Cully Wright captures queer love and joy in Converse’s Pride campaign

For a young Cully Wright, being in high school meant feeling invisible. It wasn’t until the he started doing photography that people started to notice him through them wanting to be captured by his lens. Now, as a professional photographer and director, the California-born, Oregon-raised creative uses his camera to highlight queer narratives and experiences, focusing on joy, freedom, authenticity, and (as a self-proclaimed romantic) love.

So as the visionary behind Converse’s 10th annual “Proud to Be” Pride campaign, Wright is capturing authentic love, and the tenderness and peace that comes with it, to show the power of standing in one’s own truth. In addition to all the love, Wright’s vision features Converse’s 2024 “Proud to Be” collection, consisting of a curated capsule of footwear, including the new Run Star Utility Sandal CX and Chuck 70. To top it off, the collection comes with vibrant apparel in a spectrum of colors and designs.

INTO chatted with Wright about his vision for the “Proud to Be” campaign, why Call Me By Your Name is his favorite queer love story, and how The Real World: New Orleans helped him understand his sexuality.

Congrats on being a part of Converse’s 10th annual “Proud to Be” campaign. How did the collaboration come to be?

They had seen my “Love Story” project in Vogue Hong Kong, and connected with it. It’s a project where my main goal was to document authentic expressions of love and connection between people. 

When we were fleshing out the concept and all the details, that was our North Star. On one of the creative calls, we mused that sometimes when you’re queer, one of the more simple forms of protest is feeling comfortable holding your partner’s hand in a public space. 

Armed with those two concepts, we brought them together and created a campaign we felt proud of. 

With the campaign celebrating those who are pushing boundaries for the LGBTQ+ community, who are queer and trans changemakers that inspire you?

Really, anybody living into their true authentic self. I think it takes a lot of guts to cut out all the noise that you hear in life – especially in the queer community – and choose to live your life fully present and self-expressed. 

Speaking of celebration, how do you like to celebrate Pride month?

I’m actually rather new to celebrating Pride month. Last year was my first time experiencing a full pride weekend. I was surprised at how joyful it was! I was there with a lot of my friends, queer and straight, all there to celebrate and feel a sense of freedom. And it did feel like that – inspiring and comfortable! I felt an amazing sense of community and oneness, being able to share that with people who accept me exactly as I am. 

As a self-described romantic, I imagine that you’re all about queer love. Do you have a favorite queer love story from a TV show, film, play, book, or music video? 

I gravitate towards stories of sexual fluidity, specifically when they are told alongside “coming of age” stories. I think that for so many people in the queer community, there weren’t many depictions of healthy, fun, sexy, explorative, connections during the formative years of someone’s life. We had all of the traditional coming of age stories, you know, John Hughes movies – young adults connecting and making mistakes and yearning – and all of those movies and stories that straight kids get to experience and relate to! 

I think if I had to pick an absolute favorite it would be Call Me By Your Name. I read it once a year. It’s such a beautiful story of love above everything else, and I think that there’s something about the simplicity of that. It’s so universal and relatable –  all the excitement and anxiety of falling for your first, life altering love. That book depicts it perfectly. 

On the topic of media, is there a queer pop culture moment that defined your childhood?

I grew up without cable TV, so I didn’t have a lot of references of a gay man that I felt was similar to me. I spent my days riding horses and shoveling shit, literally. It was a long time before Brokeback Mountain. It wasn’t until I moved out that I saw The Real World for the first time (the New Orleans season), and Danny Roberts. He was just a guy! A person! And for the first time, I realized my own sexuality didn’t have to look any certain way. I don’t know if Danny Roberts grew up riding horses or shoveling sh*t, but regardless I did relate to him.

What makes you “proud to be” a part of the LGBTQ+ community?

If it’s okay, I want to rephrase this question simply as “what makes me proud to be.” I feel like the older I get, my sexuality is simply a part of me.  It’s really about me feeling like I belong in my own skin. When a person can embrace their own belonging and have a clear idea of what they uniquely offer, then we can belong to AND make a positive impact in a larger community.

Lastly, what do you hope Converse fans and LGBTQ+ folks take away from this year’s “Proud to Be” campaign?

I want anyone who sees this year’s Converse Pride campaign, to feel represented, and like they can exist in this world – differentness, sameness, and all.  

I want everyone who’s ever felt like an outcast to know that the day will come when they truly feel like they belong. ♦

The 2024 “Proud to Be” collection is available globally at Converse.

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