It’s the first week of June, Pride month is here, and businesses have already hard-launched their rainbow-themed mid-year projects. LEGO, a favorite toy maker of children and hobbyists alike, has also joined with its latest inclusive project, The A-Z of Awesome, through which the company hopes to make conversations and vocabulary about LGBTQ identities more accessible.
The A-Z of Awesome is a community-centered social media project highlighting LGBTQIA+ voices, including community members who were invited to share their stories through the art of building with the iconic colorful blocks. The campaign’s initial participants, all members of the broader LGBTQIA community, created LEGO dioramas based on their personal stories, like a butterfly-themed art piece for the trans community and a multi-perspective letter “Q” to honor the diversity of the queer community. The different scenes and their creator’s explanations create one part of LEGO’s proposed “alphabet” of identities. It’s the first of the LEGO Group’s Pride month initiatives.
The hope is for LEGO fans and the general public to add onto these initial efforts by creating their own letter-based builds with the blocks they already own, and join together in building an entirely queer-helmed “alphabet” — a spectrum of identities all the way from A to Z. Adding to the participant’s LEGO designs for letters like “L is for Lesbian” and “I is for Intersex,” individuals and families near and far are encouraged to build and submit their own LEGO designs and share them online with #AtoZofAwesome. LEGO asks participants to choose a word from their list of LGBTQ terms, or come up with their own, and include an explanation of the build’s meaning alongside a picture. The company will then feature the builds on a dedicated website.
On LEGO’s A-Z of Awesome page, you’ll even find interviews and profiles with the first set of builders, like intersex campaigner and A-Z of Awesome contributor Pidgeon Pagonis. “This project is important because there might be an intersex person out there who likes to build with LEGO bricks, and this can help them see themselves represented. It would have been a game changer for me to see myself reflected in stories in popular media and culture,” they wrote in the project’s press release.
The A-Z of Awesome is LEGO’s latest, but not first, campaign celebrating Pride month, following the launch of its first LGBTQ-themed set last year. The first Pride set, called “Everyone is Awesome,” included various monochrome figures in the colors of the Pride flag, with the intent that people could customize and build whatever kind of LEGO figures they wanted.
“As we start Pride month, it’s the perfect time for families to start new conversations about sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression,” wrote Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, executive director of LGBTQ education nonprofit GLSEN. “All children benefit from learning about the diverse world around them, and positive representation of LGBTQ+ identities, whether in school curriculum or in play, helps young people feel prepared to meaningfully engage in their communities.”
Most importantly, in a world in which corporate giants take every chance to “rainbow wash” the queer love and politics of Pride month, LEGO is putting its money where its mouth is, donating $1 million to various LGBTQ partners. LEGO has also collaborated with international Pride festivities and LGBTQ advocacy and educational organizations like Workplace Pride, Open for Business, and Stonewall.
“We hope [fans’] creativity and our A-Z of Awesome campaign inspires people of all ages and helps build greater awareness and acceptance,” said Alero Akuya, vice president of brand development at the LEGO Group. “We want to show people that with more love and understanding, people can be their true selves.”