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HomeBlogGet to Know our Pride Collection Collaborators

Get to Know our Pride Collection Collaborators

We love what we do at EyeBuyDirect (and we mean, love), but getting the chance to chat with LGBTQ members from across the U.S. for our Freedom Collection collab? Took that love to a whole new level. Maybe you follow some of these inspiring changemakers on Insta already, or maybe you’re just getting acquainted, but you’re in for a thought-provoking read with some of our future’s best and brightest. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and enjoy the awesome interviews we put together with these all-stars. 

Anthony Walker 

A person wearing rainbow-colored eyeglasses

 @antwtff

EyeBuyDirect: Hi Anthony! Tell us a little bit about what makes you unique. 

Anthony: “A plethora of challenges, self-discovery, and unique, personal innovation has made me into the powerhouse of creativity and originality I am today. Looking to the past, as I was once told in my childhood: “Those who don’t know history are bound to repeat it.” I make it a mission to learn about the past and bring it forth in a subtle, modern fashion. I feel in a world of trends, and subsequent chasers, it is quite unique to find someone who can channel the past near undetectably.” 

Where did you grow up in the U.S., and what was it like for you?

“Jackson and De Kalb, Mississippi are both very rural, under-developed (in the eyes of a Western nation) parts of the country, tucked away in eerie forests that speak stories of days past. It holds a strong history, and as a black person, you can feel the energy of ancestors quell through the land, air, and earth. That being said, traditions of days past still have a tight hold on the people who inhabit the area, making those who are forward-thinkers get shunned. Although it may feel as though ignorance is celebrated, I feel change has made a decent amount of way through the land!” 

What’s your advice for how people can make a difference in their communities? 

“Listen. Unlearn. Inform. Repeat. I’ve found it is so important to allow yourself the ability to hear out those you don’t know, as you will learn more about yourself, and the collective humanity, as it is done. Unlearn prejudices, malice, and ill-will towards those you fear because of that former lack of knowledge. Inform yourself on the realities of those folks, as well as those around you when time permits— and repeat!” 

What does love mean to you? 

“Love is: Everything. It is what allows humans to be innovative, expressive, care, and build community. Humans NEED a tribe in order to thrive, and love is at the root of that. If everyone loved more, outside of the typical contexts of romantic and familial, the world would be a much more safe and advanced place.”

How do you express your freedom to be you?

“I think by being a black NB person, having roots in one of the most previously enslaved states, my life in itself is an expression of freedom. The world is quite literally set up for me to fail, so, for me to wake up another day, smile, walk outside, and enjoy (if only at times a portion of) the liberties of other folks, is freedom in its purest form.”

What are some of your wardrobe essentials for expressing yourself during pride month?

“Glitter!!! For some reason, I feel ever-so-inclined to drench myself in the little shards of biodegradable flakes (yes, biodegradable non-plastic glitters exist! Use them!!). I am also a huge fan of color-blocking, and incorporating lots of neons into my makeup.”

What makes this year’s pride so important? 

“Given the racial-societal shift at hand, there is a true intersection of identities at play for once. I think that’s most fitting given we wouldn’t have Pride Month without a Black Trans Woman (Marsha P. Johnson)… right?”

How are you celebrating pride this year?

“Throwing on an incessant amount of glitter, playing my favorite artists, and donating to/uplifting black trans women!!!” 

How has your pride changed your perspective on life?

“It has brought me together with so many friends, a career, and opportunities my younger self would have only ever dreamt of being included in. I’ve worked with inspirations of mine, idols even, and met literal stars. Pride has brought me to places beyond what was ever provided for me to visualize for myself, and that’s why I think it’s so important.” 

Why is it important to inspire the next generation to be proud of who they are?

“So that people can live without the nagging question of “Am I supposed to be here?” No one should EVER have to question their existence. Period.” 

 

John Johnson

A person wearing glasses with rainbow paint on their face

@joshjjo

EyeBuyDirect: Hi Josh! Tell us a little bit about what makes you unique. 

Josh: “I think something that makes me unique is the fact that I grew up in a very conservative environment that made me feel like something was wrong with me for most of my life. It took me 23 years to finally be accepting and love myself for being gay, and for who I am.” 

Where did you grow up in the U.S., and what was it like for you?

“I grew up moving around all different parts of California for a lot of my childhood, until my family decided to move to Washington and experience living in the surrounding areas of Seattle, and am now currently living in Salt Lake City, Utah. I’m so grateful to be able to have experienced living in diverse areas with different cultures, ways of thinking, and living.” 

What does love mean to you? 

“Love to me is complete acceptance and deep affection/connection with someone. It’s unconditionally wanting them to be happy, to succeed, to be able to be themselves, to feel safe and protected always. Love to me is being able to give all of your heart to someone.”

How do you express your freedom to be you?

“A lot of how I express myself and the freedom to be myself is through photography, fashion, and just being confident. I love the creative process of taking artistic photos and being able to express my emotions through those photos. A lot of the time I incorporate fashion and style into photography as well. Confidently wearing what I want to wear whether it be clothing, jewelry/accessories, or even tattoos, has made me finally feel like I’m able to express that freedom and be my own person.”

What are some of your wardrobe essentials for expressing yourself during pride month?

“Typically on a day-to-day basis I like to stick to neutral colors and tones, occasionally throwing in a pop of color to a look. Pride month helps me to get out of my comfort zone by throwing in a lot more color and brightness to an outfit to represent togetherness, freedom, and natural beauty inside and out, since all members of the LGBTQ community come from diverse backgrounds and are unique in their own beautiful way.”

What makes this year’s pride so important? 

“Coming together with the Black Lives Matter Movement of 2020 will make this year’s Pride so powerful and historic in the acceptance of every single person, no matter who they are, where they are from, or what they are/want to be. I am so happy that the Black Lives Matter Movement happened to collide with Pride Month because I think it will bring much more awareness and passion to actually bringing about changes in society, making a difference in equality and acceptance for all human beings everywhere.”

How are you celebrating pride this year?

“Due to COVID-19, I know that most things are being canceled this year but that doesn’t mean you can’t show and celebrate your Pride. I will be confidently expressing myself and showing how happy and proud I am to be gay through social media, and why it’s ok to be proud. I am going to attend virtual Pride events, participate in local (and safe) ones, such as marches and service activities, and celebrate those who have paved the way that gives me the freedom to be gay.”

Why is it important to inspire the next generation to be proud of who they are?

“There is so much hate/shame that comes along with not accepting yourself. A lot of the time that hate and shame can even be taught, and causes people not only to hate themselves but to hate others as well. Inspiring the next generation to express self love and be proud of who they are will bring about positive change in the way that everyone is treated in society.”

 

The Angelinos 

Two people wearing sunglasses and holding each other's faces

@theangelinos

EyeBuyDirect: Hi Ariana and Hannah! Tell us a little bit about what makes you unique. 

Ariana & Hannah: “We are an interracial lesbian couple living in Los Angeles/Palm Springs, and we are both professional creatives!”

Where did you grow up in the U.S., and what was it like for you?

Ariana: “I was born and raised in Pasadena, a city in Los Angeles, CA.”

Hannah: “I was born in Savannah, GA and moved around when I was a kid. But once my family moved to Southern California, we never looked back! I moved to Los Angeles for college and met Ariana.”

What’s your advice for how people can make a difference in their communities? 

“Our favorite way to stay involved in the community is through education. We always say that we stand for inclusivity and visibility above all else, and that is our mission. Other ways that we love to give back to our community include donating to nonprofits supporting Black and LGBTQ+ people, and sharing their amazing missions so that more people can learn about and support them.”

What does love mean to you? 

Ariana: “To me, love is feeling at home with someone. Hannah is the most comforting person to me, and I feel safe whenever I am with her. She is my safe space and that is love to me.”

Hannah: “Love is honesty and openness. It takes a long time to feel completely open with someone, but Ariana is the person who understands me the best of anyone. She knows me and loves me for how I am — flaws and all.”

How do you express your freedom to be you?

Ariana: “I express my freedom to be me through my clothes. Clothes have always been my primary way I express myself, and wearing something that I feel represents me is my favorite feeling.”

Hannah: “I express my freedom through vocal expression probably most of all. I am a talker — I don’t like to keep secrets or feel like I have to hide. So my freedom is through how I literally express myself!”

What are some of your wardrobe essentials for expressing yourself during pride month?

“Of course, we love the Power frame from the EyeBuyDirect Freedom Collection! Glasses and sunglasses in general are huge style staples for us. We each have a monumental collection! The rainbow frame of the Power really tops off any of our Pride looks.”

What makes this year’s pride so important? 

“This year’s Pride is so important because we have seen unprecedented activism in support of Black lives and drastically changing the way that law enforcement functions in this country. Fighting against institutional racism has in many ways been a wakeup call for the LGBTQ+ community, and we have found even more Pride and community through this fight. We are getting back to our roots as a community and fighting for what is right!”

How are you celebrating pride this year?

“We will be celebrating Pride through activism, sharing educational resources, and being a good example for our community. We will actually be marching in LA on June 14th as a part of the demonstration in support of the Black Lives Matter movement! The first Pride at Stonewall was led by Black trans women, and this year is the 50th anniversary. This year is the best time to honor that!”

How has your pride changed your perspective on life?

“For LGBTQ+ people, Pride is something that is within all of us and just needs to be awakened. Pride is a part of shedding the stigma and shame that can sometimes accompany coming out as LGBTQ+. For both of us, being comfortable with who we were and discovering our sense of Pride was a process, and it has made us more open and happy!”

Why is it important to inspire the next generation to be proud of who they are?

“The next generation is everything, and growing up without stigma is the next step to a more accepting society! We will always be here to show young people that happiness and acceptance are out there, and that love is attainable for all LGBTQ+ people.”

 

Connor G

A person wearing glasses and a blue tank top

@connorgunner

EyeBuyDirect: Hi Connor! Tell us a little bit about what makes you unique. 

Connor: “I never back away from a new opportunity. I see the scariest and most daunting experiences as the ones I can grow the most from. One of my defining life experiences was moving to Los Angeles to work in entertainment after graduating from College in the northeast. I had very little money, and no job prospects…What could go wrong? I lived in 4 different places over 7 months. Couch hopping, living with 5 roommates in a room at times, working at Starbucks to make ends meet. But I eventually found my footing job wise, and found a base of amazing friends, and consider LA to be my home. I have used life experiences like this move to LA to help grow my confidence, and inspire myself to keep taking risks to grow as an individual.”

Where did you grow up in the U.S., and what was it like for you?

“I am from a very small town called Dunstable, MA. I lived there until I was 18, then I was off to college in Rhode Island and Connecticut. I never really vibed with MA to be honest. My friend base was never solely there, and I always worked as a teen in New Hampshire. When I got to college in RI, I discovered a whole new world of people, particularly in the LGBTQ community: A community I had not been around in high school. Meeting friends in this community helped me come out during my sophomore year, and help others to gain the confidence to do so as well. Now my family lives in NH full time, and I am living with them during the COVID pandemic. I love it up here. It is beautiful, and I have found some really great old and new friends in the area to hang with (social distancing allowing!)”

What’s your advice for how people can make a difference in their communities? 

“In Los Angeles, where I have lived for the past three years, I was very active in the social community. I regularly helped promote events over the summers, have attended fundraisers for the LGBTQ center, and attended the Elton John Oscars party twice (in which all the proceeds go towards the Elton John Aids Foundation). In addition to these, I use my social media platform to promote my own gay pride and confidence, and answer questions with others it the community who write to me about their own experiences as coming out around the world.”

What does love mean to you? 

“Love means everything to me. Everything for me comes back to love. One of my biggest goals in life is to get married and have a family, because I loved being brought up in a family. I love having big family reunions, and seeing so many people come together every few years and express such love for one another. I even love the drama that comes with big families! I know my career will be a very scattered line of different jobs and roles, but one thing I know I want in my future is to have a family of my own with a husband that I love.” 

How do you express your freedom to be you?

“In light of what has been going on in our country with Black Lives Matter, I have been thinking about my own freedom a lot, and the privileges I have being free. I owe a great deal of my freedom to Black LGBTQ members who fought for it years ago. Without their movements, I would not be accepted for who I am today. Who I am today is a very confident gay man, with the privilege to identify that way and feel love from my friends and family. I have learned to never take that love I feel for granted, because so many people before me, and still today in the LGBTQ community, struggle to find that acceptance and love.”

What are some of your wardrobe essentials for expressing yourself during pride month?

“I am all about rainbows! I have rainbow bandanas, workout clothing with hints of rainbows, my new freedom glasses (obviously!), and more. It is unfortunate that there won’t be festivals and parades this year, but I plan on using my outfits to promote Pride and awareness on social media, and hopefully some celebrating in small groups of friends. My go-to Pride festival outfit would have been my rainbow bandana around my head, my freedom glasses, a bright blue tank top, my black gym shorts with a rainbow strap on the back, and my Pride converse sneakers.”

What makes this year’s pride so important? 

“I actually believe this year’s Pride may be the most meaningful Pride we have ever had as a country. With the inability to have parades and festivals, we are all forced to really consider what makes Pride so important, and where it came from, and who got us to the point where we can celebrate our love and equality so freely. There is a heavy mental aspect to prove this year. The parades, and festivals, and parties are so much fun, possibly the best experiences of my life, but I think sometimes when people are caught up in the novelty of those events, we can forget why they are really happening and what they really mean. Now we can reflect on why we have the opportunity and privilege to celebrate Pride. No bright parade floats, or crazy festivals with blasting music and dancing, just truly understanding and talking to each other about our love for one another, and the freedom we have now to do just that.”

How are you celebrating pride this year?

“I plan to celebrate Pride by actively using my social media platform to encourage others to celebrate. For myself, I am planning to spend a weekend with some close friends and my twin sister, who identifies as bi-sexual, and have a safe celebration of our own.”

How has your pride changed your perspective on life?

“Pride has given me the confidence to not only be who I truly am, but present myself to the world without worrying that I will be hated to hurt. Pride allows me to unapologetically love who I love, and hold hands with guys I like in public without being worried about strangers glances, or that I could be hurt by the way I identify. More importantly, it has opened my eyes to other countries that aren’t as accepting. It breaks my heart when I get a message on instagram from a person in another country who is struggling to come out because they are scared to be disowned by family, or deported, or even killed for being who they are. We are so fortunate to not only accept love of all kinds, but have a month of the year dedicated to love in all its forms. And I will never take that for granted.” 

Why is it important to inspire the next generation to be proud of who they are?

“It is important to be proud in order to grow into our best selves. I never would have accomplished moving across the country and finding a strong community if I did not love myself and feel support from my loved ones. The LGBTQ community has been so accepting to me, and I want nothing more than for all LGBTQ people to feel that love and support. My Pride defines me. It gives me confidence in my life, career, friendships, and relationships. The next generation deserves to feel Pride in who they are just like me.”

“The second we stop being proud of who we are, the other side wins. There is no one way to love. We are all different and we all feel love in different ways, and that is beautiful! Although we have Pride, the fight is never over, and there are still states that enforce discrimination toward the LGBTQ community. No one should ever feel ashamed of their sexuality or gender, so the momentum must keep moving forward, in my generation and the generations after me.” 

 

Jordan Gonzalez 

A person wearing light-blue glasses

@jordanlgonzalez

EyeBuyDirect: Hi Jordan! Tell us a little bit about what makes you unique. 

Jordan: “I love the word “unique” because we are all puzzles composed of pieces of personality, life experiences, knowledge, and emotions which make each of us unique in our own very different ways. Through each of our given experiences, we have different perspectives on life which make us unique, even within the LGBTQ+ community. For me, my “uniqueness” comes from being a first generation Cuban American, raised in the south and identifying as a man of Transgender experience.”

Where did you grow up in the U.S., and what was it like for you?

“I’m originally from a small town just outside of Atlanta, GA, called Roswell (despite the name, there unfortunately were not any aliens). I went to Catholic school all the way through high school, and came out at the age of 16. It didn’t feel authentic for me to continue to hide in the shadows when I knew there was nothing wrong with who I am. I would have rather walked through the hallways as me, then lied to myself about who I truly was.”

What’s your advice for how people can make a difference in their communities? 

“Activism comes in many forms, from volunteering your time, to mentorship, to having educational conversations with allies. While all of these are important, I believe it’s especially important to shed light and educate others on the struggles the transgender community faces. In the past year, one in three transgender youth reported attempting suicide, almost one-third reported being a victim of sexual violence, and more than half reported a two-week period of depression. Additionally, violence against trangender people of color, particularly, black transgender women, have skyrocketed in the past year. It’s our job to speak up, educate, and inact policy change for protection of our transgender youth and transgender brothers and sisters of color.”

What does love mean to you? 

“Love to me is acceptance, and an important element of it is self-acceptance and self-love. We must begin with loving (accepting) ourselves and then using that energy to fill up others’ cups.”

How do you express your freedom to be you?

“By existing. By being openly and authentically myself. By choosing to be visible for those who may not be able to be, and for young folks who may be questioning their gender identity.”

What are some of your wardrobe essentials for expressing yourself during pride month?

“I feel the most confident in well-tailored denim and a t-shirt.”

What makes this year’s pride so important? 

“In addition to the inability to come together physically, which has challenged us to create togetherness in different ways than ever before, Pride is so important this year to bring our fight back to our roots. We would not have our LGBTQ+ privileges that we get to enjoy today without the Stonewall Riots, which were led by Marsha P. Johnson and many other BIPOC. It’s extremely important for us to use our privileges and voices to stand with the Black Lives Matter movement. None of us are equal until all of us are equal. So this year Pride is about intersectionality.”

How are you celebrating pride this year?

“This year I joined the  Los Angeles LGBTQ+ community by marching for Black Lives Matter on June 14th.”

Why is it important to inspire the next generation to be proud of who they are?

“It’s important to continue to live our lives openly and authentically so there is proper representation in the world. As a young kid growing up in rural Georgia, there was zero representation of the LGBTQ+ community in my life. Without representation I had no one to look up to, and no one to relate to, which created this narrative of otherness in my mind. It wasn’t until I moved to Los Angeles that I saw and met a community of people who identified similarly to me. It’s important for our LGBTQ+ young people to see other people like them in society so that they feel represented, inspired and motivated to be their best selves. Every kid deserves someone to look up to, and made to feel loved and accepted.”

 

Hannah Saffer

A person wearing rainbow-colored glasses

@hannah_zane

EyeBuyDirect: Hi Hannah! Tell us a little bit about what makes you unique. 

Hannah: “Something that makes me unique is that I enjoy helping and teaching others to be the best versions of themselves. I tend to see the good in all situations which helps me motivate others to stay optimistic.”

What does love mean to you? 

“Love is so many things. Love is vulnerability, love is security, love is respect, love is patient, and most importantly, love is equality.”

How do you express your freedom to be you?

“I express my freedom by simply doing the things I love, and by being around those I love and who love me. I also really enjoy art, and I find that to be a great way to express who I am as an individual.”

What makes this year’s pride so important? 

“I believe this year’s Pride is especially important because not only are we celebrating the 50th year, but because of everything going on in the world. It’s super important to use our voices even more to come together and show the world what Pride and the LGBTQ community is all about. It’s also important to be a platform on social media for those who are still struggling to come out, and help make them feel comfortable with who they are and who they love.”

How are you celebrating pride this year?

“I will be celebrating Pride this year with my amazing girlfriend, alongside our close friends and family. While doing our part in spreading the love we share with the rest of the world.”

Why is it important to inspire the next generation to be proud of who they are?

“I hope to inspire the next generation to find that love within themselves, because being happy, and loving yourself for who you were made to be, is such a crucial step to being proud of who you are. I know first hand, it might not be the easiest thing to do, but I promise it’s definitely the most important. Once you find that self-love, it will radiate in everything you do and every person you surround yourself with.”

Shop Our Pride Collection

 

Featured Frames
Freedom $19
Equality $35
Equality $35
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Featured Frames
Freedom $19
Equality $35
Equality $35
shop glasses