Pride

Love Pride merch but hate rainbows? This creator’s got you covered

Pride season is nearly upon us, and you know what that means. Rainbows! Lots and lots of rainbows. Rainbow shirts, crosswalks, stickers and hats! Rainbow logos for corporations that will revert back to their usual colors on July 1 at the stroke of midnight!

But what if you’re the rare gay who doesn’t want to taste the rainbow, or in the case of Pride month, be completely suffocated by it? Well, you’re in luck. At least one creator—East Coast Tags—has you covered.

@eastcoasttags

Each one of these has a story and meaning thats different for each person and I think thats my favorite part of this collection #pridecollection #pridemonth #pridetshirt #lgbtqia #heatpressbusiness

♬ original sound – eastcoasttags

In response to a TikTok telling creators to boost their own projects, business owner Michelle Frost took the opportunity to point out that not all queers want to walk around with rainbow merch all of June.

“We make colorless Pride apparel,” Frost explains. “Why do we do this? Because we found there was a whole market for people in the LGBTQIA+ community that does not always want to wear an associated flag on their garments.”

For many, this desire goes beyond a mere dislike of loud colors or rainbows. Wearing colorless Pride apparel can help some people express their pride without feeling unsafe in places that are perhaps less welcoming or gay-friendly. As Frost explains, color-free Pride merch can also help queer people engage with deeper conversations with allies and avoid a one-size-fits-all type of queer flagging in favor of more niche appreciation.

So what are some examples? Through Frost’s tattoo-style designs, queer people can gently signal pride through slogans like “be who you needed back then,” referring to the representation we all craved as kids and now perhaps have become for younger generations. What Frost needed as a sapphic teen was “an adult lesbian just living their life that wasn’t completely consumed by their identity because they were growing up in a religious household.” Frost found that representation in an English teacher. It made them realize that being queer didn’t have to be her whole identity. “I can just be who I am,” Frost explained, “and just live, and just be, and it does actually get better, as clichéd as that sounds.”

For trans folks who might not want to wear the trans flag on their chests, the “going through changes” design signals the excitement and transformative quality of second puberty, and a slogan like “progress isn’t always pretty” helps remind others that queer people aren’t here to perform radiant joy all the time.

“When it came to my family,” Frost says, “I went in the closet, I came out of the closet, I went back in the closet, for many different reasons. That was not pretty, but it was still progress.”

Sometimes being gay and proud means just showing up and doing your best, and these designs show that. We’re all imperfect, and we’re all in a process of becoming. And perhaps most importantly, we’re more than just our flags.

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