Dear Kiki: Is it wrong to fanboy for Kum & Go?

Dear Kiki,

My boyfriend bought me a Kum and Gay Rights T-shirt and I called him a “Republican donor who supports big oil.” He tried to explain to me that $10 from every purchase goes to the Trevor Project and that the entire thing was set up by @justin_nick our favorite LGBTQIA+ gamer. I told him, “You’re being played” and that this was nothing more than a publicity stunt for a gas station to sell their lame T-shirts that don’t even mesh their actual logo with a design that supports gay rights. He said, “You’re mad I didn’t get you the tank top, aren’t you?” I said, “Yes.” (He knows me so well.) Kiki, am I actually in love with a Republican donor who supports big oil?


Dear Kum&Gamer69,

Repeat after me: “There is no ethical consumption under capitalism.” Once more: “There is no ethical consumption under capitalism.” Is that a cop-out? Only if you let it be. It certainly lends itself well to an “AH, FUCKIT!” attitude. But it’s also a call to be gentle with yourself and others; to acknowledge that living in this world is hard as fuck, man; and to examine our transactions through more than one lens. If we want to live wisely, we have to develop a hierarchy of our own values.

Take a lesson from Dougray Scott’s prince in the 1998 classic Drew Barrymore flick Ever After (don’t question me, readers), who “used to think that if I cared about anything, I would have to care about everything, and I’ll go stark raving mad.” He learns that we make choices in life, and that while what we choose defines us, what we let go doesn’t have to. Know what your deal breakers are, and go gentle on everything else.

There are Republicans in this world. Many individuals and businesses give them money. If that truly is a dealbreaker for you, then download an app like Goods Unite Us (encourage your boyfriend to get it, too), and get ready to change a lot more of your habits than simply what shirts you wear. Have you ever looked into where you buy your groceries, for example? But if your passions are tempered by the nuance of other concerns, you’ll need to weigh in the balance things like (1) supporting an org you value, (2) creating a business opportunity for a celebrity you admire and (3) Kum & Go’s other policies on things like employee benefits and more.

Kum&Gamer69, there is no ethical consumption under capitalism, but I believe there can be ethical compromise under capitalism — and it’s the same as the compromises we have to make to share our life with another person: Know your dealbreakers, and give everything else weight based on your hierarchy of values.

Would it be a dealbreaker for you if your boyfriend actually was a Republican donor who supports big oil? Would it matter more to you than whether he calls his mother regularly or sells drugs to children or dances nude outside every fourth Wednesday at midnight? Only you can decide that. A close look at our own hierarchy of values is crucial to every relationship, both business and personal.

Of course, choosing to promote a business is a bigger decision than choosing to patronize them. You could always make the compromise of only wearing the shirt at home, so you’re not out in the world hyping them up. But ultimately, the reasons your boyfriend gave you for choosing to buy the shirt for you show that he is thinking ethically, even if he is coming to a different conclusion than you would. In my hierarchy of values, the ability and willingness to do that is paramount.

xoxo, Kiki

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