Happy Pride! Pride Season is about celebrating. It’s about dancing and marching and singing as much Cher as your vocal cords can allow. But more than that, Pride is about paying homage to all the world-changing LGBTQ+ folks that came and fought before us. One of these people is activist Gilbert Baker, who created the iconic rainbow pride flag in 1979. Symbolic of solidarity, power, community and queer culture, Gilbert assigned each stripe a meaning.
Kicking off our Knix Pride celebration is the color Red. Red symbolizes life, and what better person to sit down with than Sydney Sarayeva (@sydneysarayeva). Model, actress and writer, Sydney is continually outspoken about trans visibility in media. She’s given life to every project she’s been apart of, and we’re so thrilled to chat with her.
How are you celebrating Pride this month?
This year I plan on celebrating Pride with my partner! As a trans woman in media, it has been truly a blessing to be able to share my life with someone as amazing as my partner. I definitely plan on joining in on all the live music events and looking forward to see all of the parade marches. However, I most look forward to the Trans March - one of my favourite events of the whole Pride season.
How do you celebrate all year round?
I celebrate Pride all year round by being visible. I think being visible and honest helps inspire others to live a more authentic life themselves. I try to love myself every day and hopefully help people achieve self-love and acceptance. Similarly, being visible and honest [through social media] about current issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community. Something as simple as sharing news articles about issues affecting LGBTQ+ people on your Instagram feed, is an example of a simple way we can all make a difference.
What gives you life?
Overcoming obstacles. There is nothing more reassuring and beautiful in life than surprising yourself in your own resiliency, strength, passion, while creating your own new beginnings. Receiving messages of support and encouragement go a long way in those moments. I’m so blessed to have a tight knit community online and in the outside world that always push me in the right direction, and make me want to be a more well rounded person. Seeing my own change, progression, and strength increase, for someone who felt like they were never going to be heard or seen, truly gives me life.
You’ve modelled in some Knix before, how was that experience?
Modelling for Knix was such an incredible experience and really made me believe that pursuing a modelling career could actually bring me a lot of confidence and joy. I distinctly remember putting on clothes at the pop up shop last year and being told to “not come out of the fitting room unless you are comfortable”. This was repeated to not only myself, but every single female identifying model there. This was a huge push for me to really stand behind Knix, because while I was falling in love with the products in the fitting room, I was falling in love with the people and mindset behind it. It’s been a long time since that campaign and I still push to represent Knix any opportunity I get.
What are your hopes for the fashion industry in terms of trans representation?
I really hope to see more open trans women on runways for the right reasons. From personal experience, I have specifically been asked to alter or crop images to highlight parts of my body that I’m not comfortable with. There’s quite a challenge when casting trans people. Tokenization is when a production or publication casts marginalized groups or minorities to appear diverse when they are not. Passable is a term often used by the trans community to describe someone who passes as the gender they transitioned to without raising suspicion. A passable person generally has it much easier in society than someone who is not, because of the stigma around trans people.
I hope to see more casting calls that highly encourage trans people to apply, as opposed to casting calls seeking only trans people or not mentioning them at all. While transness should be celebrated and acknowledged—casting us in parts that focus on our skill and talent is what true inclusivity looks like in the industry.
What can Knix do to become better allies?
Honestly, it’s hard to say! I think highlighting and acknowledging that even sometimes the people who wear Knix products identify as non-binary, lesbian, or bisexual, for example. Putting out casting calls where LGBTQ+ people are encouraged to apply, for photo shoots featuring all shapes and colours of the LGBTQ+ community, more interviews like this. Supporting a community that supports you only leads to a better relationship.
Acknowledging and being inclusive especially to the LGBTQ+ clientele and being openly supportive during not only just Pride, but all year round goes a long way, and both ways. Feeling seen and heard when you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ is so important.
Thanks Sydney! Check back throughout June to meet other Proud members of the Knix community.