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10 LGBTQ Influencers Share What Pride Means to Them

Every year, June 1 marks the start of Pride Month—a celebration of the flourishing LGBTQ+ community that aims to affirm their identities, increase their visibility, and stand up to the bigotry that they still face. Pride is celebrated each June to commemorate the Stonewall riots, which occurred at the end of June 1969.

Pride is marked by parades and celebrations across the globe. The New York City Pride March, for example, is one of the largest annual Pride marches in the world, and it passes by the Stonewall National Monument, which honors the 1969 riots that kickstarted the modern Pride movement.

The queer celebrity community has become more vocal and more visible in Pride events, and online activism, with artists from Emmy-winning actress Laverne Cox to influencer Plant Kween using their platforms to draw attention to the issues still facing members of the LGBTQ+ community, and to advocate for equity, justice, and freedom of expression.

LGBTQ+ Influencers Share What Pride Means to Them

To honor Pride in our own way, LIVEKINDLY reached out to several LGBTQ+ influencers and asked them to define what Pride means to them. We also inquired about how they use their platforms to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ rights, sustainability, food injustice, veganism, and more.

10 LGBTQ Influencers Share What Pride Means to Them
Eddie Garza is a plant-based chef, cookbook author, and host of a new vegan cooking series. | Eddie Garza

1 | Eddie Garza

Eddie Garza is a plant-based chef and cookbook author. He works to reform food systems in marginalized communities, which stems from his own childhood spent in Brownsville, Texas and encourages others to follow a plant-based diet.

To me, Pride is a time to honor the leaders of the past who used their influence to fight against an oppressive system that tried to silence or diminish LGBTQIA+ voices. It’s also a moment to celebrate our true selves and create safe spaces for all LGBTQIA+ folks to feel empowered and let go of fears, shame, and guilt,” Garza tells LIVEKINDLY.

I like to use my platform to showcase vegan food from a BIPOC perspective. On my social media, you’ll see yummy vegan dishes that call for affordable, easy-to-find ingredients that make vegan eating accessible to anyone trying to adopt or transition to a plant-based lifestyle,” he adds.

Garza also showcases plant-based versions of comfort food on his show, and hosts of “Global Bites with Eddie Garza” on Dr. Oz’s OzTube. Dishes include vegan eggs Benedict and Cuban ropa vieja.

10 LGBTQ Influencers Share What Pride Means to Them
Julia Feliz is the founder of Sanctuary Publishers, a publishing company that is explicitly anti oppression. | Julia Feliz

2 | Julia Feliz

Feliz has been a vegan for about 14 years and is the founder of Sanctuary Publishers, a non-traditional book publisher. Sanctuary Publishers’ most recent book, What Every Child Should Know, aims to instill awareness of social justice issues and community care within children.

I see Pride as the legacy of BIPOC radical resistance through trans and queer existence despite the historic erasure, silencing, decentering, and colonial genocide that still harms us for daring to celebrate who we are—all year-round, non-stop, day after day,” Feliz tells LIVEKINDLY.

In addition to their role at Sanctuary Publishers, Feliz is also an educator, ICAS independent scholar, illustrator, and content editor who wants to leave the world better than they found it. With that in mind, Feliz strives to raise the voices of human and non-human marginalized communities.

A few years ago, I coined the term and praxis, consistent anti-oppression, in an effort to build bridges and community between movements. There’s no consistency in social justice if we don’t understand our own hand in the oppression of all other living beings and how our choices and actions interconnect with our place on the oppressive hierarchy,” they explain.

Currently, Feliz is working to help NewPrideFlag, a nonprofit organization for and by the BIPOC Trans and Queer community, get off the ground and raise funds.

10 LGBTQ Influencers Share What Pride Means to Them
Christopher Griffin is best known as Plant Kween and cares for over 200 plants in their apartment. | Plant Kween

3 | Plant Kween (Christopher Griffin)

Christopher Griffin (who goes by he/she/they pronouns) was born and raised in West Philadelphia, and is currently based in Brooklyn, New York, where they work as the Assistant Director of the LGBTQ+ Center at New York University. Griffin also cares for over 200 plants in their little oasis of an apartment.

Griffin started their Instagram account as a way to share the lessons, lush adventures, and simple joys that come with caring for plants. Their social media presence is rooted in a journey of self-care and community building all through then the lush world of indoor horticulture

As a Black queer non-binary femme, Griffin enjoys exploring creative and accessible ways to use plants to spark conversations centering Black joy and reslience, LGBTQ+ advocacy, and the need to increase the visibility, representation, and empowerment of QTPOC (Queer and Trans People of Color).

They aspire to serve lush lewks and new growth realness right and bring folks along for the botanical ride.

For me, Pride is an opportunity to reflect on the ways we can continue to reimagine and deconstruct these tragic oppressive systems that weren’t built for LGBTQ+ folks in the first place,” Griffin tells LIVEKINDLY.

Griffin also has a message for their LGBTQ+ siblings:  “Let us honor our LGBTQ+ ancestors who have paved the way, by existing unapologetically, joyfully, and gratefully in our queerness! Let us continue to love ourselves and love each other, unconditionally!” they explain.

Let us continue to rise up and fight against the systemic oppression and violence our community experiences everyday! Let us enter spaces (virtual or in-person) with our heads held high, knowing that we are fierce, fabulous, and fearless! Let us remind the world that we’re here, we’re queer, and folks better get used to it!

10 LGBTQ Influencers Share What Pride Means to Them
Saryta Rodríguez just published their second book, a collection of essays written by food justice advocates. | Sophia Jane Stanford

4 | Saryta Rodríguez

Rodríguez is an author, editor, social justice advocate, and educator. Their writing focuses on food justice, veganism, race, and gentrification. Their first book, Until Every Animal is Free, challenges human supremacy and views animal liberation as the next step on the path of social justice. Rodríguez’s second book, Food Justice: A Primer, is a collection of essays written by food justice advocates.

To me, Pride consists of being confident about who you are and unwilling to let others define it for you. It happens when you stop worrying about what label best fits you, or what label others are using on you, and just start living your life,” Rodriguez explains to LIVEKINDLY. “It happens when you show solidarity with people who face constant oppression over their sexual and/or gender identity – even, and perhaps especially, if you don’t feel like that description applies to you.

Rodríguez adds that they are always willing to use their platform to speak to people at their experiences as a non-straight, non-binary person who follows a plant-based lifestyle, all of which they believe are rooted “in both a fundamental belief in the right of all sentient beings to autonomy and a strong desire to combat colonialism in all of its forms—from its influence on our lifestyles and daily decisions to the deeper ways in which it impacts our beliefs and understanding of the world around us.”

10 LGBTQ Influencers Share What Pride Means to Them
Frankie Mouche co-owns a café that works to create job opportunities for people on the autism spectrum. | Frankie Mouche

5 | Frankie Mouche (The Queer Vegan)

Frankie Mouche—AKA The Queer Vegan—is an autistic, nonbinary vegan who runs the popular Queer Vegan blog. Mouche is also the co-owner of a vegan café called Aubergine in Cardiff, Wales, which strives to create job opportunities for people on the autism spectrum.

Pride started as a response to police brutality in 1969, with the first parades happening across the world in the early 70s. Make no mistake, these were not the parties many of us enjoy today. They were protests and people risked their lives to attend,” Mouche explains. “Unfortunately, even with changes in the law that support the rights of LGBTQ+ people, society’s attitudes haven’t changed as drastically as some would have us believe. Hate crimes against our community [in the UK] have risen by 94 percent since 2016.

That surge is part of the reason why Mouche is committed to honoring Pride. “Pride will always be about fighting for equality and acceptance for me. It shouldn’t be about corporation buy in, purity culture, or glorifying oppressive organizations because they claim to tolerate their queer employees,” they add. “For this reason I have been actively involved in the long running Big Queer Picnic in Cardiff, Wales. It started as an inclusive DIY event that rejects commercialization and encourages people to be themselves in a safe environment.

Not surprisingly, a plant-based lifestyle is a large part of Mouche’s advocacy work and they use their platform to share vegan recipes and highlight issues that affect humans and animals.

10 LGBTQ Influencers Share What Pride Means to Them
Michelle Carrera’s nonprofit, Chilis on Wheels, strives to make plant-based food accessible to all. | Michelle Carrera

6 | Michelle Carrera

Carrera is a queer Puerto Rican vegan advocate who founded multiple non-profit organizations.

She is the founder of Chilis on Wheels, a nonprofit organization which strives to make plant-based food accessible. She also founded Case Vegana de la Comunidad, a vegan and sustainability center in Puerto Rico. She’s also a business owner. “I’ve been a vegan for 21 years, and most recently, spurred by my journey into veganic gardening. I started Plantbased Plants, selling veganic and renewable soil mixes, houseplants and herbs, and working with clients to transition their gardens to veganic growing methods,” she says.

Carrera views Pride as a means to celebrate important figures, as well as progress. “Pride is the commemoration of the brave people in the past, like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who fought for the right of queer people to live authentically and free,” she adds. “It’s a celebration of our true selves and having others see us as we see ourselves. It’s a strengthening of our community as we continue to forge ahead for visibility and the right to exist amidst a torrent of laws that seek to erase us.

Carrera continues: “On a personal level, Pride is a time to celebrate how far we’ve come to accept and love ourselves just as we are, so that we may thrive.”

10 LGBTQ Influencers Share What Pride Means to Them
Isaias Hernandez, an environmental educator, is known on social media as the Queer Brown Vegan. | Isaias Hernandez

7 | Isaias Hernandez

Known as the Queer Brown Vegan, Hernandez is an environmental educator who was born and raised in Los Angeles. His interest in environmental justice was spurred by his upbringing in a community that often faced environmental injustices.

Pride means to create a circular relationship with yourself, the environment, and your community. To seek to exist in multi-dimensional spaces,” he explains. “Sustainably loving ourselves is to have pride in who we are regardless of if we are out or not, and recognizing that we each hold unique relationships to the environment.

Hernandez uses his platform to educate his community about sustainable eating and food justice. He adds: “Creating a sustainable world requires pride in ourselves, whether it’s through cooking, education, or advocacy.

10 LGBTQ Influencers Share What Pride Means to Them
Owin Pierson’s online presence shares personal insights from his own life, including his mental health journey. | Owin Pierson

8 | Owin Pierson

Pierson is a LGBTQIA+, mental health, and AAPI influencer. His Instagram account provides insight into his life as a member of the LGBTQIA+ and AAPI communities, and he often shares his mental health journey in an effort to help others.

As someone who always felt like they came out ‘late’ and grew up in a very suppressed environment that didn’t allow myself to be free or talk about what being gay meant, I am honored to speak here and represent Queer Asian-Americans,” Pierson shares. “Growing up in a religious environment and Japanese household, I had a lot against me and with the narrative that beig gay ‘is bad’ and ‘gays go to hell’ it was a very toxic mindset for anyone’s mental health, let alone bringing in your own sexuality and identity.

Given his own struggles, Pierson is keenly aware of how crucial it is to make sure that others in similar situations feel seen and supported.

Pride to me means: total acceptance, kindness and love for those in your life. Differences truly make us special and able to learn and understand other people’s perspectives, regardless if we fully agree or understand, it’s important to at least accept who they are. To be kind to others and their journey and who they are, and love people with sincerity and a genuine heart. Now, all this is super great, but unfortunately it’s not this ideal,” he adds.

Despite the progress that has been made, Pierson explains that being open about queer identity still comes with of ridicule. “As a full-time social media influencer now for the last 5+ years, I’ve seen a spectrum of hate and acceptance that often felt the opposite of what I feel Pride is. Pride takes time. Pride is an individual self-love and self-acceptance journey.”

And because of the individual nature of everyone’s journey, Pierson doesn’t want others to feel pushed or rushed. Instead, he wishes to have open and honest conversations about identity and coming out that hopefully make others feel at ease.

I want it to be so a part of society and life, that all of us in this community can feel free to be ourselves, no matter how simple, extravagant or anything in between they want to be. Pride to me is more than just your LGBTQIA+ Label, it’s the feeling, it’s the thoughts, and the actions of your life and the loved ones and environment around you being equally full of Pride for you,” he says.

Since Pierson is a content creator, his platform is himself, which is part of the reason why he strives to be as candid as possible in his posts, whether he writes about his mental health, his biracial background, being a gay influencer, or his love of food and travel.

As for why he shares, Pierson sees himself as an author at heart and hopes to inspire others. He believes that everyone has a story worthy of being heard. “Just be a kind person, learn forgiveness and surround yourself with the love you so freely give. I hope that by doing my best and just trying everyday to learn and grow and show up for myself, it can inspire others to do the same for themselves online and/or offline.”

10 LGBTQ Influencers Share What Pride Means to Them
Barry Hoy runs a globe-trotting blog called Asianmapleleaf where he also showcases his life with his partner to “inspire others to accept love is love.” | Barry Hoy

9 | Barry Hoy

Hoy, who describes himself as “an avid world traveler” runs the Asianmapleleaf travel blog. The blog documents his globetrotting journeys that allow him to experience other cultures and try food from different parts of the world. It also addresses Hoy’s own journey in self-discovery as a gay Canadian currently living in New York City.

For me, Pride is about being proud and happy with who you are without having to worry about what others think you should be. Life is too short to not live your life as your true authentic self. I think the more we talk and show our rainbow during Pride and year round, the more we would be heard and hopefully understood,” he  shares. “I always try to use my platform to showcase my life with my partner, as an intergaycial couple, to hopefully inspire others to accept love is love.

10 | Kate Flowers

In her early life, Flowers, who identifies as queer, dealt with drug abuse and eating disorders, and now she lives a holistically healthy lifestyle that includes a vegan diet. She is the author of several vegan cookbooks and she shares new recipes via her popular blog and YouTube channel.

To me, Pride is all about accepting ourselves exactly as we are and celebrating love in all of it’s beautiful forms. I’m in a ‘heteronormative’ looking relationship but consider myself queer and have predominantly dated women my entire life,” she explains. “Especially now that my pride is less visible, I try to be a voice for everyone in the community who feels unseen or invalid. I think it’s important to understand that who you’re dating doesn’t have to define your sexuality.”

Flowers adds: “The LGBTQ world is complex sometimes but I think pride is a great way for us to let go of any judgements we may have and try to understand and accept each other for who we are.

Flowers also makes a point to use her platform in ways that help people and the planet through her recipes. “It’s rewarding to know that delicious food can be a more subtle form of activism. I know the world likely won’t change overnight but each person who decides to swap out a ‘standard’ meal or two for a plant-based one each day is making a difference! And for me, that’s a win.”

 

top photograph collage by Eileen W. Cho

Written by Samantha Leffler

Written for and originally published on LIVEKINDLY

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