Kaleidoscopic new Gap campaign celebrates real-life LGBT+ heroes: ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’

Kelsey Ellison and partner Rain Dove in the Gap Pride campaign

Gap has launched its 2021 Pride campaign to celebrate the LGBT+ community in all its kaleidoscopic glory – and to remind queer people they are in no way alone.

For Pride month, the retailer asked a diverse group of creatives, activists and members of the LGBT+ community to “fill in the Gap” – sharing with the world what makes them proud, whether it’s being queer, trans, Black, a mother, in love.

Discussing what it is about their identity that brings them joy, they also reveal why they are excited about the future ahead.

Alongside Sakeema Peng Crook, musician Delilah Montagu, model Rain Dove, actor Kelsey Ellison and Gap district manager Bryan Oliver, one of the faces of the Gap campaign is trailblazing trans activist and filmmaker Rico Jacob Chace.

Sakeema Peng Crook in Gap Pride campaign

Sakeema Peng Crook. (Gap)

Chace would never have expected to see Pride flags hung up in shopping malls as a dewy-eyed but go-getting teen living through Section 28, let alone his own face on a campaign that champions diversity.

“Visibility matters,” the 28-year-old told PinkNews. “As Dr Ronx says: ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’.”

Rico Jacob Chace. (Gap)

When Chace was in school, there was a complete dearth of LGBT+ role models.

“I didn’t know there were active members of the LGBT+ community that I could look up to and aspire to be,” he said.

“The Gap campaign gave me the opportunity to be my true self in a public setting and to prove to other people that you can be accepted as your true self. I was actually so chuffed by the solidarity!”

Gap district manager Bryan Oliver. (Gap)

Chace is also a board member of TransActual UK, a trans advocacy group that seeks to debunk thorny transphobic myths while amplifying trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming voices.

His work today is worlds away from the corporate life he lived just years ago. Prejudice was as common as pointless emails back then, he said, and it led to him being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“It’s not normal to be fighting to get your job done,” Chace said, before adding: “So much work needs to be done.

“For a well-respected corporation [like Gap] to take a stand, to say being Black and trans is something that can be celebrated… that’s an achievement.

“I don’t even see it as just me,” he said of his involvement, “I see it as the community making a statement.”

Gap Pride campaign

Delilah Montagu. (Gap)

Chace is a Gemini and says he struggles to talk about the future – but when he speaks about what’s next for the LGBT+ community, he seems at ease – as if he’s daydreamed of it a thousand times before.

“Every single activist is fighting the same beast,” the public speaker said, “and I feel as if those who acknowledge that realise that we need to have a society that celebrates the fluidity of gender and sexuality.

“I think that, when we get there, it’ll be beautiful.”

Gap is proud to donate $50,000 to GLAAD, a leading media advocacy organization working to accelerate acceptance for the LGBT+ community. Visit Gap UK on Instagram and Facebook throughout June to see the campaign come to life, and to share what makes you proud.