Hornby has come under fire after it released a Pride Van, but said it wouldn’t be donating proceeds to any LGBT+ charities. (Twitter)
Famed model railway brand Hornby has admitted that it isn’t donating any proceeds from its new “Pride Van” to LGBT+ organisations.
The company attracted some criticism on Tuesday (1 June) when it unveiled its new van on Twitter to celebrate Pride Month. The queer-themed design features the colours of the rainbow flag along with the words “Pride” and “love is love”.
While some model railway fans were keen to get their hands on the Pride Van, others questioned whether proceeds would be donated to LGBT+ charities after the company said it would help to “support” the community.
On Wednesday (2 June), Hornby clarified its position, writing: “Please be advised we’re not donating any money at present but we’ll be keeping this in mind for the future.
“We wanted to show our commitment to the LGBTQ+ community with this model alongside our existing Pride models and hope that it’ll be a benefit and encourage awareness. Thank you.”
LGBT+ people have criticised Hornby’s attempt at ‘allyship’
The company has been heavily criticised by LGBT+ people on Twitter, with some suggesting that selling a Pride Van for profit isn’t allyship, it’s marketing.
— Jones 🏴🇪🇺🏳️🌈 (@EarlOfSidmouth) June 3, 2021
Fixed your artwork for you. Don’t worry I won’t ask for royalties 😉 pic.twitter.com/NZps6rTyXB
— OakHillModelRailway #MRYCG (@OakHillRailway) June 2, 2021
Hi unfortunate social media person, I hope you’re not having too rough a day. Please can you pass on to senior management that LGBT+ people can’t eat ‘awareness’ and that this kind of hollow marketing ploy is disgusting. Either open your purse Hornby or don’t bother. Thanks.
— stream god save this queen (@dontforgetjames) June 3, 2021
I’d strongly suggest reconsidering this. Profiting from Pride without giving anything back isn’t a good look.
To be brutally honest, in this context ‘raising awareness’ smacks painfully of ‘paid with exposure’. It sucks in the art world and it sucks here.
— Slightly Ridiculous (@Slightly_Ridic) June 2, 2021
You’ll consider it for the future, but didn’t think to consider it for the launch of this model, which at the time of planning, now would’ve been the future. Do better and do it right first time, or don’t bother! As LGBTQ+ people, we are not a free marketing ploy!
— Richard (@minceystrider) June 3, 2021
Others criticised Hornby for failing to donate funds to LGBT+ charities when it donated £40,000 to the NHS in April 2020 after the company released a limited edition Captain Tom Moore and NHS Class 66 model.
This you? https://t.co/uRAcf493z3
— ya brat éponine 🧜🏻♀️🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️ (@BeingJarley) June 2, 2021
you did the charity thing with the tom Moore 66 – don’t see why you can’t do it here
— Stirlin (@StirlinGreen) June 2, 2021
Meanwhile, some people at least appreciated Hornby’s honesty in admitting that it won’t be donating funds to LGBT+ charities.
Well I do appreciate the honesty in a brand finally admitting that their support for LGBT+ people is purely driven by self-interest rather than actually wanting to help the community
— Dr. Alex Moylett 🏳️⚧️ (@aemylt) June 3, 2021
The organisers behind the Progress Train initiative, which sees trains emblazoned in the LGBT+ colours travelling across the UK, also weighed in, saying they had a call with representatives from Hornby in February where they discussed the idea of a Pride Van.
The Progress Train organisers said they “raised concerns about the lack of donation to an LGBTQ+ charity” during their February meeting.
“We were assured by Hornby that donations would be made to an LGBTQ+ charity from the sale of their Pride-themed items, moving forward,” they tweeted. “And then we saw this message with their Pride Month launch.”
The Progress Train Twitter account tweeted: “The LGBTQ+ community does not exist as a means for corporations to make a profit. If you really wish to ‘support the community’, the least you can do is donate to an appropriate charity.”
Right. Let’s talk about [email protected]: this is not how you do good #Pride merchandise.
1) six stripes in 2021 isn’t the way to go
2) ‘Love Is Love’ is actually an exclusionary phrase – Pride isn’t just about love
3) no donations being made to an LGBTQ+ charity isn’t ok [1/4] https://t.co/5G9MPa3Vw3
— The Progress Train 🏳️⚧️🏳️🌈🚂 (@TheProgressTrn) June 3, 2021
Andrew Smith, a member of the LGBT+ community, has published an open letter to Hornby expressing his disappointment with the company’s decision.
“Hornby believe, like other companies, that giving ‘visibility’ and ‘awareness’ of the LGBTQ+ community is enough, however companies that do not back up their support in a tangible and meaningful way see their words and actions become hollow.”
In his letter, Smith accused Hornby of “rainbow washing”, which he said occurs when big companies include LGBT+ identities in their product range solely for their own benefit.
“LGBTQ+ people do not wish to see their community being used solely for profit. We want to see innovation and actions that create real change to the communities that are being used within their products and marketing.”
In a statement released Thursday evening (3 June), Hornby apologised to the LGBT+ community and promised to donate funds to the community.
“Following the launch of the Hornby LGBTQ+ Pride Wagon on Tuesday we would like to say sorry!” the company said.
“We have got this wrong and deeply apologise – waving the flag is not enough. We must promote the LGBTQ+ community by donating the proceeds to the cause.
“So we now turn to you and ask where best within the community the proceeds should be donated. Again we apologise to everyone who was offended – this was of course never our intention and for that we are sorry.”
The company is appealing to the LGBT+ community to share their suggestions for where they should donate funds by emailing [email protected]