A year ago, as the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the country, among the first casualties of the shutdown and quarantine were Pride Month celebrations. Many Pride events were postponed and reworked as virtual happenings, or even canceled outright. So at this moment in history, Pride’s significance for the LGBTQIA+ community is even more imperative for recognition, celebration and continued advocacy from allies.
Since its founding in 1966, Vans, the iconic footwear and apparel brand, has strived to highlight and inspire creativity in all communities. Embracing diverse ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, Vans has always celebrated authentic self-expression.
In an effort to continue this ongoing support of artists, Vans launched a series during Pride Month depicting the stories of four LGBTQIA+ regional ambassadors, focusing on their artwork. The series, “Together As Ourselves,” showcases the intersection of queer identity and creative expression in a short video.
In the videos, the four regional ambassadors—poet and social media curator of the art education nonprofit Get Lit, Tyris Winter; painter, designer and printmaker Mich Miller; singer-songwriter Serena Isioma; and skateboarder, photographer and creative director Sam McGuire—communicate their lived experiences through their art. Each of their unique stories will be shared in the form of a short video that spotlights how their queer identities inform their creative pursuits.
The series serves as an important vignette emphasizing the importance of LGBTQIA+ representation and contributions in their creative communities as well as throughout society at large.
“I know that there’s a lot of people like me, but they’re just not shown, so it’s cool now that there’s people like me flourishing in whatever career they have,” says Isioma.
Vans encouraged each ambassador to explore their creation process instead of focusing on the final product. This inspired a shift in focus among the ambassadors that is demonstrated in the video as they spotlight how intertwined their queer identities are with their creativity.
“My photography is celebrating being comfortable with yourself,” says McGuire.
Sustained amplification of LGBTQIA+ stories and voices is not only empowering, but it also cultivates a vital sense of self worth that is often times diminished by hate, discrimination and intolerance.
“Right now there’s a lot of bittersweet in the world. As a queer person, I experience a lot of bittersweet,” says Mich Miller.
By elevating these ambassadors’ creative endeavors in "Together As Ourselves," Vans aims to support and celebrate the cultural impact that the LGBTQIA+ community has had on society. Beyond Pride 2021, Vans is committed to advocating for support of the LGBTQIA+ community year-round in order to promote equality and progress.
Learn more at Vans.com/Pride.