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We all know Pride and your own sense of Pride can be a colourful, kaleidoscopic affair, bursting with high voltage queer energy, unfallable chosen family spirit and an abundance of unapologetic, raw self expression. 

And when you put it like that, who wouldn’t want to bathe in these vibrant queer waters? But let’s face it. Even though the roads and pathways to your own self awakening can lead you to moments of celebration, confidence and self acceptance, that doesn’t mean that journey is smooth, generic or simple by any means. It can be uncomfortable, it can be delicate, it can be euphoric, it can be just about every adjective in the dictionary twice over.

But no matter how polarising and contrasting each experience can be, it’s the stories we share that weave us all together. It’s the personal and brave acts of stripping down the layers and unearthing your raw essence that unite, inspire and allow us to stand proud together.

It’s the importance of storytelling that inspired Calvin Klein’s ongoing campaign to celebrate the defining moments in the queer and trans journey. A continuation of the #proudinmycalvins movement, the campaign revisits the transformative events that shaped the lives of a diverse range of people from different parts of the world at different moments in time.

Inspired by the stories shared throughout Calvin Klein’s #ProudInMyCalvins Pride campaign, we tasked GT133 – our sparkling cast of young queer creatives who represent the face of GAY TIMES on TikTok – to share and reflect on some proud moments that have shaped them to be the queer voices and forces they are today.

GT133 is a collective of eight next-gen LGBTQ+ content creators made up of Alisha, Elliot, Lou, Max, Sam, Shiann, Shiraz and Spencer. 

Memories of coming out can be intimate and impactful experiences, much like the one Alisha recalls for us. “I was in my room looking in the mirror and I just said it ‘I’m gay’. That moment was so freeing for me,” she says. It’s through a moment like this of self awakening that leads to collective queer experiences and that chosen family spirit is unanimously expressed throughout each GT133 member’s story.

Shiraz opens up about the power of showing raw authentic queer spirit online. They say: “My proud moment was my first video where I was openly gay and I got so much positive feedback that I was not expecting. I felt so accepted and valid and supported and just having an online queer community is so amazing it’s such a safe space.”

And when speaking about safe spaces, it’s no secret the queer club is the place to go. Confessions on the dancefloor is not a myth, it’s a rite of passage. Shiann shares their coming out story, which involved them telling their best friend. “I said, ‘Ash I have something to tell you: I like girls too.’ They literally let out the biggest smile, laughed and said ‘Shiann, we are literally at a gay club right now, also I knew this.’ I actually can’t tell you how many steps my phone recorded that day, we danced the night away surrounded by a community I never knew was so close. The feeling of liberation I experienced that night was something I had never felt before and something I’d never sacrifice again.” 

Finding someone you trust enough to confide in is a common thread. Sam recalls: “Coming out to my best friend at 13, was an important watershed moment for me. I think it’s my favourite memory because it started my journey of self discovery leading me to be here. Still learning nonetheless but being at a stage, where I can be free and happy and live unapologetically as me.” This freedom is definitely a euphoric feeling. Max adds: “I look at being gay as a gift, I get such an interesting oulook on life and I’ve met so many amazing people purely because of who I am.”

The experience and importance of being surrounded by like-minded allies and queer energies is explored in Elliot’s story. He says that “Trans Pride was the best reminder to be my authentic self always and to take Pride in who that is.” Pride was a pivotal event for Lou too, who adds: “I went to Pride in London twice before I even came out. I don’t think I realised it myself yet but I felt more comfortable there compared to any other event I’ve been to. Being able to surround myself with those confident queer people who paved the way for me.” 

For Spencer, their coming out journey was two-fold. “I remember talking to my dad about my gender identity and I was trying to explain to him that I didn’t feel like a girl but I didn’t even know what that meant to me yet and he just looked at me and said, ‘You don’t have to conform to anything you don’t feel connected too’. That was such a powerful moment for me and I realised I could feel Pride in my gender identity as well as my sexuality.”

The common ground between sexuality and gender identity builds the foundation of support at the heart of the queer community, regardless of one’s struggles. Proving that it is the community spirit, support and love that can uplift, give confidence and much needed reassurance. Queer safe spaces can exist anywhere from physical Pride events, social media networks, and close friendships.

Shared stories and experiences validate thoughts and feelings that can at first feel isolating and alien. It’s through storytelling and raw representation that we bridge the gaps within our own identity and are lead to celebrate our own moments of Pride.

Calvin Klein partners with multiple non-profit organisations in support of LGBTQIA+ advocacy, equality, and safety. This year, Calvin Klein is proud to announce a two-year partnership with The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning young people. Through the partnership, Calvin Klein will use its platform to increase the knowledge of Trevor’s essential 24/7 crisis services and other mental health resources to help promote inclusion for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Explore Calvin Klein here.