Hi I’m Jhermie, aka Whermie, a 21-year-old model and cannabis content creator based in Los Angeles CA. As a minority working in a straight, white, and male-dominated industry, I feel that increased visibility and representation of LGBTQ+ community members is how we can continue to create career opportunities for others like me in the cannabis industry. However, when companies do this only for the purpose of profit, it can negatively impact the meaning of this celebratory month.
With the rise in popularity of rainbow-themed marketing tactics during June, aka Pride Month, it can be difficult to differentiate between brands that truly care about making their audience feel represented and celebrated, and those that are only, rainbow washing. According to a recent article about Pride-themed stunts, “rainbow-washing is when a business publicly shows support for the LGBTQ+ community (think: changing social media avatars or publishing support statements at the start of Pride Month) but privately engages in practices that are detrimental to those who identify as LGBTQ+.”
One way to know if a brand and / or influencer is taking genuine action is whether they’re putting in time to truly get to know and understand their community. Erica DeLoach is a voice coach, body worker, and founder of “Folks of cannabis” on Instagram, a page that celebrates members of the LGBTQ+ community. She understands the importance of authentic representation, so I asked her a few questions about what Pride Month means to her. Check out our discussion below and happy Pride Month!
- What does Pride Month mean to you and how do you celebrate?
Pride is honestly like any month to me because I love celebrating being queer AF daily! It also can sometimes be difficult as a chronically ill disabled person because Pride celebrations aren’t always accessible for those with disabilities. Pride Month reminds me how grateful I am to those responsible for starting the Pride riot & beginning the advocacy for LGBTQIA+ rights, helping me feel safe being proud today. In June, I enjoy educating myself further and am passionate about making Pride accessible & safe for everyone.
- You’re the co-founder of “Folx of Cannabis” on Instagram, can you please share with us more about the channel, why you founded it, and who should follow it?
Cannabis & queerness are 2 essential ways I relate to the world. Not only is cannabis vital as a disabled medical patient, but I found it helpful for embracing who I am as a queer pansexual non-binary femme - & for continuing to explore my fluid sexuality!
This led me to helping curate the LGBTQ cannabis space, which is very precious & close to my heart. It’s constantly evolving, and I plan to eventually expand it to its own platform / website in order to avoid media censorship.
For Folx of Cannabis, I seek to feature, uplift, & connect members of the LGBTQIA+ cannabis community and provide a platform to celebrate our own canna queerness, businesses, creativity, love, sexuality, education, & everything that makes us US as cannaqueers. It’s focused on queer intimacy, connection, equality, visibility, & representation in the canna industry. I have met some truly BEAUTIFUL beings & opportunities from this space! Anyone who enjoys cannabis & identifies as part of the LGBTQIA+ community should follow if they feel called!
- Do you feel the cannabis industry is inclusive of those in the LGBTQ+ community?
Not as much as it could be. Things are changing, but I feel the cannabis industry could be more inclusive of the LGBTQIA+ community. Not only because we’re all humans who deserve it but because of how much queer protests paved the way for cannabis legalization.
Rainbow capitalism happens everywhere this month, including the canna industry. Many of those companies that are rainbow washing their feeds/brands/products don’t give back to the community, don’t do their research, or don’t care what they find when they do so they give to untrustworthy organizations. I can’t count how many non-LGBTQIA+ people (who’ve never interacted with me/don’t support my work) have approached me this month wanting me to suddenly promote their brand.
These people’s intentions are transparent: we see them not speaking up/standing with our community, popping up to make money & capitalize on Pride, then slinking back the rest of the year.
Supporting LGBTQIA+ owned businesses/folx year-round & creating space for cannaqueer leaders in the industry is definitely one way to be more inclusive!
- How can cannabis brands and allies meaningfully support the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month and year-round?
When donating, I recommend everyone doing their own research on nonprofits & organizations. Many big-named LGBTQIA+ orgs don’t support the community or use campaigning for queer issues as a way to earn money.
Donate to individuals & local LGBTQIA+ organizations as much as possible. Elevate especially queer & trans BIPOC and disabled queers, who struggle with inclusion. We have a list of researched QBIPOC nonprofits & orgs at www.pridemarketplace.com, but there are many more doing amazing things for the community! @cannaclusive has an excellent Accountability List showing what companies contribute to POC & queer communities.
Collaborate with queer brands & canna industry folks year-round. Include us in the cannabis space & be allies daily. Speak & stand up often for LGBTQIA+ rights. If able, donate regularly. Listen to queer folks & elevate their voices!
- Despite significant change, many people within the LGBTQ+ community still face discrimination, do you have advice for those coping with feelings of marginalization?
Who you are, who you love, & what brings you pleasure is nothing to be ashamed of. Your worth is not based on your “productivity” or colonized heteronormative expectations. You’re worthy because you EXIST. You deserve to feel good & be loved.
Rest often, do what brings joy, & ask for help when needed. To ask for support is strength. You aren’t alone. If you need a safe space or person, please reach out! Don’t feel guilty for meeting your needs or setting boundaries. You deserve to feel safe, seen, & heard.
Who we are is always expanding (the rainbow has colors we can’t even see!) You’re SO beautiful!!
Follow Whermie on Instagram at @whermie & use code WHERMIE for 15% off at mota-glass.com!