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History in the Making: LGBTQ+ Designers Share Thoughts on Pride in Monumental Year
Interior Design Media
New York, New York, USA
Carlene Olsen
Date Published: 
LGBTQ, Leadership, Interview, Q/A, Interior Design, Minority, Diversity
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2020-06-26 01:17:50
2020-06-26 01:59:59
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Interior Deisgn Media
This year, Pride hits different. June, which marks the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots, typically heralds in a wave of Pride parties and parades across the country, commemorating strides made to improve visibility and rights for the LGBTQ+ community. But the police brutality that led to the death of George Floyd in late May and the global protests in support of racial equality that followed, brought Pride back to its roots, expressing solidarity for those most vulnerable to injustice, including black trans individuals. As people continue to take to the streets, we asked LGBTQ+ designers, architects, and artists to share their thoughts on what Pride means in this historic year marked by isolation and activism, and a Supreme Court victory that protects the rights of LGBTQ+ people in the workplace.

Rayman Boozer, CEO and Principal Designer of Apartment 48

In 2020, freedom of expression is more relevant than ever. Industry leaders have learned that celebrating the equality of race, gender, sexual orientation, and identity is both morally correct and good for business. The creation of niche guilds, such as the Black Artists + Designers Guild, have helped spur this worldwide awakening. And what better industry to explore the merits of diversity than design? As a designer, my goal is to create unique, colorful stories and visuals to enhance the world around me. And the more that the world supports me, the better able I am to do my work and create beautiful things.

Michael Deitz, Designer at Kripper Studio

Pride fundamentally began as a protest against police brutality. Fifty years later that fact has never been more prescient in the midst of the current cultural moment. For me, Pride is exactly what it is supposed to be this year: a protest. Black trans women are responsible for starting Pride in 1969; two black trans women were murdered this month in the year 2020. I’m angry and this year’s Pride will be about that anger; an anger not for “me” but for all of us... Design is inherently political. Nothing gets created in a vacuum which is why we must be hyper-critical of the implications of every design decision. It’s necessary to be abrasive in this approach. I’m reminded of the late Larry Kramer who was considered by many of his peers to be “too loud” in his method of activism. But it is that exact tenacity that the design world could benefit from. We need every LGBTQI+ designer to claim their seat at the table to ask the right questions and ask them loudly.

Cheryl Riley, Artist, Designer, & Art Advisor

This year marked two amazing watersheds in acceptance and protections for the civil rights of LGBTQ+ peoples. First, was the presidential run by an out gay politician who polled much better across many demographics and regions than had been expected. The second was the Supreme Court ruling to extend protections against employment discrimination to LGBTQ+ people... I began my design career in San Francisco which was one of the most accepting cities in America for the LGBTQ+ community, so I cannot say I faced any challenges on that front—instead, it may have been an advantage. I faced more discrimination because of my race and gender based on disclosures about the decision-makers' discussions shared with me by sympathetic staff members... Design and all disciplines can foster social change by acknowledging and removing prejudice from the equation when choosing the ideas of designers, which should be solely based on the quality of our work.

Chad James, Founder of Chad James Group

I’m often reminded of what I’m proud of and this year seems to have my thoughts in an unparalleled feeling of gratitude. I'm thankful for the love and support of family and friends who stand strong with me as we travel this journey. I consider myself to be extremely fortunate, as I’ve never felt that there were any challenges placed on me due to being gay. I’ve always surrounded myself with clients and other professionals who saw me for something more than just my sexuality. Professionals—and many of us are business owners—have a responsibility to stand tall and be the light in the world. Through knowledge we are able to evolve, and grow to the humans we are intended to be. We can and must do better as a design community.

Tyler Hill, Interior Designer at Mitchell Hill

I think while the
Organizations Mentioned: (6)
Apartment 48
New York, New York, USA
Interior Design
Chad James Group
Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Architecture, Interior Design
Iatesta Studio
Stevensville, Maryland, USA
Products, Furniture, Lighting, Accessories, Textiles
Kripper Studio
Buston, Massachusetts, USA
Architecture, Interior Design
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Interior Design