By Kenyth Mogan, ProudTimes’ LA Correspondent
Converse once again releases Pride Collection for 2019, to celebrate the LGBT Community.
I was born proud.
Most of my family had figured out I was gay by the time I was three. It wasn’t something that was talked about, nor was it something I was taught to be ashamed of – or hide. I was free to live my life exactly how I wanted. This included Hello Kitty tee shirts and hot pink converse with electric blue laces. I was a walking, one man, gay pride parade living in a tiny little town in northeastern Montana.
I was lucky. There were a lot of men and women who had to fight like hell to put me, and others, in a spot where we didn’t have to be afraid of how we were born. While there’s still a LONG way to go, the strides we’ve made have been monumental.
This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. For anyone who doesn’t know, it was a turning point in gay history. Marsha P. Johnson, a beautiful and brave trans woman threw a brick, and collectively, as a community, we stood up to say “enough!”
To learn more about her you can check out a preview of the Netflix documentary on Marsha P. Johnson’s life, here.
To celebrate a half-century of LGBTQ visibility: Converse has released a very special collection that encompasses the community as a whole. A special collection for Pride is a way to show they celebrate diversity and inclusion. In fact, Converse has been doing them for a while. But, they’ve always been ahead of the curve, which is one of the reasons I love the brand so much.
“Converse’s Pride collection was born out of our LGBTQ+ employee network in 2015,” their press release states, “and it has since evolved into an annual celebration.”
It’s easy to slap some rainbow product on a pretty model and call it pride. Whether the model is part of the community or not. Not Converse, and not with this line. The models are as diverse, colorful, and unique as the shoes they’re wearing. They’re also genuine members of the community. Included in the 2019 campaign you’ll find: Desmond is Amazing, Drag Kid and LGBTQ+ advocate, Kristin Beck, a retired United States Navy SEAL and trans activist, Alexis Sablone, a pro-skateboarder (and CONS Skateboarding teammate) and the artist Felix, a student advocate and nature enthusiast who first connected with Converse through OUT MetroWest, Ayishat Akanbi, UK-based fashion stylist, writer and cultural commentator, and Fran Tirado, a queer podcaster and Deputy Editor of OUT Magazine.
When companies like Converse, such as Nordstrom, Gap, Doc Martens, not only celebrate Pride Month, but represent it with members of our community, the conversation goes beyond just a pair of shoes. It shows the queer community for who we really are, people. Because of the integrity of Converse as a brand, LGBTQ+ people and allies will spend their dollars wisely…and, queerly.
The shoes, which retail from $60 – $100 became available on May 6th. They can be found in Converse stores and through their website. In celebration of Converse’s annual PRIDE collection, contributions are supporting longstanding local and global LGBTQ+ partners, including It Gets Better Project, OUT MetroWest, & Fenway Health.