CELEBRATING PRIDE: LGBTQ+ ARTISTS, DESIGNERS, CREATIVES AND THINKERS THAT INSPIRE US
With Pride Month now upon us, we want to use our platform to spotlight some of our favourite LGBTQ+ artists, designers, creatives and thinkers. It’s an honour for us to celebrate the many contributions those we have included have made paving the way for greater equality, diversity, and inclusivity in the world – and, specifically, in art and design.
Brigette Baptiste’s work revolves around protecting the environment and the free expression of sexuality. Now 58, the Colombian queer ecologist – who transitioned back in the 1990s – is one of the world’s most influential environmental experts.
Earlier in her career, Baptiste and her colleagues founded a network which soon became an environmental group and ended up touring the country campaigning against dam construction, agrochemicals and gold mining. More recently, she has championed ‘Queer Ecology’ – an approach to the diversity of life forms in nature that takes both a humanist and linguistic viewpoint.
“The queer view of biodiversity helps us assign new words to the transformations instead of reducing ourselves to canonical parameters or stereotyped descriptions,” she explains. “There is multiplicity in species and ecosystems. Queer Ecology is a different way of looking at nature - it insists on the fact that we can enjoy, without prejudice, the diversity of life forms and sexualities being expressed.”
Baptiste’s Queer Ecology Commission – a shared collective experience created with Institute of Digital Fashion, which reflects on Baptiste’s assertion “there is nothing more queer than nature” – is part of Our Time On Earth, a major exhibition celebrating the power of global creativity to transform the conversation around the climate emergency which opened at the Barbican, London, in May 2022.
Through art, design, science, music and philosophy, the exhibition presents a range of radical visions for the future of all species. Queer Ecology looks at what humans can learn from nature’s own gender fluidity – as visitors watch, their singular identities dissolve into matter beyond the physical body, leaving society’s binary labels.
Recently appointed chancellor of Ean University in Bogotá, Baptise is also the director of the Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute – a world-renowned research centre on biological resources – and an active newspaper columnist.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is a Pakistani Lebanese visual artist, performer and curator. His work explores complex histories of colonialism that are exacerbated by contemporary international politics and, in the process, unpacks the intersections of queerness and Islam through a multi-media practice.
Now based in San Francisco, Bhutto’s artwork centres around queer male experience, celebrating that there is no one way to be queer, Pakistani, immigrant, and/or Muslim. In recent work, he has used South Asian aesthetics to imagine a Third World war of liberation in the near future, led not by patriarchs but queer revolutionaries.
“My work is really about a movement projected into the future,” Bhutto has said. In one work, Bhutto writes ‘Guerrilla Jung’ (‘guerrilla war’) in curling black Nastaliq Urdu over textile portrayals of queer Muslim revolutionaries.
“What does it look like when queer and trans people in Pakistan, or in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen or Iran — these places which have been so heavily under Western and American imperialism — what happens when the queers rise up?”
Jezz Chung is an artist from the LGBTQ+ community who speaks their truth and encourages others to live out loud too.
A multimedia storyteller and public speaker based in New York City, their mission is to build an equitable future through the power of connection and self-expression. Drawing from their experiences as a neurodivergent, queer, Korean American, they believe that personal transformation is a practice of collective change.
After studying communication theory and behavioural psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, they quickly built a reputation as a thought leader and change-maker while working at advertising agencies. After writing creative campaigns for Apple and YouTube, they made headlines for designing a role as the first Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Lead in Anomaly’s history.
Their intersectional approach to equality, creativity, and well-being has been widely lauded. In May 2020, Jezz Chung was featured on the cover of Adweek as a champion for diversity and inclusion.
Aries Moross is a non-binary English graphic designer, artist, illustrator and art director based in London. Committed to elevating the voices of non-binary and LGBTQ+ people within the creative realm, they have publicly shared their transition journey - and by doing so built a large online following.
Having started out as a designer on the London music scene, Moross, now Studio Moross, works with global names including Disney, Uniqlo and Kiehl’s.
Unafraid to do things differently, Moross has maintained a bold aesthetic and attitude throughout the journey from solo-designer to studio-boss, during which time they have won international acclaim for their bold, colourful and energetic typographically-led branding and design work.
Porto Rocha is a New York-based design studio that as well as developing creative and strategic work that engages deeply with the world we live in is on a mission to prove that gay immigrants from Latin America can run a global design agency.
It works closely with people and companies to craft branding systems, products and experiences that provoke meaningful change through its work, ranging from large-scale projects that reach significant audiences to socially and culturally motivated initiatives.
Among its recent projects is Nike Be True — a new platform to spotlight and celebrate LGBTQ+ athletes and creators powered by the idea that sport can be the setting for radical inclusivity.
These are just some of our favourite LGBTQ+ artists, designers, creatives and thinkers. All are making major inroads, paving the way for greater equity, diversity, and inclusivity. And as Wolff Olins continues its own efforts to make itself and the broader industry a home for all, each is a powerful inspiration.