LGBTQ+ creators shine a global spotlight on Pride and representation

Illustration of a group of people standing together holding rainbow flags.

“If I wait for someone else to validate my existence, it will mean that I’m shortchanging myself” - Zanele Muholi

This quote from Zanele Muholi, one of the world’s most acclaimed photographers and a preeminent non-binary activist, rings truer than ever today. More than 50 years after the Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, LGBTQ+ representation has taken a major leap forward thanks to the growing community of creators and artists around the world promoting a deeper understanding of LGBTQ+ life.

During Pride and every month, Adobe celebrates and supports the creative contributions and spirit of the LGBTQ+ community. June may be Pride month in the United States, but Pride is celebrated with parades almost every month across the globe. Our goal is to ensure all perspectives are seen and heard, creating greater opportunities for all creators to tell their stories, leading to a more vibrant and accepting world for all. This year, we celebrate by spotlighting LGBTQ+ creatives across the world.

European illustrators give the community a voice

Let’s start in France with Anna Wanda Goguesy. The illustrator, tattoo artist, and creative mind behind a number of progressive brands has taken on homophobia and transphobia through her art and podcast appearances. In fact, her illustration of Zanele Muholi’s immortal quote stands out as a charged reminder to people of all backgrounds and orientations that they not only have a voice in today’s society, but that people are eager to listen.

Anna also contributed to French national title Le Monde in June, illustrating the emancipation of LGBTQ+ students in France who struggled to affirm themselves and their identities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For her part, German Illustrator Sarah Alice Rabbit amplified Pride month with a three-part artwork focused on self-love, tolerance, and social responsibility. From behind her desk in Berlin, she creates illustrations that use vibrant colors to transmit poignant messages, from nuanced expressions of affection to calls for the end of homo-, trans-, bi- and interphobia.

“As artists, we have the opportunity to draw attention to grievances and intolerance and to give space to movements. Especially when it comes to equality, I think it’s a code of honor to stand up and be loud. Pride is not just a month, Pride is everyday life and that’s how it should be treated,” Rabbit says.

Japan’s creatives make pride a way of life

For some, Pride month is an opportunity to yell from the hilltops, but other artists prefer to tell their LGBTQ+ stories subtly, giving audiences a glimpse into their everyday lives. Regardless of how their stories are told, they remain deeply impactful.

Take Minmooba, a visual artist who identifies as they/them and specializes in video production. Minmooba participated in this year’s Adobe Creative Residency with a short video entitled The Daily Life of Ayame. Without drawing attention to their identity or preferences, Minmooba draws viewers into their world through small human interactions that tell big stories.

As an LGBTQ+ ally, Japanese designer Wayan set up her own branding company that seeks to deepen people’s understanding of gender. Her portfolio reflects what she calls “sophisticated inner beauty”, with a mission to unleash gender difference as a positive force. Wayan also participated in the Adobe Creative Residency, creating unique artwork specifically for Pride month.

Brazil goes big

Brazil’s LGBTQ+ community is as strong as they come, hosting South America’s largest pride parade and holding the accolade for the biggest Pride parade in the world starting in 2006 hosting 2.5 million people, so it was only fitting that Adobe collaborated with creators from across the country to make a Pride Month statement with real impact. Throughout June, our team in Brazil commissioned an individual piece of content from local photographers, illustrators, DJs, and all form of LGBTQ+ artists, piecing them all together to create a unique Pride-themed music video.

Contributors to the piece included the popular lesbian photographer, Lara Gama, trans non-binary illustrator and designer, Lune, and trans video editor Le Cardenuto, among many others. Original music for the video was composed by trans non-binary DJ, Tayan Ferreira, who is also a beatmaker for Rap Size Plus, a rap duo whose songs focus on modern feminism.

Adobe Insiders in America speak from the heart

For American creators Jess Bird and Noah Camp, Pride month was a both a moment of sharing and self-reflection. On top of the work they do every day on their respective Instagram handles and websites, both artists shared their thoughts on what makes Pride and their partnership with Adobe so important in today’s society:

“I see Pride as a journey from a lot of shame to self-acceptance, and it’s been a long road to get to a place where I truly embrace my identity. I acknowledge how far I’ve come and am proud of the work done to get to this point. The hope is to inspire others to do the same. If I can do it, anyone can. Now I can truly say that I’m proud to be trans and queer, and I happily and joyously say, I am queer AF,” says Camp. “And now I have a sticker to say it!” he adds, referring to a collection of stickers he created with fellow LGBTQ+ illustrators to raise money for the Trans Lifeline’s influential network.

“I created the stickers that I would want to see out there. They express my queer and trans pride in a way that’s unique to me. Adobe allows me to get my art into the world even faster and gives me the tools to bring my imagination into reality.”

For Jess Bird, who identifies as both queer and a “magic-maker” on her Instagram profile, Pride is a way of life built on moments big and small. “Pride is different and looks different for everyone — and it’s so much more than a month or a parade or a celebration. It’s not always loud and brightly colored and grand. It can also be quiet and sacred,” she says. “I encourage you to celebrate your Pride, your personhood, whatever way feels comfortable to you. Maybe that is loud and bright and exciting, and maybe that’s just writing a letter to yourself that says I love you. Either way, both good, both valid”.

Championing pride every day

Each country’s approach to Pride is different, but one constant links all of these creators and their initiatives together: they are all champions of love, acceptance and representation and create work within that narrative.

Globally, Pride may be celebrated differently and the LGBTQ+ community supported at varying degrees of acceptance, but creativity is the thread that weaves us all together — and together we’re all moving forward and making progress towards a more inclusive, represented world.