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Bus company issues clumsy apology after blistering backlash over its rebranding of a ‘Pride bus’ into an ‘NHS bus’

Josh Milton May 20, 2020
Bus company apologises after rebranding a Pride bus into an NHS bus

Plymouth Citybus "rebranded" the company's Pride bus into a "Thank You NHS" bus, sparking confusion and criticism from the LGBT+ community. (Twitter)

A British bus company apologised Tuesday morning (May 19) after it was blasted by Twitter users for rebranding an LGBT+ Pride bus into an “‘NHS’ bus”.

As the coronavirus continues to paralyse the nation, housebound families have encouraged children to doodle rainbows to hang in windows to motivate medics on their way to work.

In an attempt to amplify this, Plymouth Citybus suffered stinging criticism from the LGBT+ community after it announced last Saturday it both renamed and altered the double-decker bus it featured in Plymouth Pride parades.

Printed with the six-striped flag, the bus now bore “Thank you NHS and key workers” on its side instead of “Plymouth Citybus proudly supports Pride in Plymouth”.

A move that saw Plymouth Citybus be accused of erasing the LGBT+ community and misappropriating a historic symbol.

Transit company apologises for any ‘offence’ taken by rebranded Pride bus.

In a cascading series of barbed jokes, satirical memes and angered critiques, countless Twitter users hounded Plymouth Citybus for “re-appropriating” the Pride flag.

The company told PinkNews at the time that “the Pride bus in Plymouth has been borrowed to show support to the NHS and fellow key workers” and stressed it’s only “temporary”.

But as opposition mounted, Plymouth Citybus issued an apology across its social media platform three days later.

“We would like to apologise if the use of our pride bus to support the NHS and key workers has caused offence,” the public transit company wrote in the statement.

“This was not our intention. Our team have played a huge part in Pride in Plymouth for many years.

“We are an all-inclusive company representing the community we serve.”

LGBT+ folk uneasy as Pride flag increasingly becomes the ‘Thank you NHS’ flag.

What has now emerged as an emblem of solidarity with frontline staffers has been increasingly mired by brazen rebrands of LGBT+ Pride flags, rattling queer folk who are already contending with the coronavirus pandemic’s eradication of 2020’s Pride season.

From eBay merchants flogging “Thank you NHS” flags that are literally just Pride flags to anti-LGBT people and even world leaders refusing to associate rainbows with supporting workers, the bizarre collision of ways to spread hope to medics and the historic symbol of the LGBT+ community is a rather unexpected one.

Noah considered it a sign from God, Aristotle grappled with its geometry and Dorothy sang about soaring above it. The rainbow has had, over the years, more meaning and significations tacked onto it than it contains colours.

But to Gilbert Baker, the rainbow was an enduring international symbol of the LGBT+ community, and this meaning has persevered ever since.

The resulting unease over this intersection was echoed by Twitter users’ response to the apology.

Many grappled with a way for the rainbow to symbolise both camps, while others continued to berate Plytmouh Citybus for its decision to rebrand the Pride bus rather than simply create a second vehicle specifically to support the NHS.

More: Britain, cancer research uk, coronavirus pandemic, NHS, Plymouth, pride flag, Rainbows, UK

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