AT THE HEART OF THE CAMPAIGN
Giving back to the local communities in India has always been at the heart of O My Bag. From the very beginning, when we had just started our production in India, it was obvious that besides trade relations, it was also essential to positively impact the surrounding communities to create a change.
That’s one of the reasons we wanted to roll out a larger campaign for Pride Month focusing on giving back. After searching for the perfect partner over the past couple of years, the Naz Foundation has made this possible. Naz is an Indian non-profit organization. It was founded in 1994 in New Delhi by Anjali Gopalan and started its work by addressing issues of HIV/AIDS and sexuality. The foundation’s vision is “to create a just and equitable society by transforming individuals from socially and economically excluded communities into agents of change.” The word ‘naz’ translates from Urdu as ‘pride.’
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO US?
For us, the purpose of this project is to share our platform with Naz. With campaigns like this, it is crucial not only to speak up as a brand but also to provide a space for the communities to do it themselves. June (and, honestly, all year round) is the time for queer people to speak, and companies shouldn’t overshine them. It is often seen in different industries that brands want to show support for the LGBTQ+ community superficially by adding rainbow stripes to their logos and hanging Pride flags on the windows. However, a simple question behind these gestures is often missing “How will this help the community?” For example, certain US companies proudly change their logos for June to state support for the LGBTQIA+ community but donate millions of dollars to anti-LGBTQ lawmakers, and we’re seeing the effects of those actions now as harmful legislation sweeps the US.
We also see that pinkwashing is becoming extreme in recent years. We simply cannot produce and sell Pride merchandise and, at the same time, capitalize on the LGBTQ+ community without actually trying to help. While representation and support matter, it is also essential to back up all the words or visual signs of support with action. One of O My Bag’s core values is “Everything worth doing is worth doing right,” and we are committed to keeping our word.
It is also very important to us to show what the life of queer people outside the Western world is like. While constantly fighting for our rights here, in Europe, we often forget that there’s a whole world out there with diverse and unique cultures. We may have absolutely different or very similar experiences, and we all deserve a little help to improve our lives, to improve the life of the whole community. When you’re helping one, you’re helping us all. And now we have a chance to do so across the world, from India to Europe.
WEAR PRIDE ON YOUR STRAP
To support the campaign, we are releasing our first-ever Rainbow Webbing Strap in mid-June. All revenue* from the straps will go directly to the Naz Foundation to help them build a new community center in New Delhi. The revenue from the straps will be donated as long as they are in stock.
This center will be the first of its kind in New Delhi. It will serve as a “hub” where people can receive face-to-face counseling, professional and career training, STD testing, clinic referrals, and many more points of support. More importantly, the center will be able to provide the visitors with a network of like-minded people. This will be a safe space to create unity and find chosen families, attend group counseling, or simply sit inside and read in the comfort of the planned library. The desperate need for such a community center is evident: Every month, Naz receives over 70 serious calls for help on their dedicated LGBTQIA+ helpline and constantly receives requests for help in their DM’s on social media, but it isn’t easy to meet every need without a physical hub. Naz is already well on its way to build the center as the architectural plans have been drawn up. When funding comes in, the renovation of the large basement under their HQ will start specifically for this purpose.
WHAT TO EXPECT?
We would love to share more with you about what the life of LGBTQIA+ people in India is like. Through Instagram “takeovers,” Naz will share more about how arranged marriages affect queer lives, the reality of decriminalization of same-sex sexual acts, and the ban on conversion therapy. The culture of transgender people in India compared to the West will also be a topic of discussion, followed by how social media is used to normalize LGBTQ+ life. Finally, Naz will share more about its history in HIV prevention and decriminalizing homosexuality and the organization’s further plans. Follow us on Instagram to keep up with our updates.
But we will not stop collaborating with Naz as soon as June ends. For us, the conversation about LGBTQIA+ is an ongoing one, and we will continue this partnership throughout the year. It is still important for us to launch this campaign in June, as it is a history month of queer liberation. This month is the perfect opportunity to talk about the pressing issues the community still faces, as well as celebrate the equality, visibility, and all the achievements made throughout the years across the world.
Here’s what Will Adam, Naz’s communications specialist says about our collaboration, “Many companies paint themselves with rainbow colors in June but show their true colors when you peel back the first layer. Not O My Bag - their wonderful staff came to us with a genuine heart and a desire to improve the lives of India’s beautiful LGBTQ+ people. We are pleased to say that O My Bag has Pride running through and through.”
And I am so happy to finally share our Pride and happiness with you. This campaign is very close to my heart, and I cannot wait for you all to see it and celebrate with us.