CELEBRATE PRIDE CAMPAIGN
In honor of PRIDE Month, we teamed up with Partida Tequila for a "Celebrate Pride" Campaign. Together, we wanted to create a series that encourages everyone to embrace the LGBTQ community along with the different stories, sub-cultures and interpretations of the community at large. Early on, we decided to create a rainbow aesthetic with a minimalist white background so that the story and subject really popped. The participants involved are all individuals who submission to our open call, each sharing their own story about what they celebrate about PRIDE. All of the stories are filled with truth, wisdom and self-love. On a personal note, I have learned so much from this series, especially opening up my capacity for seeing how we are all the same as anyone can relate to some part of each story. For The Confetti Project, I'd had to advocate -to this day - that this work is so much more than rainbows and unicorns but about being present and grateful for every moment you are given, even if it's filled with adversity, challenge and discomfort. So these are the stories that unfolded when we asked: what do you celebrate about being part of the LGBTQ community?
I celebrate equality and visibility in the workplace. At my first job in NYC, staff openly talked negatively about LGBTQ identifying people. I was shocked because I was in a city known for being open and welcoming and wondered if I would ever find a job where I'd feel comfortable talking about who I am and who I love. Now, I don't have to be quiet about my sexuality at work anymore and am part of an amazing team that values inclusivity and acceptance. In fact, Sofar Sounds is putting on concerts all over the world in celebration of Pride and our LGBTQ identifying artists. It feels so good to feel at home at work. I want to throw glitter everywhere all the time. There's a joy in being LGBTQ. It something that is seen as a struggle that has come at a cost. Right now I'm really happy. I'm out in my work, to my family - in my entire personal life I've never felt so myself. I'm celebrating the joy in being gay or being queer.. I celebrate finding yourself, your truth. Just being happy and comfortable enough in it to help others. I want my happiness to make others feel comfortable and at home.
I've had a long journey with myself from, as many young gays before me, coming from a suburban town, and ideally overcoming the hate and discrimination that more often than not, comes with that same old story. I came out in an unapologetic, and slightly aggressive way...just blurting out to my mother with the phrase "WELL, IM NOT EVEN GAY, IM BISEXUAL!" All while she was on the phone with my aunt and uncle who were screaming 'faggot! WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO START WEARING A PINK DRESS?!' over the phone. Afterwards, the sudden realization that at such a young age, I then started becoming the 'parent', and had to, help my heterosexual, caucasian family members, cope with such a hard time. (*ahem) But after many talks, many fights, and too many, semi-forced hugs, some...and only some, members of my family came around to the idea that being gay...is not sin, a crime, or wrong by any means. Flash forward, I move to NYC, when I was hit with what felt like a ton of gay bricks, and it was a little unsettling. I couldn't help but see all of these people, who I thought probably have gone through what I went through, in this party atmosphere and doing what seemed like nothing but dancing, drinking, and having sex. Is THIS what being gay is? A young 20 year old me asked myself. But right around this time, marriage equality started coming to all forms of social media. I started realizing how much support there was, and I started, finding a voice. A voice that had so much to say, for the first time. The same voice that shouted in frustration at my mother, was now sculpted, eloquent, and ready to speak up. This new voice really spoke from deep within, and I started focusing on all the parts of myself that I actually love...the parts that are eager to be the person for other people, that I never had. Could I be the role model I was searching for this whole time? I now see someone dancing in a gay club as a celebration. Every head bob, pelvic thrust, and flailing vogue arms...all are little victory dances. These are our safe spaces, our sanctuaries...places to go to escape, express, and to feel. I now make it my aim to do my best to spread self love, and support through the LGBT community and to be an advocate for queer folks everywhere. After all, were all on same “team.”
Fitness has always been a huge part of my life — not just because I come from a family of athletes where our house looked more like a sports sleep away camp than a home — but also because of the expectation and pressure we gays put on ourselves to look amazing all the time. I’ve done everything from team sports to olympic weightlifting to triathlons but the only thing that has ever really stuck with me is Crossfit, and more specifically Crossfit at Brick New York. With membership that is easily more than 50% gay or “other” it has been my fitness and friendship home and haven for the past 5 years. Recently, the gay safety net in the Crossfit community was pulled out from under us. An Indianapolis box cancelled their Pride workout, resulting in community upheaval. Crossfit HQ c-suite member Russell Berger tweeted his support, claiming that celebrating “pride” is a “sin." Crossfit quickly terminated Berger and made a statement in favor of Crossfit’s diverse and colorful global membership. And in that spirit I’ve chosen to celebrate Pride 2018 by hosting the first ever Crossfit Drag Show at Brick New York in Chelsea. Seven strong and strapping crossfit boys will don their fanciest lewks and strut the “runway” in the downstairs studio of Brick in support of the Out Foundation. In addition to the performances, we are having an audience makeover and high heel relay/walk off competitions. The whole evening is in demonstration of the safe environment that our amazing coaches have built for us and that we can simultaneous be strong and soft, serious and silly. I am so excited to be silly and strong and beautiful and weird with the guys that I work out with every day. If you asked me fifteen years ago when I was the captain of a very straight very southern football team if I thought I’d ever get to workout in heels, I don’t think I could have answered you confidently. But now I’m creating that chance for myself.
I always seem to come out at the most memorable moments. When I came out as queer to my mother, she was just about to leave on her annual two-week-long trip to India. A couple of months later, I woke up to my brother’s Snapchat story, filled with emojis of broken hearts. When I heard crying, I knew what happened, and went downstairs to offer my advice. Even though he claimed “I didn’t know what girls were like,” he finally let me talk to him. I told him that he was wrong in his earlier comment because I had actually dated a girl before, two in fact. And like in his situation, I was broken up with both times. In all his teary vision, he looked at my mom, and back to me, with a smile of shock and surprise. A few questions were asked, but it was smooth from there on. I came out to my dad when our family of four was in the living room, tension high after a family dispute. The air was thick, and it seemed like things couldn’t get any worse. Because of this tension, I took a deep breath and started to speak. “Well, while we’re in this whole intense family business, dad, I like girls.” He looked at me and for a minute, I couldn’t breathe. After what seemed like an eternity, he chuckled and said: “I like girls too.” Everyone laughed, and the previous argument had passed. I always knew that I liked girls and boys since the day in fifth grade when I held hands with my best friend and got butterflies. But, after everything I had ever learned about the LGBT+ community, which wasn’t much at the time, I had always been told that I was “too young to know.” So, instead of acting on all these small experiences that made my heart speed up and my face red, I repressed the feelings. For the next few years, I felt guilty for loving. It was as though I had done something terribly wrong, feeling almost like I committed a crime. Fast forward to now, things have shaped up, and I’m even going to my first ever Pride NYC event. Right now at this moment, there’s no doubt in my mind that this is who I’m supposed to be. My sexuality has taken me on a long journey, and I know it is far from over. I am celebrating the amount of love I have for myself, for others, and especially for girls. The amount of backlash I’ve received throughout my whole life is enough to fill someone to the brim with negativity, but I am ready to move past that. This month, I am celebrating the girl I am now; the confident, happy, queer girl, the girl I wouldn't trade for the world. This month, I am celebrating me: the girl who loves unapologetically.
I came out when I was sixteen years old. Almost exactly half my life ago. Didn’t know much, but I knew this much was true: Britney Spears was my icon, and I was a disciple of Judy. A friend of Dorothy. After years of self loathing and Catholic family guilt, I have only recently started to feel like myself. This year, Imoved out of my parents’ place. I am nearly one year sober. It took me until I was 30 to truly feel at home in my body. I simultaneously feel like a veteran and a virgin. It's pretty wild! I'm just starting to break the surface on what it means to be a gay person. Today, I celebrate all the ways that gay can be. There were times in my life where Pride Month was the most amazing idea in the world and times when it seemed like the worst idea in the world. When I was feeling the best about myself and about finding this magical community to be a part of it, it was the best - the greatest thing in the world... I can go to this community and everyone has this thing in common, something that we can see and embrace in one another. Then there was a time where I was in the weeds of toxic friendships, thinking: why would I want to spend a month celebrating people that I don't understand or relate to at all? It was reflective of my state of mind, of my journey. Now, I celebrate life! We must stay true, and it’s our prerogative to keep it all positive. This month, and always, I am proud so that young, queer kids have someone to identify with, to sympathize, to safely find their passion and to make their own troupe. This community is a gateway to any other world you want to be part of. Now, there are gay people in every industry. That is a connection that can be made. There are so many out people in every industry that it's overwhelming... but it’s amazing at the same time.
This series was debuted at The Slow Factory in Bushwick from June 23rd - July 7th for an interactive (think: a few pounds of rainbow confetti on the floor!) exhibit. We created this series in record time - less than a week - and are blown away to have created meaningful visual storytelling with real people and their real stories.