This can feel like a difficult time to celebrate. It's difficult to celebrate progress because there is so much more that needs to be done. It's impossible to act or speak without criticism (both constructive and destructive) because tension is high and polarized opinions are everywhere. Fortunately, constructive criticism builds growth and helps foster learning.
We've always been excited to celebrate Pride month, but looking back, it's easy to see how we've messed up. Knowing what we know now, some of our past Pride collections were prime examples of what not to do for Pride. Some years queer employees led the charge with designs and marketing, and other years allies needed to consult with colleagues and friends in the community in an effort to represent our Pride in the best way possible.
This year we consulted with prominent voices in multiple ultimate communities in order to better understand how we as a business can best celebrate a cause we love and feel close to. We heard that we need to include more than the six colors of a traditional pride flag. We heard that black, brown, and trans people in the ultimate community need their voices to be raised by organizations like ours, and putting their colors in our Pride collection is a start (but to be clear, just a start). We learned to avoid rainbow washing by making it abundantly clear that we are not just putting rainbows on shirts, but we are using a specific selection of Pride colors and designs that represent groups of marginalized individuals to lift up their cause.
We've included the Bisexual and Pansexual Pride flags in some of our designs this year, but if there's another flag you'd like to see, just reach out — we're happy to create more designs based on what you'd like to wear.
Next year, we'll look back on this year's collection with a whole new set of eyes after a year's journey of learning and growing. We may see some flaws, and we'll have internalized every piece of constructive criticism that our community and communities beyond give to us. But for now, we'll do the best we can do to support the causes and people that we, the people of Five Ultimate, love.
A portion of proceeds from Five Ultimate's 2020 Pride collection will be donated to the Center for Black Equity, a global leader of the Black LGBTQ+ Pride movement, and the Lambert House, a Seattle-based safe space for LGBTQ youth.