They have the leverage, since they are writing the check.

    Do you think they allow Budweiser to be sold at Coors Field? Of course not. Coors pays to have their product advertised and sold, exclusively. On the flip side, there’s no Coors beer at Busch Stadium in St Louis.

  23. “In the old days (70s and 80s) everyone wanted to see as many different groups and companies (all proudly displaying rainbow/pink triangles as well as their corporate logos) because it showed how widespread gay acceptance had become.”

    I may be mis-remembering my pride parade history, but the parades in the 1970s and early 80s were certainly not conducted to show how widespread gay acceptance had become, because gay acceptance had not received widespread acceptance. Crimony, the hoops the parade organizers had to jump through in LA just to get a *permit* is legendary. And I can’t recall any corporate sponsorships then, either. Yes, the first parades had donors and sponsors, but those were pro-gay individuals and organizations (think Mattachine Society); corporations wouldn’t have touched that with a 10-foot pole. Hah, I said “pole.” Anyway, the parades always included elements of fun and camp, but a major element was protest, and the parades were meant to be radical statements as well. A lot of this changed in the 80s (though radical elements were still included, and new ones introduced (think ACT UP)).

    And that’s today’s lesson in LGBTQ parade history.

    Oh, and Delta is out of line.

  24. That last !…. can we get a whoop whoop in here?

    Delta can pander all it wants, but appropriation doesn’t exactly merit CSR.

  25. I was in Seattle last year when Delta pulled this trick. They had just come in strong in the Seattle market and tried to get the Seahawks/Mariners contracts as the “hometown” carrier…while Alaska has been the true hometown carrier for over 30 years. They cut Alaska out of the Pride parade which Alaska had hosted for years and made sure that their employees could not participate with any Alaska branding on. It truly left a bad taste in a lot of Seattlites mouths as it felt forced on us and seemed unethical and shallow to exclude any other businesses who wanted to participate and show support for our LGBTQ community. I truly think it backfired on Delta. Seattle will always be loyal to Alaska. Especially after that trickery!

  26. I lament the fact that these days Pride Parades are very commercialised affairs. Yes I do understand it costs a lot to organise a parade that is large in size bit as you said, Lucky, Parades used to be inclusive of everyone. Not exclusive to commercial partners of political.movments

  27. funny lucky is now so caring about gay rights when he’s the single largest proponent of Qatar Airways anywhere in the blogosphere, which is owned by one of the most anti-gay rich nations

  28. So the LBGT employees of United can’t even march with the logo of their company? That is beyond absurd and the parade organizers should have told Delta to take a hike. That if offensive that Delta has turned this message of acceptance into one of exclusion and discrimination. I could understand some limitations but to make it so you can’t even march with your company logo? Guess Delta is really scared of the competition.

  29. I was once employed by a big company that sponsored a Labor Day picnic.

    The picnic organizers sold sponsorships and the more money you gave, the better the deal.

    My company spent greater than $20k and at that amount, no other company could have any logo displayed larger than a tent sidewall.

    From the organizers’ point of view, that money amount supported an advertising advantage for my company at the exclusion of others.

  30. Yes, let every company march in the parade! Every company should be able to display its logo! For free! A free for all!

    Who needs sponsors? Apparently, not Lucky’s readers!

  31. The organizers should be ashamed of themselves. I wonder if this is the beginning.. gay pride parade it’s about everyone that’s why we have the rainbow colors… what’s next? Prohibiting one group from participating because it’s doesn’t fit the organizers ideas…we part of the LGBTQ community own the rights to the parade not Delta or Jetblue or for that matter the organizers..
    Shame on them

  32. Delta has these exclusivity agreements with practically every city they sponsor. Other airlines have been completely shut out of other markets as well. You would have thought that they (both Delta and other city organizers) would have learned that these aren’t a great idea after Seattle…

    imho, these days, having a company throw their weight behind something like pride is among the ways that they can make an impact. Inclusion and progress in the LGBT arena, especially in today’s political climate, should transcend point of corporate greed and cheap moves like this.

  33. That’s what happens when you solicit from commercial sponsors to raise money, then granting them exclusive contracts. At the Olympics, if you walk into an arena or stadium wearing a Pepsi shirts, you will be approached by officials and be given three options: 1) turn the shirt inside-out; 2) wear another shirt over the offending shirt; 3) be escorted out of the venue if you refuse options 1 or 2. Looks like Delta is doing the same thing here.

  34. I keenly remember in 1985 when Delta Airlines Flight 191, a Lockheed L-1011 wide body crashed just before landing at DFW, supposedly due the pilot’s error of flying directly into a thunderstorm.

    One of the passengers, whose family was not aware he was gay – as he was outed by Delta’s then insurance company wanted to reduce his estates financial settlement supposedly because he had HIV and therefore would not live as long as others on board. The insurance company believed his estate should receive less compensation than the other passengers.

    You can read about this and other outrageous behaviors by Delta in previous years here:

    Delta even had the audacity to ban those with HIV and or A.I.D.S from it’s flights by writing such terms in it’s Contract of Carriage.


  35. “One Mile at a Time” can actually be a perfect slogan for a LGBT Parade. Lucky, why don’t you organize one, and invite all the airlines and credit card issuers to sponsor fair & square?
    Seriously, it’s time to get involve with charitable work…

  36. If the point of the event is to celebrate being accepting of others and inclusiveness shouldn’t they….I dunno be inclusive and allow all those that want to support the cause participate? I get the need for sponsors but IMO Delta does themselves a disservice here, if they really cared and wanted to raise awareness about gay rights they would do so without stipulating that their “support” was contingent upon others in their industry not participating. As it stands they aren’t supporting the cause, they are looking to capitalize on a marketing opportunity and its quite right that their motives are questioned. It seems to me that DLs “support” is directly tied to their bottom line due to gay people, and especially gay couples (DINK), having more money to spend on travel and not principle.

  37. @Sam
    “What about HSM pride parade? It stands for hetrosexuals who are married with children and Monks who are not married and practice celibacy. We shall celebrate the pride of family, children and our natural human way of life and our traditions. No we won’t be nude and performing sexual acts in front of public view”

    Can I just say your event sounds really, really dull? As well as badly written.

    I’m with TravelinWilly. Gay Pride used to be vaguely anarchic protests to demand equality and basic human rights. In the UK, at least, Gay Pride is now a tame celebration of vacuous commercialism – an opportunity for big corporates to sprinkle a bit of stardust on their tired old brands by associating themselves with fabulousness.

    World Naked Bike Ride is the closest thing now to “original” Gay Pride – anarchic, fun, and celebrating in a slightly shocking way.

  38. When Delta and the parade organizers pulled this shit here in Seattle last year it blew back on them HARD. They eventually retreated and allowed any airline to participate due to the huge negative backlash (which was amazing since they were trying to build goodwill here by beating down the hometown airline). It helped that Alaska is a beloved hometown airline here…I’m not sure the same swell of support will go out to United, though it should on principle.

  39. That’s sad, I get why delta is trying to be exclusive, but as an LGBTQ member, we need all the supporters we can get! It’s a shame…

  40. While I may not agree with it, it’s just another marketing/sponsorship that grants exclusivity to one brand paying the big bucks.

    Same thing happened here at the Sydney Mardi Gras. I work in financial services and the ANZ bank is the principal sponsor of Mardi Gras, so we couldn’t have our own float as we’re competition.

  41. Just yet another reason I won’t fly Delta. In the past, many have defended Delta as it’s within their right because it’s ‘just business’. ‘Just business’ does not mean it’s ethical, or right. Delta’s actions fly in the face of everything that PRIDE stands for. Delta is a self-serving organization that wants to exclude others, rather than compete on their own merits. Cowardly. PRIDE organizers should look inward first, then tear up the contract and tell Delta they can be a participant, like all of the other airlines.

    Agree with an early comment that PRIDE events have become too corporate.

  42. We’ll be there (We = American Airlines) but in a very restricted capacity. But who cares, so happy and proud to participate!

  43. It’s a sham pride parade organizers have gotten so political with exclusivity. If they were smart they could have upped the fee and had both airlines split the cost, thus giving both a chance and more revenue. What they’ve done now could alienate future sponsors.

    Off topic. We still have along way to further inclusiveness and does nothing to further the cause by adding another letter to LGBTQ. What letter of the alphabet is next. Why not just leave it as the LG community.

  44. Shame on United for refusing to participate because they can’t show their logo! DL paid more money for a sponsorship, if it was really that important then they should of upped their bid. If I paid for a parking spot I wouldn’t expect to share it with another car.

  45. This falls 100% on the NYC Pride organization. They’ve turned the march into a corporate F Fest. They demand this exclusivity in their contracts and then they sue for the slightest violations. It’s sad United Airlines employees and Jet Blue employees can’t march with their companies this year all because the non-profit organizers need more money.

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