With so many local Pride festivities canceled or scaled back over the last year, model and photographer Nikki Kubik set out to celebrate the best way she knew how—by making art.
Kubik partnered with other creatives in northeast Ohio and beyond to develop “We Are Pride,” an LGBTQ+-focused photo project.
The photoshoot took place May 16, and featured 18 models dressed in the colors of the rainbow flag. Kubik hopes the project helps people celebrate the beauty of Pride and raise awareness of the diverse identities in the LGBTQ+ community.
“Everybody involved in this project, from the models to makeup artists to photographers, the videographer and behind-the-scenes people, are all in the LGBTQ+ community,” she says.
The Buckeye Flame spoke with Kubik about the origins of “We Are Pride,” the beauty and diversity in the LGBTQ+ community, and her hopes for the project.
How did the “We Are Pride” photoshoot come together?
It started last May when I realized that Pride in the CLE wasn’t happening. I was going through pictures, and I wanted to make something artful and creative. So, I created a collage of images from previous photoshoots and arranged them in the color scheme of the rainbow flag and the trans flag. “We Are Pride” developed from talking to other artists and discussing how it would be cool to expand on the collage concept with individual people representing each color. From there, it grew during conversations in Cleveland and then in some of my networking travels in Columbus, Toledo, and Pittsburgh.
Can you talk more about the models?
We love the diversity that we have. The models range in ages from 15 to 60. We’re happy to show that the community is filled with people from all different generations. The models also come from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and represent every letter of the LGBTQ+ community. So far, everybody involved in this project, from the models to makeup artists to photographers to videographer to behind-the-scenes people, are all in the LGBTQ+ community.
Who dressed the models in their colorful clothing?
The models provided their own clothes. Some people thrifted. Some people bought new. Some people reached into their wardrobe. And some actually borrowed clothes. Oh, you’re wearing green? I have a green dress. It’s been very community building.
What do you want “We Are Pride” to accomplish?
To communicate that people can wear their Pride with pride. Even though June is Pride Month—we are Pride all the time. We can represent Pride throughout the whole year. It doesn’t have to be a specific time of year for people to come out.
And also, there are still bubbles inside the community. We don’t want people to section themselves off in their own bubbles. We want the community to be a community. Somebody who is gay or does drag, they might live in their bubble. Maybe they don’t have interactions with somebody who identifies as lesbian or somebody who identifies as asexual. But you can learn just by being there alongside others and hearing their stories.
Do you think you’ll continue “We Are Pride” in the future?
Absolutely. I would like to expand next year and go even bigger than just the Pride flag. I’d like to have the representative flags and colors of people from other specific identities—whether that be bisexual, pansexual, asexual, whatever that may be. Our hope is to add more color, more beauty and more diversity. We actually do want to grow this, and we do plan on doing this again next year.