Envato

Celebrating Pride Month 2019: Explore the Work of LGBTQI+ Creatives

Celebrate Pride 2019 with a celebration of some wonderful creative people and the content they’ve brought into the world.

Happy Pride Month 2019!

My name is Daisy, and creativity is the cornerstone of my life—I’m also a bisexual woman of color, and it feels great to embrace a sense of pride, self-kindness, and love not only towards my artwork, but also myself and my identity. The two, my creative work and my identity, often cross paths, as artwork can be such an amazing vessel for sharing or nurturing one’s voice.

In celebrating Pride Month, I had the privilege of speaking with a number of talented, inspiring creatives about their work, inspirations, and words of wisdom. I’m so happy to share these amazing creators and their thoughts with you.

So let’s celebrate Pride 2019 with a celebration of some wonderful creative people and the content they’ve brought into the world. I hope you find them and their work as inspiring as I do!

Geneva Heyward

My name’s Geneva and I’m a student at NYU’s Game Center trying to put more inclusive games into the world. I’m currently working on a roller derby rhythm game called Skate & Date, but I’ve made a couple of other games before for game jams, classes, and competitions. I would have to say Skate & Date is my favorite project though because I love rhythm games and I want LGBTQ+ folk to be in them!  I’ve been developing this by myself for almost 2 years and it’s been pretty difficult to balance with everything else, but I think it’s worth it. I’m hoping to finally release the game before Summer starts.

What are your inspirations, motivations, and/or goals, on a personal level and in regards to communicating with your audience?

There are so many people who’ve inspired me to get into game development, but a specific game developer that really inspired me was Nomnomnami. When I finally found out about itch.io in high school, Nami’s games were one of the first lesbian games I got to play and they were all so cute! She also makes games for herself and that really motivated me to do the same. The validation and joy I felt while playing those games I hope other people can feel while playing mine.

What wisdom would you offer other creatives, particularly those who are LGBTQI+? How did you find your creative voice, and what do you wish you’d known, when you got started?

What I wish I knew when getting started is that it’s ok to take the time you need to finish projects and that it’s ok to ask for help. While working on Skate & Date, I didn’t anticipate how much I’d struggle to balance work and school along with this game. I felt really frustrated for not meeting the deadlines I had set for myself, but several other creatives, many of whom I look up to, cheered me on and encouraged me to take breaks. It can be hard to do the work you love if you’re burnt out, so never feel ashamed of taking a self care day!

What message of kindness, encouragement, or empowerment would you like to share with the world?

Don’t be afraid to create art for yourself. While there’s a lot of pressure to create things that will sell, there should be space for yourself just like how there should be space for taking care of yourself. Your story and voice deserves to be heard and you deserve to be seen! So don’t feel bad doing lots of self-promotion. You are valid and loved and deserve to be happy.

Happy Pride Month!

Check out more of Geneva’s work at:

Leanna C.

I’m a queer (asexual and panromantic) illustrator and comic creator, but I also work in marketing and graphic design. I don’t consider myself an expert in any of those fields, but I enjoy learning, especially by doing. When I draw, I like to draw queer people and their relationships – tender gazes, laughs over a group text, romantic gestures, and more.

I really enjoy connecting people to opportunities and resources perfectly suited for them, which is what got me started with Paper Cat Press! I knew a lot of artists who were upset about missing out on neat opportunities, and I knew where a lot of those opportunities could be found. So, I started listing them out. I screen each opportunity, listing associated costs if they exist, and making sure that they are inclusive of people often marginalized in media work and society (such as LGBTQIAP+ people and people of color). Now I list resources, news, and crowdfunding campaigns, too!

What are your inspirations, motivations, and/or goals, on a personal level and in regards to communicating with your audience?

I’m definitely inspired by every person I know who works to demystify publishing, broaden publishing’s borders, pay artists fairly, share resources, and respectfully support their peers. I’m motivated by seeing others continue to do the work, help others, and grow – Beth Phelan, Joamette Gil, and Steven Andrews are just a few of the names that come to mind.

Whenever I’m communicating with someone, I think, “How would I like to be spoken to about these issues?” That helps me craft positive, comprehensive, and informative messages. But I’m always trying to learn how to be kinder and more clear while still respecting my own boundaries.

What wisdom would you offer other creatives, particularly those who are LGBTQI+? How did you find your creative voice, and what do you wish you’d known, when you got started?

Always advocate for yourself. You know who you are and what you need. Pay attention to how you feel in certain situations – notice what makes you feel happy, and what makes you uncomfortable. You will always deserve to be in good, healthy situations and relationships, and deserve to be treated with respect, and can do the same for others, too.

There are some people who will do whatever they can to make you feel small, or who have a habit of avoiding responsibility and shifting blame – but don’t let them gaslight you. Your voice is just as important as anyone else’s. And there are people who need to take in what you have to share.

Also, missing an opportunity isn’t the end of your career – there are opportunities everywhere. Take care of yourself!

What message of kindness, encouragement, or empowerment would you like to share with the world?

It can be a rough world out there. Take care of yourself. Be kind to yourself. Revel in everything you are and everything you want to be. And support your queer family, either with kindness, with financial help, with affirmation, or with affection. We can help each other resist and persist. We can make this world better just by being good to one another. As one of my favorite enamel pins reads: We fight as one!

Check out more of Leanna’s work at:

Ziyed Yusuf AYOUB

My name is Ziyed Yusuf AYOUB, you can call me Ziyed or Yusuf (Yusuf is my middle name).  I’m 26 years old. I was born in Toulouse, France, and spent my childhood and formative years in Tunisia before moving back to France in my teens and adult life. I’m a muslim man of Amazigh (native North African) origin. I’m on the autistic spectrum. I’m transgender and gay. I have a wonderful boyfriend of 3 years whom I’m planning to move in with next year. I currently live in Paris, we may move to Eugene OR.

All those aspects of my identity took a long time to come to terms with and discuss outside of myself. I was never not going to be all of these things. I learned from a very young age from my own family that most aspects of myself were unwanted by society. Thankfully, I had art to express myself through. Since I was young, my transgender identity and my homosexual attraction to men was expressed in my art before I could even fully understand it or word it.

I’m a self taught comic and illustration artist. I decided to leave the financial comfort of my family when I came out as gay and transgender to avoid the emotional abuse my family had already put me through.

In the years following cutting those ties and finding my footing, I have included many personal parts of myself in my work: Being gay while transgender, being autistic while muslim, being all these things while living in France, and so on…

My favorite project I’ve worked on is actually pretty far from the stories I usually write. It’s called You Can’t Make That Shit Up, and is a comic about one of my close friends. They work in theater and hustled for a while between about a billion service jobs. Because of that, they’ve found themselves in some extreme situations which I compiled in that comic. To protect their privacy, I drew them as Keanu Reeves. Because who doesn’t like Keanu Reeves?

It’s my favorite because I think it’s the one I storyboarded best. It was very easy to ink, it came naturally. It was also fun for a while to distance myself from my darker stories for something light.

What are your inspirations, motivations, and/or goals, on a personal level and in regards to communicating with your audience?

I’m usually most inspired by independent comic and illustration artists more than published and universally recognized artists and animators. Lee Lai (author of First Year) My friends Luc (@deluxepeach) Swans (@cortnan) to name a few. I’m also really into movies. I watch a lot more movies than I read comics. Which is probably bad for a comic artist.

What wisdom would you offer other creatives, particularly those who are LGBTQI+? How did you find your creative voice, and what do you wish you’d known, when you got started?

I think it’s very important to know your history, the history of your personal culture, of the country you live in, etc… What gave me strength in my creativity was to really dive deep into my identity. Not every creative explores their identity to create (and I have no opinion on the matter) but it was a turning point for me, personally and creatively.

In the renewed LGBT movement, I notice a lot of people tend to reinvent the wheel. I’m still young, so I don’t know what wisdom I can really provide for LGBT artists as a whole. As for what I know, I’d encourage transgender men (and anyone, really!) to read Becoming A Visible Man, a book on the history of the movement for transgender men in the United States in the 90s. The bibliography of that book is also very resourceful.

I wish I’d known not to feel guilty for my lack of financial resources when self-publishing and try to put myself out there. It only slowed down my creative process. We all produce at our own rhythm and to the extent of our own capabilities. We have time to grow at our own pace, and that pace may very well be slow if you’re poor. It doesn’t define your ability to grow and progress.

What message of kindness, encouragement, or empowerment would you like to share with the world?

It can be a challenge to celebrate your differences. Surround yourself with friends and people who share those differences; let them help you celebrate them together. You don’t have to be alone. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your local LGBT charity, to call a hotline, to join an online community. Sometimes, just researching the history of your identity in the LGBT movement can give you a sense of visibility and pride. When I found what was lacking, I could create it for others in my community who need it. But you can’t let yourself be on your own for too long, accept those limitations, and you’ll only grow stronger.

Check out more of Ziyed’s work at:

Low Kiwi

My name is Jace, though I often go by Kiwi online! I’m a bi artist from Atlantic Canada. I’ve worked in various areas of commercial art (BG painter for animation, freelance concept artist/storyboard artist for advertising/mobile games), but in my own time I focus on illustration and comics. I love having the chance to paint with bright, vibrant colours and I’m drawn to stories that explore love, identity and magic!

My favourite project I’ve done is the webcomic I’m working on right now called Summertime Girlfriends! It’s about a young woman who has to uncover the mysterious and magical past of a faraway island and in the process falls for a mermaid. It’s an absolute joy crafting a story about magic and women falling in love.

What are your inspirations, motivations, and/or goals, on a personal level and in regards to communicating with your audience?

I want to draw the stories that I wanted to read when I was younger. I grew up in a small town with no access to LGBTQ+ content and I spent so much time scouring the internet looking for basically any content where girls were dating. I remember having only one website to go to in the beginning, that was all (at the time) rare anime and manga scans that were all lesbian-focused. It took hours, sometimes days to download anything in the days of dial-up internet but that was the only option! Having access to those stories meant the world to me back then. I want to give my audience stories that make them feel seen and accepted.

What wisdom would you offer other creatives, particularly those who are LGBTQI+? How did you find your creative voice, and what do you wish you’d known, when you got started?

I think that similar to your art style, your creative voice will develop as you make work you enjoy, so don’t stress about figuring it out right away. Don’t worry about what others are doing or what’s “in” at the moment, and just focus on doing the things you love. Figure out what already makes you happy and pursue it. Not only is it way easier to make things that you’re already invested in, but it really shows when someone makes something they have a passion for. Your audience will find you.

Also, remember that there is only one YOU, and you are the only person who can tell your stories. This is especially important when you are a part of the LGBTQ+ community because there is a limited amount of representation that has reached a larger audience and there are SO many stories left to tell (ESPECIALLY stories told by the people who actually have those experiences).

What message of kindness, encouragement, or empowerment would you like to share with the world?

You’ve got this! Dream big and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Reward yourself when you have to do something difficult, and remember to make time to celebrate your victories. Take care of yourself and look out for your peers. Lift others up and support them whenever you can. We’re all in this together!

Check out more of Kiwi’s work at:

D.J. Kirkland

I’m a comic book artist based out of the Bay Area but I’m originally from Charlotte, NC. Growing up as an only child, I had a lot of time to myself so I occupied myself by playing a lot of video games and watching a lot of anime. I feel like my art reflects a mash-up of the expressiveness of both 90’s anime and American cartoons. My favorite project is one I just finished up. It’s my first graphic novel from Oni Press titled ‘The Black Mage’. I drew it and it was written by one of my good friends Daniel Barnes. It combines the love we both have for anime, manga and video games while also centering around our lived experiences as black people which is something we haven’t seen very much of.

What are your inspirations, motivations, and/or goals, on a personal level and in regards to communicating with your audience?

Anime, manga and video games have always appealed to me since I was very young and that still hasn’t changed to this day. Sailor Moon is probably one of my biggest influences. It was the series that made me want to become an artist in the first place. Other than Sailor Moon, Capcom fighting games have also had a huge influence on my work. My goals as a creator are to make things that I wish I had when I was growing up. I think my goals are pretty straight forward. I want to make something that has the same impact that my favorite shows, games, and comics had on me for a new generation.

What wisdom would you offer other creatives, particularly those who are LGBTQI+? How did you find your creative voice, and what do you wish you’d known, when you got started?

To my fellow LGBTQI+ folks out there, share your stories. WE NEED THEM. There aren’t nearly enough stories from our perspective in the world. Get out there and tell the stories you want to tell! Finding your creative voice is an ongoing process. I’m still finding mine! You can get there by experimenting, making mistakes, starting over and trying again. There’s something to learn from everything you make that you can take into the next project. The biggest thing I wish I had learned way earlier on in my career is this: Stop spending so much time trying to make things that are perfect. Having something that’s done will ultimately get you a lot further.

What message of kindness, encouragement, or empowerment would you like to share with the world?

I have a few things!

You’re loved, your experiences are valid and we need you here!

Everyone’s path is different.

Don’t let the perceived success of others define your self-worth while you’re on your journey to get to a similar place!

The only thing you need to be is yourself.

Check out more of D.J.’s work at:

Melissa Capriglione

I’m a comic artist and illustrator residing in Indiana and I have a BFA in Drawing and Illustration from Herron School of Art and Design. I mainly create colorful comics with fantasy and LGBTQI+ elements, including my webcomic, Falconhyrste. It’s certainly my favorite project to work on because it’s very personal! I write it with my co-creator, Clara W., and I feel like we have complete freedom when working on Falconhyrste.

What are your inspirations, motivations, and/or goals, on a personal level and in regards to communicating with your audience?

My inspiration is certainly my need to get my stories out there. I want to communicate that being LGBTQI+ isn’t how it seems in popular media by just having one character for representation. I want to show my audience that having a completely queer cast is achievable.

What wisdom would you offer other creatives, particularly those who are LGBTQI+? How did you find your creative voice, and what do you wish you’d known, when you got started?

When I first started creating stories, I was afraid to have queer characters. I was afraid of the backlash and judgement, but I realized I was way more comfortable writing completely queer casts. My advice would be to think about the kind of stories you wish you had when you were younger, and create those.

What message of kindness, encouragement, or empowerment would you like to share with the world?

Find your people! I wouldn’t be where I am without my friends. We support each other’s projects and give each other encouragement. Surround yourself with LGBTQI+ friends and you’ll be in good company.

Check out more of Melissa’s work at:

Happy Pride Month!

Thank you to the above artists for sharing their work and their voice with the world—I hope you’ve been as inspired by these insights and creative works as I have. There is no better time than the present to appreciate and celebrate your voice, your creativity, and your identity.

Happy Pride Month!


About the Author daisyein

Daisy Ein is an illustrator, musician, and game developer from the United States. She is the Lead Artist at Super Retro Duck, an independent game developer that she co-owns. Their debut title, Tiny Bird Garden, is available on iOS and Android. When Daisy isn't making games, you might catch her jamming on her keytar or fighting virtual monsters.