The Stonewall Inn uprising in 1969 is what many consider the catalyst for contemporary LGBTQ+ liberation. Just one year later, NYC’s first Pride parade took place with thousands of activists marching through the streets carrying banners and signs; brave handwritten messages of resistance.
Banners, signs, posters and other physical proclamations of pride have been a constant throughout the over fifty-year movement. These handwritten signs were the inspiration and drumbeat for the 2021 Under Armour Pride collection, led by LGBTQ+ Teammate Resource Group (TRG), UNIFIED. LGBTQ+ voices and experiences were at the center of planning, message development and throughout the creation of the final product. UNIFIED leadership asked its fellow teammates, “If you were making a Pride sign, what would you put on it?” which led to an array of positive, inspiring messaging – with teammates’ words and work directly in the collection.
“We used everyone's signs to inspire the print, which is essentially a photo collage of handwritten messages of Pride,” says RJ Mansfield, UNIFIED Commerce Lead. Whereas previous collections used colors that were slightly muted, this year’s upped the saturation; sending the message that the LGBTQ+ must live even louder in support of each other."
Actionable, accountable support for marginalized local communities has always been a priority at Under Armour; ensuring that crucial funds make it to the people that need it most. Alongside the launch of the Pride collection, UNIFIED selected The Pride Center of Maryland, in Under Armour's hometown of Baltimore, as the recipient of a donation that will fund the creation of the Center’s new wellness studio and digital lounge.
The Pride Center of Maryland advocates for a better quality of life for the entire LGBTQ+ community, and its long-term vision is that Maryland will become the best place for sexual and gender minorities to live, work and play. To belong. The new studio provides a gym and safe space for LGBTQ+ Baltimore residents.
“A lot of people in our community don't feel comfortable going into a gym," says UNIFIED Co-Chair Regan Foy. "This new studio could provide a safe space for people to go work out, receive fitness training and fill a need that exists in the community.”
Under Armour’s investment in the Pride Center of Maryland comes at a critical time when many local organizations are struggling to keep doors open amidst the devastating effects of the pandemic.
"In these times of heightened regard for cultural inclusion and affirmation, at the Pride Center of Maryland (PCOM), we pride ourselves on being ahead of that curve. A significant number of PCOM’s clients are Black and Latino, some without reliable access to the internet or social media,” says Dr. Cleo Manago, Interim Executive Director at the Pride Center of Maryland. “With the onset of COVID-19 and more reliance on virtual interaction, the digital lounge and wellness studio will be an essential tool for many who utilize the Center."
Pride has seen a lot of change from 1969 to 2021; moving further away from its protest roots to more of a celebration. While there’s plenty to celebrate, including surviving a global pandemic, Under Armour recognizes that there’s still so much work to be done.
“Representation is just the beginning,” says Lisa Collier, Chief Product Officer & UNIFIED Executive Sponsor. “Pride is so much more than that. The 2021 UA Pride collection is about inclusivity. It’s about belonging. This year has been incredibly challenging; especially for under-represented populations. Coming out of this pandemic, we’re fostering Pride from within our community of Under Armour teammates and throughout our local community, to fully make an impact.”
The full 2021 UA Pride Collection will be available for purchase on UA.com and in Under Armour Brand House stores starting June 2.