It had been clear for a while that we would like to bring out a Pride Collection at some point. But we never really dared to tackle the subject. On the one hand, it’s very sensitive, and on the other hand, the media quickly accuses us of rainbow washing. That is the deliberate use of the rainbow flag and Pride as a marketing strategy without having any serious interest in supporting the queer community, e.g. through own campaigns, donations, etc.
When we at matabooks® became more intensively involved with the idea of a Pride Collection, it was clear from the beginning that we wanted to work with people who are part of the community. Through research for suitable artists, we became aware of BeeProud.de and thus of the two founders Jasmin and Steffi. It clicked immediately and at the latest when we saw their motif “Heartbeat”, we knew: This is it!
The two founders not only provided us with their wonderful motif but were also on hand to advise us on numerous questions.
Spoiler: The Matacrew is a big fan of both of them! So be sure to check them out!
How it all began
Jasmin and Steffi met by chance on Rhodes when they were both working as tour guides there. Now they have been a couple for almost 5 years and have even become business partners. Because at the end of 2020, they came up with the idea for BeeProud.de, an online shop for discreet LGBTQIA+ statements.
Why? Because most of the accessories, clothing & co. on offer that express affiliation or support for the queer community are quite colourful, bold or garish. “You can wear them at a CSD, but not in everyday life. At the beginning, this was not so present for us, but when we started to look into it, we noticed that the offer is really very, very thin, although the target group is actually growing. So we looked at what was available on the market and thought there was definitely a need. And that’s how the whole thing came about,” says Steffi.
They have been online with their shop BeeProud.de since July 2021 and have been steadily growing their colourful assortment ever since. “Currently, there are still two of us. We do have an agency to advise us on marketing, but in principle we do everything ourselves. And sometimes we ask ourselves how we actually do it all,” Jasmin laughs. There are always things that fall by the wayside that we just can’t do justice to in terms of time. But we always do our best, but we have to manage with the resources we have at the moment.”
But sometimes that’s not so easy, because the two of them are bubbling over with ideas and would love to have more time to realise them. At the moment, however, the focus is on the BeeProud.de online shop.
À propos, where does the name actually come from?
The bee is a symbol of a colorful world
In fact, our first thought was that the name and the accompanying logo stand for sustainability, because this is at least as important to the company as supporting the queer community. While this interpretation is not entirely wrong, it was not the actual intention.
“The bee is a proud animal that makes the world more colorful. And without the bees, the world would look very difficult. It is an essential animal.” And thus a wonderful symbol for those in the LGBTQIA+ community. “But we’ve also been asked if we’re a beekeeping company.”
“Proud” is almost self-explanatory, as it is the English term for “proud” – “be proud” therefore means “be proud”. A perfect play on words! Because “be proud”. BeeProud is also an invitation to be proud of how you feel. No matter what sexual orientation or gender the person feels they belong to. The logo hides another message, because the yellow stripe of the bee points in a different direction than the other stripes: “It’s a symbol that not everything has to go in the same direction to be harmonious.”
Wonderful designs as subtle statements
The two multi-talented designers have so far created all the designs of their products themselves, including the logo. For more specific motifs, however, they collaborate with creative artists, e.g. for the motifs “The Stonewall Riots” to commemorate the beginning of the queer movement in June 1969 and “Transition” to celebrate trans* people.
Working with artists also gives Steffi and Jasmin important input, because “you can’t always start from your own taste. It is then also difficult to put oneself in the position of what other people might like.”
We at matabooks can clearly subscribe to this statement. Especially when it comes to finding designs for our notebooks, it is sometimes difficult to assess which motifs will be well received and which will not. Putting one’s own preferences aside and looking through the eyes of another target group is essential in order to cater to as many tastes as possible.
Whatever makes you feel alive
Whatever makes you feel alive
The “Heartbeat” motif, which the two designed themselves, by the way, convinced us unanimously. “At first, the motif was only on T-shirts. It was about the heart beating in rainbow colors. The phrase ‘Whatever makes you feel alive’ was only added when the motif was also put on hoodies and posters. We wanted to include a clear sentence that says: It doesn’t matter how your heart beats. The main thing is that your heartbeat keeps you alive and makes you happy. Because in the end, life and Pride are all about being allowed to live as you are. We also don’t think the word “tolerate” is appropriate. I don’t want to be tolerated, I want to be accepted, at best unconditionally. Not only in the queer community but basically as a person who might not fit into this apparently standardized world. There are many kinds of discrimination, but our hearts are all the same and still beat the same. How and who you want to be and who you want to love should be up to you, as long as it is peaceful. The phrase ‘Whatever makes you feel alive’ just came out of the blue,” they say.
Where does it start?
But BeeProud.de is not just a shop for sleek and stylish LGBTQIA+ statements. There is much more behind it. They support the 100% MENSCH project, which works for full legal and social equality for all people. To this end, they do important educational work – both online and offline.
Jasmin and Steffi are both closely networked with the founder Holger Edmaier and therefore recommended this wonderful project to us. So we at matabooks decided to support it. For every sold Nari of the Pride Collection, a part of the proceeds goes to 100% MENSCH. Because people of the queer community are still treated unequally. And hate crimes against sexual orientation have steadily increased in recent years.
“You know a lot of stories. The question is, where does queer hostility start?” reflects Steffi. Jasmin adds, “Maybe we’ve experienced queer hostility too, only we’ve never felt it like this. Fortunately, we have never been approached or attacked in a physical form. But we are also not the kind of people who make this public. We do look at people holding hands or kissing. A lot of queer people do that.”
In fact, homophobic attacks are not reported much in the big media either, mostly people only hear about it within their bubble.
But queer hostility and discrimination does not mean physical violence. It starts much earlier: “When we have a child together, we are not automatically equal parents. Of course, that is also a kind of discrimination. Of course it has nothing to do with violence, you have to distinguish between the two.” Jasmin notes. Nevertheless, in this example they are not treated in the same way as heterosexual couples. And even in everyday situations they have to explain themselves again and again as a homosexual couple: “I think it’s also a kind of discrimination that you have to come out all the time. All the time. You don’t just have one outing. You have to explain yourself all the time. We are not platonic friends, we are not sisters. That’s usually not malicious discrimination. But then you think about whether you want to say something about it. You have this situation quite often.”
For heterosexual couples, a romantic dinner, an overnight stay in a hotel or even meeting family are not occasions where it is always questioned that they are in a relationship. For Jasmin and Steffi, however, and for many other queer people, they are. For some people it is easier to think around the corner than to see the obvious, because most people grow up with values that are not diverse. Older people in particular are even less likely to have grown up in a queer society.
“We hope that it will just change at some point and that society will no longer be so heteronormative. That girls, for example, are not automatically assumed to have boyfriends at some point.”
In the younger generations, their hopes are already being fulfilled to a large extent, because social media and close networking have made them more enlightened. But Jasmin and Steffi are also constantly learning, because in the past, many things were not even mentioned, such as non-binary and other sexual orientations. They think that this now emerging diversity helps younger people in particular to deal with themselves much more, to find themselves and to live out their own individuality. “Last year we were at the CSD in Dresden. There the audience was very young and we saw many different flags, like trans*, pansexual, nonbinary etc.. The labels help young people to recognize more quickly what they can identify with.”
In our blog post “Many bright colours – the short portrait of the Pride flags” you can find a good overview of the individual flags.
How to be Ally
You don’t have to be part of the queer community to support it. Even if you are a heterosexual person who fits into the heteronormative society, you can help. These people are called Straight Ally, which means heterosexual:r ally:r in German.
“You can wear great statements, of course.” Steffi laughs, but adds, “You can actively go to a CSD, those are also demonstrations and not just parties, fun and good mood. Even as an Ally you can help there, walk along and inform yourself. In situations where hurtful comments are made against queer people, you can point them out and pick them up. Even if there are no queer people there. You have to raise awareness, think one step further.”
“How cool would it be if a little kid didn’t have to grow up hearing say things like ‘You’re going to be a girl crush’ or ‘Girls are going to dig you’. Because maybe the child thinks ‘but I think boys are cool too’. That as a young being, you’re not directly told that you’ll have a girlfriend at some point, like in this case, but that it would also be totally cool if I brought a boy home.”
Her suggestion for sensitizing children as early as possible to a more diverse world is, therefore, to take up these themes in children’s books, for example with stories about rainbow families. As Ally, you can make the children’s bookshelf more colorful and diverse.
You see, even with small steps you can make the world more colorful, stand up for a marginalized group as an Ally, and show your support openly. Take a look at Beeproud.co.uk and discover wonderful, simple statements or add a little color to your everyday life with our Pride Naris.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop us a comment.
Telefoninterview vom 17. Mai 2022