This Tuesday, Apple announced the launch of a new Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Pride Edition, to celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month this June. The new watch consists of a Pride Edition Sport Band with a matching watch face and iOS wallpaper.
The design, as described on Apple’s website, “integrates a joyful rainbow of geometric shapes on a white base […] No two bands are exactly alike, reflecting the individuality of all members of the LGBTQ+ community.” Included on the design are the original pride flag rainbow colours and five others: black and brown to symbolise both the Black and Latin communities and those who have passed away from or are living with HIV/AIDS, and light blue, pink and white as the colours of the transgender and nonbinary pride flag.
Apple writes that “through these efforts, Apple supports and brings awareness to LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations that are working to bring about positive change,” mentioning groups like the Equality Federation Institute, “an advocacy accelerator that is building a network of state-based LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations in the U.S.; GLSEN, an education group working to end anti-queer discrimination, harassment, and bullying; and the National Center for Transgender Equality as some of the specific organizations that they continue to support.
This design will be the 8th Pride band released by Apple. The first, distributed to Apple employees taking part in San Francisco’s pride parade on 26 June 2016, was unveiled a full year before the Apple Watch was released on sale to the public. Its design consisted of a simple pride flag-coloured nylon wristband. A new Pride Edition watch has been released every year since, continuing the company’s history of LGBTQ+ advocacy, elsewhere seen in their (PRODUCT)RED accessories and devices that have raised over quarter of a billion dollars in the fight to end AIDS.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, described by POLITICO as “[America’s] most visible gay executive,” has long used his position to advance LGBTQ+ causes. He publicly came out in a now-famous editorial for Bloomberg Business in which he wrote that “I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me […] We pave the sunlit path toward justice together, brick by brick. This is my brick.” Such activism has led to recent clashes with Republican lawmakers in the U.S. as a new wave of legislation targeting LGBTQ+ individuals is introduced nationwide as Apple uses its assets to try and crush harmful legislation, including against Iowa’s bill seeking to ban transgender girls from participation in girls’ K-12 or collegiate sports. Democratic Arizona state Rep. César Chávez praised the company, saying that “Apple has been an incredible partner for the LGBTQ community.”
Nonetheless, some have remained sceptical of Apple’s position, with LGBTQ+ apps remaining censored by Apple’s app store and developers in 152 countries worldwide. “Apple has such restrictive and monopolistic app store policies, it creates a convenient chokepoint for authoritarianism and discrimination,” said Evan Greer, director of Fight for the Future. “That’s how I evaluate a company — they can wave the rainbow flag all they want but at the end of the day, Apple is conducting itself in a manner that’s harming my community.”
The 2023 Apple Pride Edition Sport Band goes on sale May 24 and will cost $49.
Reported by Jude Jones
Jude Jones is social media manager and staff writer at Gay45. He is also an undergraduate student at the University of Cambridge researching the literary, visual, and academic cultures of HIV/AIDS in Britain, France, and the USA.