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It’s near impossible to describe love. It’s a feeling like no other. Both cosmic and calm; heated and healing; chaotic and comforting. It’s a kaleidoscopic explosion of energy. It’s a forcefield of colossal strength. It can be screamed at the top of your lungs on the highest mountain, or felt without uttering a word. We manifest this universal feeling in our own unique love languages. Love is the most natural human sensation and we all have the power to share it with ourselves and to those around us. Receiving love is just as pleasurable. Get into it! In summary, the reality is, you just can’t describe love.

So, this summer, Calvin Klein have poignantly named their Pride campaign ‘This is Love’. When love is such a nuanced force, it’s best to let the images do all the sweet talking. Calvin Klein debuted a beautiful collection of images that dived into the wondrous waters of queer chosen families. Building family portraits under a golden basking glow, the message was clear: love is pure happiness. Love allows you to build homes, communities and safe spaces. Love allows you to be seen and heard. Love allows you to find your soulmates in all shapes and forms. Love is limitless. But don’t be fooled, Calvin Klein knows Pride is not just reserved for the summer. It’s eternal.

Inspired by the importance of chosen families, GAY TIMES thought about our own extended creative chosen family. We wanted to shine our own spotlight on the writers, artists, visionaries and imagineers, who play an integral role in building the gorgeous content we provide to the queer community every day. We sent an open invitation to five of these radiant family members, who you will meet throughout this campaign, and asked them to write a love letter to their chosen family. It truly is a queer chain reaction and vibration of love. This is love. 

Through the coming weeks you will get to know each of GAY TIMES’ chosen family members in even more vibrant depth, and in even more Calvin Klein designs – online and across our social platforms. They all undoubtedly have different superpowers connected to love, but the universal message is the same: Love never stops. It’s all around us and everywhere we go. Queerness is love. You are love. We are love. This is LOVE.

You can shop the full This Is Love collection here.

Sam Moir-Smith
23, Trans Activist Researcher, Speaker, Model

Sam is strength and radiance personified. We first met Sam for our April 2022 cover shoot. Centring the issue on the mission statement, ‘there’s no LGBT without the T’, Sam was a part of an ensemble cast of trans and non-binary models who are revolutionising the fashion industry in their own unique way. Proving one size and look cannot fit all.

In his love letter, Sam radiates love to Josh, his ‘Trans Guardian’. Sam pens: ‘‘You created a safe space for me to talk with someone whose experience of life and materiality mirrored that of my own. It turns out you were precisely the person I needed to meet at that point in time; you were the first person to tell me what being trans meant, and your willingness to share your story with me prompted my own coming out as a trans man’.

Sam and Josh’s love transcends being trans though. Sharing a mutual love for tattoos and Golf Wang clothing, alongside the trans experience, their friendship is a glorious, and everlasting connection. ‘Thank you for a decade of wonderful friendship, one that has seen us both grow in unpredictable but astonishing ways. You’re an absolute blessing in my life and someone I’ll always look up to. I can’t wait to see you soon’.”

Huss Al-Chokhdar
23, Artist and Performer

Huss is a true visual artist. We met Huss in the Spring of 2021, when lockdown was lifting and optimism was coming back in waves. Our first feature with Huss explored the power behind his live performance art pieces. As a queer Arab, he combines multiple disciplines like audio, installations, sculptures, to shine healing light on personal and cultural issues, all in an immersive, creative space.

Huss dedicates his love letter to the city of Glasgow. He reflects: “I moved to your city as a teenager who did not know his place in the world. Fast forward to five years later and I am proud of the authentic, unapologetic and brave person you have encouraged me to be. You welcomed me, my art and my story and stood by my side.”

When facing the possibility of being sent back to the Middle East, due to an expiring Visa, the city and his community gave him the power to fight for his place. “Caitlin, Drew, Deej, Alex, Zaynab and all of my Glasgow chosen family, thank you for bringing me back to life.” Huss’ performance usually centers on him concealing his face with a mask, but for this campaign, the mask is placed to the side and we can truly see love shine from every pore.

Yelita Ali
23, Creative, Director and Filmmaker

Yelita is vibrancy and creative intelligence. Yelita joined the GAY TIMES team in the summer of 2021 as Junior Creative. Now flourishing at Ridley Scott Creative Group, Yelita interjected her unique perspective and insatiable work ethic into numerous projects and campaigns at GAY TIMES. To be in a team meeting with Yelita was like inhaling an electric boost of pure comfort and confidence. She sends her letter to her childhood friend Emily.

In exploring female queer strength together, she says: “There are so many aspects of my adult queer self who’s roads lead back to you and the incredible way you changed the trajectory of my life. I wish all young women would come of age and have the incredible opportunity to love and be loved by someone like you.” When reflecting on the loving friendship with Emily, Yelita concludes: “You seemed to be one of the few people who truly saw me, not the projection of myself I wanted them to believe, but the me who I was always meant to be.” Love can be just that. A mystical mirror that shines back everything you need to know to evolve and grow.

Emily Wood
26, Professional makeup artist and face decorator

Emily is a love chalice full of water that is pouring over. The fountain of love is overflowing. That is the impact of her energy and kindness. We met Emily in the winter of 2020, where she was the makeup artist on one of our fashion editorials. Since then, Emily is a reserved favourite to paint the faces of the many people that have been featured throughout GAY TIMES editorial shoots. It’s not just the makeup skill that we admire, but it’s the radiating positivity she brings to every room and set.

She writes her letter to her best friend Vicky, aka Tally Beans: “As somebody who was internally questioning her sexuality, whilst growing up in a suburban, heteronormative area, it felt safe to have a friend who was so radically accepting. Although it wouldn’t be till years later that I come out and tell you I’m queer, watching you always questioning the norms and conventions was so special and important.” It’s the notion of being the example rather than the lesson, the healing and honest power of love can be soaked up by the receiver. “There is no one on this planet like you, Tally Beans.”

Sabah Choudrey
32, Proud Trans Youth Worker, Speaker and Writer

Sabah is gentle strength and pure grace. They received the GAY TIMES Honour for Future Fighter at our annual awards show in 2021 for lending their powerful voice to trans rights and change, delivered with wisdom, calmness and peace. It’s trans youth who Sabah has dedicated their letter to.

Again and again you show me all the ways I can be free. Free from judgements, rulings, diagnosis. Free from gender, patriarchy, cisnormativity, white supremacy. Again and again you show me all the ways I can be me. Our spaces are safe, there’s room for it all. And you leave with a community, a chosen family and a name. You remind me that transition simply means to move. And we, trans, non-binary, gender non-conforming people, we move, we push, we pull, we migrate, situate, we diffuse, grow roots, we disperse and transverse across the universe.”

Sabah’s love is a cosmic power that truly is the most gentle of all forcefields. Transformation is seen as a soft awakening rather than a shattering hurricane under Sabah’s loving guidance.