By Calvin Berry
Not everyone has always been let in. Over the course of our nation’s history, there have long been thresholds banned for crossing, entrances blocked by hate and doors closed to the marginalized. This month, we celebrate those in the LGBTQ community who have burst through those closed doors, making clear the way for generations to come. We acknowledge sacrifices that have been and will continue to be made in the name of justice, and the distance left to go before we fully achieve that end. Finally, we celebrate our country’s growing attitude of welcoming, the doorways that have been opened and the spaces that accept, embrace, and foster loves of all kind, creed and color.
Last week, the Poketo crew got up early, put on our smocks and congregated in our own doorway. A doorway is the primary visual aspect of any space, and we wanted to send the message that ours is a place of inclusion and support, where everyone can express themselves. There has long been a strong connection between the LGBTQ community and the art world, and we wanted to create something that reflects the spirit that relationship. So, armed with brushes, ladders and enthusiasm, we worked together to repaint the entrance to our flagship store with the iconic rainbow colors of the LGBTQ flag.
Earlier this year, we lost a pioneer in the LGBTQ community when designer/ activist Gilbert Baker passed away. Baker first created the now ubiquitous rainbow pride flag in 1978, working with a team of 30 people to hand-dye and hand-stitch the original banner for the pride parade. His efforts, his legacy and his enduring artwork represent the ideals we aspire to with our #artspeaks campaign: art that has the power to change, that engages the community and speaks out in support of equality.
Soon, Poketo will be moving from our home in the Art District. Though we look forward to turning the next page in our story, we will miss our place as community leaders in this amazing and vibrant neighborhood. The time we have left in our current space is valuable, and through #artspeaks and our actions in the community, we hope to be intentional about the way we shape the landscape of our long-time home, ensuring it will always be a place where everyone belongs and all are welcome. We can start the way we begin every day: by opening our doors.