UGG believes prom is an experience everyone should get to enjoy. For our fifth year, UGG and Pacific Pride Foundation have reimagined the age-old tradition with PROUD Prom – an inclusive event with local LGBTQIA+ and allied youth from Santa Barbara and the coastal communities of California. A celebration of identity and love, this year’s virtual prom included friends of the brand like Maya Samaha from FEEL YOU. They are a dancer, actor, model, and movement director for music videos and photoshoots. Off-duty, they love roller skating and writing.
To extend the story of our campaign, we interviewed them on a range of subjects from identity to style.
My journey to acknowledging my identity and my pronouns was actually pretty recent. I’m still on my journey of acceptance. I think it takes people a long time to figure out who they are, where they feel comfortable, and find the spaces that allow them to identify as “they.” I think that “she” is a really comfortable space for everybody else, and I think that I identify with “she” comfortably for the straight gaze. I think “they” is more personal for me of how I actually feel and where I feel comfortable.
“They” is more personal and speaks to who I actually feel like on the inside and where I feel comfortable. I remember the first time someone referred to me as “they,” I felt seen and respected. It was new, but it felt good, and I needed to dive into why that made me feel so good. I didn’t grow up around the queer generation – you were either straight or gay, nothing in between. If you were any of those things, you should not tell anyone. I think I’ve learned a lot in the last five years about how to articulate and understand pronouns and what it means to me. I’m still figuring it out with myself, and I’m enjoying discovering myself in my own time.
When you grow up in an environment that doesn’t allow you to express how you feel and be the version of you that you are, it’s really difficult to be on that journey, accept yourself, and love yourself. It’s a mix of feelings. It’s ultimately freeing to be able to identify how you feel, and I think that’s the goal for every person who is in this community – we just want to feel free, and we want to feel seen and heard. Sometimes, that starts with ourselves. It’s a journey.
ON PROUD PROM:
I think celebrations like PROUD Prom are great. I think it’s good for kids to see representation, and if my high school threw a gay prom, I would’ve been there. That would have been really cool.
My big wish for my community would be to see Black trans women in positions of power. At the end of the day, they are on the front lines fighting for what we have. I want to see them free because when they’re free, we’re all free, and when they’re winning, we’re all winning.
I think the most important thing that allies can do for us is listen and learn. There’s still a lot to learn, and there’s still a lot to make space for. I think we really need to acknowledge the trans community and be aware of the resources that they need, because everything starts with them. That’s the only reason why I’m an openly queer woman who feels comfortable to take up any kind of space, and why I have the rights that I have. As allies, it’s just important to really listen, learn, step outside of your bubble, and educate yourself.
ON CHALLENGES FACING THE COMMUNITY:
Some challenges facing the LGBTQIA+ community are access to healthcare, housing, work discrimination, the list goes on – so, we still have a long way to go. It’s not rainbows all the time, and I think it’s important for people to understand that, because there are still a lot of things stopping the LGBTQIA+ community from thriving and rising up right now. There are a lot of things we need to undo, and there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.
It’s really important to see representation – people that look like me and feel like me being successful leaders, pursuing their dreams, and making things happen. My pride comes from being unapologetic, taking risks, and showing other people that you can do whatever you want to do, you can be exactly who you are, and you don’t have to suppress any of that.
My style is very fluid. You get the masculine; you get the feminine – a little bit of both, which is who I am.
Just being cozy, being comfortable is really important. As I’ve gotten older, I just want to be as comfortable as possible in any room. UGG is definitely a cozy, cozy brand.