On June 1st LEGO® announced the launch of their A to Z of Awesome campaign to celebrate Pride Month! The campaign has two facets. First, LEGO® invites 2SLGBTQIA+ families to embrace self-expression and bring their identity to life through LEGO® bricks. Second, LEGO® is using their platform to raise awareness of the varying identities and lived experiences of those within the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. The idea of the campaign is to have different LEGO® builds for each letter of the alphabet that represent some aspect of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. According to the LEGO® website, “the alphabet aims to build understanding and acceptance of the [2S]LGBTQIA+ community and the different abbreviations used”. The A to Z of Awesome campaign will run well past Pride Month into 2023.
Involving 2SLGBTQIA+ AFOLs
I love the idea of the A to Z of Awesome campaign because it connects with 2SLGBTQIA+ AFOLs and families. As part of the campaign, a few members of the community have already provided builds to represent the letters L-G-B-T-Q-I-A and +. These examples are meant to inspire 2SLGBTQIA+ LEGO® fans worldwide. In addition, they have also provided their personal stories. These stories are featured in some awesome short video clips on various LEGO® platforms. You should check them out! For a nice overview, have a look at the campaign summary video below.
The next phase of the campaign invites members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community to build a letter of the alphabet in a way that is meaningful to them and their identity. Builders are encouraged to submit their creation and story to The LEGO® Group. Your model might even get chosen for the final alphabet that will be revealed at the end of 2022!
Is the campaign performative?
Some might argue that the A to Z of Awesome campaign is performative. However, the campaign also involves donating $1 million USD to various organizations in support of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. According to the LEGO® newsroom, the list of supported communities is apparently growing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any list. Admittedly, I didn’t look very hard. I am mostly curious if any Canadian organizations are part of the supported communities. If you know then tell us below or reach out on social media!
Regardless, I do think that this campaign is genuine rather than performative. There is no one way to show support for a group of people and this year’s campaign is certainly more dynamic than prior campaigns. If you are unsure, I suggest watching the video clips of the AFOLs involved so far. They are fantastic (the videos and the people!).
Reading through the LEGO® brief on their newsroom page, I was really pleased to see that, “The LEGO® Group’s global goal is to increase representation across its portfolio.” This includes products as well as programs and marketing. This is something many AFOLs and groups like GayFOLs, Women’s Brick Initiative, and Brick Alliance have been calling for. We have started to see change in recent years.
Representation in products is so important to create inclusion for both kids and adults who enjoy LEGO® sets. First, LEGO® released the Everyone is Awesome set in June 2021 to celebrate the diversity of fans and the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Second, LEGO® released Queer Eye – The Fab 5 Loft a few months later. This set is the first to depict real 2SLGBTQIA+ people as minifigures. Interestingly, the designer of both sets is the fabulous Matthew Ashton, VP of Design at The LEGO® Group. Since then, there haven’t been any other sets specific to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. However, there have been nods to the community in other sets. For example, the Friends Main Street set from 2022 includes a rainbow wall in the apartment shared by a male couple and their little girl.
The LEGO® Group has been increasing their participation in 2SLGBTQIA+ related programming. This includes donating to organizations in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, and supporting various activities held by their LGBTQIA+ Employee Advocacy Groups. They have also participated in various Pride events including building a miniature pride parade in the family zone at London Pride, and sponsoring World Pride in Copenhagen.
They also partner with the charity Diversity Role Model (UK) and GLSEN (USA) to improve the school environment for 2SLGBTQIA+ students and youth. Internally, they partner with Workplace Pride, Stonewall, and Open for Business to inform workplace processes and programs. An example of this is the introduction of Conscious Inclusion training.
We have also seen a shift in LEGO® marketing. However, the emphasis appears to be on gender, ethnicity, colour, and age. I had a quick look at the “lifestyle” photos for a number of exclusive sets marketed towards adults. In almost every set, the photos include a single model. Thus, it is fairly difficult to ascertain if a particular model represents the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, unless you rely on stereotypes. And I am definitely not in favour of using stereotypes to represent diverse groups. However, I think it would be a great move to include subtle nods to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. These could include a model wearing a shirt or hat with rainbow colours, or photos of the set next to an everyday object like a mug with the intersex symbol, or artwork in the background that includes light blue, white and pink to represent the trans community.
Why it is important
During Pride Month I often hear people asking why pride needs to be celebrated. Honestly, there are very few spaces where homophobia and transphobia do not make an appearance. For example, this happened in the comments on an Instagram post made by my LEGO® User Group (MILUG) last year when we shared photos of our Pride Parade minifigure display. You can also see it in the comments of any Pride related social media post made by The LEGO® Group or other Recognized communities. Just scroll through the thread and it won’t take long before you see a barrage of harmful comments. Until everyone is free to express their true identity without fear of hateful comments or violence, then pride needs to be celebrated.
Kudos to The LEGO® Group for their unique initiative that highlights members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. I also love that this campaign continues beyond Pride month. Will you be participating in the A-Z of Awesome campaign? What letter will you choose? Share your thoughts below or reach out on social media!
Play well folks,
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