a garland of rainbow flags hangs from a fence outside of a car dealership
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A garland of rainbow flags is seen outside of a car dealership in Stockholm. Credit: Brett Ascarelli / Radio Sweden
portrait of two people in front of rainbow flags
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Linus (left) and Elena don't believe it's enough for a business to wave a rainbow flag, and Elena questions the motives of stores that fly the flag. Credit: Brett Ascarelli / Radio Sweden
portrait of two people wearing glasses
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Anders Olsson Karlbom (left) and Lars-Erik Olsson believe that it is meaningful when companies fly the rainbow flag, because it means they're taking a stance, even if they're not doing anything else to actively support the LGBTIQ cause. Credit: Brett Ascarelli / Radio Sweden
portrait of smiling person in a blue shirt
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Frida Salomonsson, who says she has a lot of gay and lesbian friends, says it would make her more likely patronize businesses that wave the rainbow flag. Credit: Brett Ascarelli / Radio Sweden
rainbow flags fluttering in the wind on top of a big building with a clockface on it
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All sorts of establishments in Stockholm are waving the rainbow flag during Pride, including big department stores like this one. Credit: Brett Ascarelli / Radio Sweden
portrait of smiling person, wearing white, posing in front of a rainbow flag
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Anna Broms is the chef and owner of a Stockholm restaurant which is decked out in rainbow flags and pennants. Credit: Compliments of Anna Broms.

Why rainbow flags can send mixed messages

5:30 min

When a business flies the rainbow flag, how do people in the LGBTIQ community interpret the gesture?

With Pride being held in Stockholm now, you can see the iconic multi-colored flag hoisted at lots of places: banks, hotels, department stores, boutiques, restaurants, a car dealership, and on and on.

In 2014, the combined net income of the Swedish LGBT community was estimated at 150 billion SEK - that's a hunk of money that businesses can try to tap into. But when they fly the rainbow flag, what does it mean to people in the community: a genuine show of support for the cause, or an attempt to cash in on the pink krona - or a bit of both?

We spoke to Pride-goers to see how they perceive these displays, and whether seeing the 6-colored flag aloft at a business establishment makes them more likely to want to spend their money there. We also spoke to the owner of a restaurant festooned with rainbow pennants.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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