If you can love freely, why can’t I? Our Illustrators Celebrate the LGBTQ+ Community
In honor of Pride Month, we asked our illustrators to share what being a member and ally of the LGBTQ+ community personally means to them and how it shapes their artistic practice.
“I always knew I was gay and having that awareness when I was a kid made me feel like an outsider most of the time. Coming out was a process of claiming MY story and standing proud in my own skin. As an artist, the stories I want to tell are those of people who challenge themselves and conquer the seemingly impossible tasks in life. Looking back, I would encourage my younger self to let go of trying to control what others think and embracing the person I am. My dream is for all of us to live without fear!”
“Identifying as a member of the LGBTQ+ community has helped me feel okay about taking up space in a community that promotes identity and self-expression. Looking back, I’d tell my teenage self: “Just be you, dude. Don’t worry too much about what other people think. And stop using so much hair gel.” I worry about the young folks living in very conservative areas all over the world and not feeling the support they deserve. I dream that the community will continue doing what we’re doing, supporting one another, celebrating the folks before us who got us to where we are now, so we can continue the work for the next generation.”
Nien-Ken Alec Lu
“Being gay gives me a different perspective and allows me to see things in a more sensitive and critical way to bring awareness to my audience. Looking back, I would tell myself to always be authentic and unapologetic about who I am. My biggest fear for the community is knowing there are still many members who are suffering, experiencing homelessness and abuse, and that society is not changing fast enough to embrace everyone. I dream that coming out will not be a thing anymore! That we ALL as humans just accept everyone who identifies as whatever they want to be.”
“Even though it came as a shock to my family when I came out, over time, they normalized a situation that should have been seen as normal from the beginning. Coming out has allowed me to express myself with more freedom when, for example, choosing colours. Illustration allows me to talk about what I feel, what I like and what I don’t. Looking back, I would tell my teenage self not to be afraid and not to be in a hurry. I would tell him that, when he is ready, he will experience a strength and self-confidence that will make him able to achieve everything he decides to do. He will feel free and loved, just as he is. My biggest fear for the community is that we will be stigmatized again, that society will treat us the way we were treated in the early 80s. I dream of a day where everyone can put aside their hate to understand that love is love. If you can love freely, why can’t I?”