Thoughts on Pride, our 2022 photoshoot and community impact
I'll be the first to admit that I have had a strange relationship with #Pride. Being bullied most of my school age, fighting for #equality meant wanting to blend in. I was called out daily for being #gay simply walking down the hall. So when I first encountered Pride, I couldn't wrap my head around wanting to draw more attention to myself. I didn't give Pride much space in my world.
Now years and life experiences later, I have found a new relationship with Pride. I understand its significance and have found a role in it that is meaningful to me.
While figuring out what I wanted to say for Pride this year, I came across the quote: you can't be what you can't see.
It's changed me.
I wondered how can I ever hope to inspire someone else to be their 'true self' if I'm not bringing my mine to the table every day? That was when I realized the importance of being visible—PRIDE.
By nature, I am not loud and proud, but I certainly make no effort to hide who I am. For Nor'easter, I didn't want it labeled as any one type of clothing brand. I wanted it to celebrate all things 'East Coast' by creating graphics that empower and celebrate our connection to this place we call home. I wanted to design clothing that made people feel good, and hopefully anyone can see themselves in it.
Our 2022 Pride t-shirt represents bringing your true self to the party and allowing yourself to love that journey! For LGBTQ+ individuals and allies, it really is a journey. But it doesn't just end on June 30 or at the closing of a Pride festival—it last 365 days a year.
As LGBTQ+ persons, it can feel like we have to continue coming out every time we meet someone new. Yes, it gets easier as we get more confident. But it's always there—stepping into new social circles or applying for new jobs. Making travel plans and researching how gay-friendly the destination is and what local laws are—still asking ourselves, will I be accepted there? I'm not sure if the journey will ever really be over.
While planning our Pride photoshoot, I wanted it to reflect #diversity, #inclusion, #bodypositivity, and cheeky fun. I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful group of people to come together. I told them, "This shoot is about being yourselves, so bring accessories that are 'you.' Here's our t-shirt, now make it your own."
I was happy to partner with Stanfield's, another signature Nova Scotian brand. I have much gratitude for their collaboration on the project and for supplying us with an array of their classic briefs. Because let's get real for a hot minute, no Pride photoshoot would be complete without some guys in underwear 😉 #cheeky
Our youngest model, Mya, is a 13-year-old girl who identifies as gay and has the coolest supportive mom. She also happens to ride horses and loves all furry animals.
Kristi is a redhead bombshell and local drag queen.
Dustin is our cowboy who owns a horse farm.
Justin and James are the most enthusiastic ranch hands you could ask for and full of pure positivity.
One of the intentions I set for the company this year was to increase our community engagement.
As the details of our shoot were coming together, a local GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) club from Bayview Community School in Mahone Bay asked if I would print their t-shirts for Pride month. I responded, "You have no idea how perfectly in line this is with our vision for 2022!" I took it one step further and invited some of the kids to help.
An opportunity to form a positive influence on their journey and have them feel seen and affirmed for who they are was something too vital to pass up. How I see myself as a leader within my #community is morphing into something unexpected and more meaningful than I imagined. It would seem that #leadership can take many forms when we open ourselves to being visible. And maybe great leaders aren't always defined by the size of their crowd but rather the size of their impact.
While old memories and insecurities continue to be replaced with new personal growth, this Pride I see as an illustration of hope—a chance to inspire and affirm. For some, being proud of who they are, comes a lot easier than it does for others. And just maybe, I might have the ability to motivate someone else to let their true self be seen, finding their courage to be proud 365.
Happy Pride, everyone!
Still want more content? Here's a behind the scenes look at our photoshoot.