With Pride month well and truly underway, it’s time to focus on the great work happening out there that supports our flourishing and vibrant LGBTQIA+ community — this being said, all year round should be a celebration of queer love and the organizations that support it.
Since 1962, Havaianas has been a shining emblem of Brazilian culture and heritage. Consistent in its message on being as egalitarian and 'for the people' as possible, the brand ensures that its globally renowned flip-flops are accessible to everyone. Regardless of social position or status, Havaianas products were created to be at the feet of every Brazilian, and now everyone around the world.
Known for adding more color to the world one pair of flip-flops at a time, it only made sense for Havaianas to celebrate not only everything it stands for but also the colors of all kinds of love. In June 2020, Havaianas launched its Pride line. A symbol of equality and optimism, the collection showcased the brand's first range of rainbow flip-flops that encouraged conversation, social inclusion, and empowerment for the LGBTQIA+ youth through a charity initiative.
The collection is sold all year round and seven percent of the proceeds are donated to All Out, an NGO and global movement that fights for LGBTQIA+ rights. All Out mobilizes thousands of people to come together to build a world where people don’t have to sacrifice their family, freedom, safety, or dignity because of their gender or sexual orientation. From petitions, press, and social media actions to street protests and huge crowdfunding campaigns around the world, All Out is on a worldwide, inclusive mission. Thanks to the proceeds from last years’ sales, All Out was able to carry out actions to support the queer community in countries like Brazil, Poland, Venezuela, Mexico, Lebanon, Germany, and more.
Emphasizing how its collection isn't a one-off marketing tactic but more of a real hard commitment, Havaianas will again this year donate the same amount of proceeds to All Out in an effort to continue supporting and raising awareness for the LGBTQIA+ community. This year the collection has expanded, featuring five flip-flop models in different colorways, a sparkly mini bag, key rings, and socks. "We are a democratic brand and implementing a project like this reaffirms our proposal and ethos. Even though we know it’s a small step, we are happy to be doing our part for society," says Fernanda Romano, CMO at Alpargatas, the parent company of Havaianas.
Founded in 2010, All Out has been relentless in its fight to support the queer community, and it shows no signs of slowing down. We caught up with Matt Beard, who has been Executive Director there for the past five years, to find out more about the initiative's plan of action and goals for the future.
"A while ago, in queer spaces and in our community, there wasn't anywhere people could go if they wanted to stand in international solidarity, and turn that into real action — but not necessarily do so in a way in which they had to become a full-time activist. So a space for relatively low threshold participation and where people power could really matter was the idea with All Out, and that was very much the founding principle," explains Beard.
All Out combat the issues facing the LGBTQIA+ community in three key ways: Pressure Campaigns, Crowdfunding Campaigns, and Member Campaigns. Beard broke down these three approaches: "Firstly, we campaign on an opportunity model, but also a crisis model. So when members of our community are in any way being hurt or threatened or their rights are denied, we work with our frontline partners to shine a light on that abuse to pressure decision-makers. The second thing is a crowdfunding model. We work on a program called Grassroots Giving, which enables us to raise funds from our global support base around the world — which is about a million people. These programs raise money directly for our frontline partners, paying for things like evacuation out of hostile environments, shelters for LGBT+ kids, legal helplines etc. Then, of course, last year, and still now, we pivoted quite heavily to provide emergency relief for COVID-affected communities. The third thing we do is train young LGBT+ activists, specifically in digital skills, so that they can claim their rights online too."
People are often risking everything, sometimes even their lives, so we want to give them the agency that they need and deserve within the work that we do.
As with any NGO, there are a few hurdles to overcome, the key one being related to financials. "Sustainability-wise, if you speak to the executive director of any small organization, I'm sure they’ll say that financial support is at the top of the list — it feels like an ongoing hamster wheel. Another challenge is that there are 17 of us but we are spread around the planet so all our organizing and strategizing is done online. Finally — and I think we do this well, but it’s definitely something we need to focus on — making sure that the people we work with sit at the very center of what we do. People are often risking everything, sometimes even their lives, so we want to give them the agency that they need and deserve within the work that we do," says Beard.
When it comes to All Out’s partnership with Havaianas, there was an instant crossover and synergy as highlighting and supporting the queer community in Brazil is paramount to both parties. As many of us know, the LGBTQIA+ community in Brazil is burgeoning, but receives little to no support, with the President, Jair Bolsonaro, attacking the Supreme Court and putting gay rights at risk. Beard comments on how a majority of All Out’s team are Brazilian and many of their successful campaigns have taken place in Brazil with the most recent being 'Brazil: LGBTphobia is a crime, now what?' last year.
If we think specifically about the Brazilian context, the ramp from homophobia and transphobia that exists in this country, and the endemic levels of violence and hate crimes that are still faced by the community need to be addressed. So, if we think about this quintessentially resilient, Brazilian brand like Havaianas, it makes complete sense that they are getting involved.
"Internally we call it localization. It feels good to get a bit closer to the ground and more organic. It felt like a match made in heaven when Havaianas told us they wanted to work with us. They wanted an organization that had Brazilian staff members experienced with Portuguese and an understanding of the local movement in Brazil, but that also had a global perspective. It benefits us too as we have a need to continue to engage with the corporate sector. This notion of corporate social responsibility is also important. If we think specifically about the Brazilian context, the ramp from homophobia and transphobia that exists in this country, and the endemic levels of violence and hate crimes that are still faced by the community need to be addressed. So, if we think about this quintessentially resilient, Brazilian brand like Havaianas, it makes complete sense that they are getting involved."
All Out recently set up a project in which trained and certified psychologists in Brazil offer and volunteer their time to run a series of one-to-one therapy sessions for individuals from the queer community who really need it. Beard explains: "We've been able to link well over a thousand individuals now with trained psychologists across the country and the testimonies we've received from those benefiting has been truly humbling. It really has had a massive impact on people's lives — some even say that it’s saved their lives." Beard tells us how on the very first day of the Bolsonaro administration he was in the capital. "We went up to Brasilia and blasted huge projections on the Brazilian Congress and other government buildings to say, "We are LGBT+ and we will resist." We wanted to give people the sense that "yes, it's terrifying, that this self-professed homophobe has become president of this country, but there is resistance, there is community, there are others around you that can stand in defiance of those policies with you."
The metaphor I always use is that we're one ingredient that goes into baking the perfect cake of human rights change for LGBT+ people. We throw in this people power to change through storytelling.
Outside of Brazil, All Out is running a multitude of other campaigns. For International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, they came up with the theme of 'resisting, supporting, healing', and have launched a global photography competition in collaboration with MTV, that asks both amateur and professional photographers to submit photographs in one of these three categories. "We’ve been hugely moved by what's come in so far. Of course, there are a lot of images of pain and loss, but also images of hope and solidarity." The winning entries will be displayed on the huge screen at Times Square in New York and also at Pride in Copenhagen this year. Beard puts it succinctly saying, "the metaphor I always use is that we're one ingredient that goes into baking the perfect cake of human rights change for LGBT+ people. We throw in this people power to change through storytelling. Breaking down some of the less accessible activist jargon of our movement is important. Telling the stories of individual human beings, the pain, the joy, the love that they’ve experienced is the goal."
All Out has many exciting plans for the future, including expansion and offering a member-generated petition platform that enables anybody, whether you're an organization or an individual anywhere in the world, a very user-friendly web environment to go online and start your own petition for LGBTQIA+ rights. "We're actively researching and looking for funding for some geographic expansion so that we can do work in Asia, which has always been a little bit of a weaker spot for us. We've been extremely strong in our work with our partners in Africa and Latin America and Eastern Europe and Russia, but there's still so much work to be done across Asia, and we'd love to have a presence there," explains Beard. With more and more organizations like All Out fighting for LGBTQIA+ rights around the world, we need more brands like Havaianas to step up and show their support.
The Pride collection is available at havaianas.com and in Havaianas stores.