BEHIND THE DESIGN: ALLAN SHAW OF GAY’S OKAY
We're excited to announce the launch of our new cap in collaboration with Gay’s Okay, an independent cycling brand whose mission is to celebrate LGBTIQ positivity and inclusion within the cycling community through design, donations and events. Designed by Gay's Okay founder, Allan Shaw, the Ride with Pride cap is part of our Citizen Chrome line meaning it is 100% not-for-profit. We're proud to be donating all profits to the ACLU of Arkansas and ILGA World. Check out our interview with Allan below for some BTS and more info on our chosen organizations.
5 QUESTIONS WITH GAY’S OKAY FOUNDER + DESIGNER, ALLAN SHAW
First, tell us a little about yourself and what the people should know.
Originally from Scotland, for the last ten years I’ve probably spent more of my waking life on the bike than off of it. I’ve worked as a bicycle messenger full-time across three different continents, and bike-toured around six. For me, my bike is my instrument of freedom, my way of forever altering my perspective and my way of connecting with my body and the world around me.
What inspired the creation of Gay’s Okay?
I started Gay’s Okay to improve visibility, plant seeds of positivity and take up more space for LGBTIQ+ people in cycling. To celebrate us.
In the popular image of cycling, bike messengers are the true misfits. We are a diverse group of rag-tag types you’d rarely see represented at your average cycling club, but we also experience the same barriers of access and representation as the rest of cycling (and sport in general).
In 2015 I flew from Vancouver, Canada, to Australia for the Cycle Messenger World championships. Over the weekend I heard some inspiring calls to create better networks and groups to help our community break down it’s barriers.
Inspired by those people, for the following year’s Messenger championships I decided to make a Rainbow themed cycling cap to bring along and spread around. I printed 100, and was really struck by how many people fell in love with it. The Messenger community was ready to share the message, ready to start having the conversation, the space was already there to take up. It created a really positive ripple effect and I came to realize that if I kept working at it, kept pushing out this message, then I could keep that positive ripple effect going and going.
What does your process look like when it comes to creating and executing your designs?
The first few cycling caps I owned always had something funny written on the front of the cap. I had the “Look Mum No Hands!” cap from a bike cafe in London, and a “Try not to Suck” cap from a bike shop in Chicago. I loved wearing a fun statement displayed so prominently across my head. Catching people's eyes as they glance up and read it.
This is something I think everyone with a Gay’s Okay cap has experienced. It’s a bold and simple statement, it’s friendly while being uncompromising. It’s mere unapologetic existence is a celebratory nod to all the LGBTIQ+ bad-asses out there also just unapologetically existing and thriving.
I always want designs and ideas to evolve and change, I don’t believe in uniformity, I want designs to be as diverse and bold as us, and to keep innovating to reflect where we are.
As well as making many of the designs myself, I’ve also worked with many talented designer friends and allies. People like Colin Waddell, Jody Barton, Pedro Toda, Fabrice Fuego and others. Together we’ve kept things vibrant, sharp, fun and at times just a little tongue-in-cheek!
100% of the proceeds from the Chrome x Gay’s Okay Cycling Caps will go directly to ACLU AR and ILGA World. How is it important to support these organizations?
With this project we really wanted to donate funds working on a global level, as well as to highlight and focus attention on the increasingly hostile legislation being proposed against trans rights across the US. Gay rights would not be where they are today without trans people, and they need all of us to stand up for them too, right now and every day, in the face of intolerance, ignorance and bigotry.
There are many worthy groups working hard to push back and raise the flag.
ILGA World is one of the world’s largest networks of LGBTIQ+ advocacy and activist groups. There is real weight to having strength in numbers. This is queer democracy in action! It is an organization led by the global movement, connecting groups and working together to make more powerful impacts around the world. ILGA World is able to consult with various fora at the United Nations to advocate and protect the human rights of LGBTIQ+ people everywhere, they provide input and guidance to take international rights treaties and help apply them on a national level. They have strong representation from the global south and train activists in dialogue and engagement. Not to mention they have done excellent research, reporting and produce great infographics to inform people of the global realities of being LGBTIQ+. I could literally go on and on, ILGA World is truly a global leader in the fight.
The ACLU in Arkansas are at the forefront of today’s fight against the attack on the rights of trans people in the US. The proposed laws in this state are some of the most extreme anti-trans laws in the country, and as leaders in Civil Liberties the ACLU can clearly see this attack for what it is, and are pushing back hard through legal challenges, petitions, speaking directly to legislators and through public education campaigns. As these proposed discriminatory laws move through state legislators, the ACLU in Arkansas will be the leading organization challenging the legitimacy of these policies in the courts. We believe that it’s really important to highlight this campaign, to work together to raise awareness of the extremity of these proposed laws, and direct our donations as effectively as possible for this fight back.
If there was one thing you could change in the cycling industry, what would it be?
Getting rid of all forms of elitism and exclusivity. So much of the world of cycling is selling people this idea that you need expensive bikes and the top of the line gear to be in the club. You need to look and be a certain way. The messengers I’ve met over the years have ridden all types of rad and trash bikes, have come in all shapes, sizes and descriptions, and have put in the miles day after day, motivated by their passion for the ride and the deep sense of freedom they get doing it. That passion and sense of freedom should be available and accessible to everyone, and that’s what the cycling industry should be focused on.
Check out the Chrome x Gay's Okay cycling cap here.
All net proceeds from the sale of every Citizen Chrome x Gay's Okay Cycling Cap purchased on chromeindustries.com between 6/1/21 and 8/31/21 (US sales only) will be split evenly and donated to ACLU Arkansas and ILGA World.