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 12-year old Mads Hamilton from Burbank, and 28-year-old Sky Limón, 17-year-old Roz Borah, and the Browns from Santa Barbara.
To extend the story of our campaign, we interviewed them on a range of subjects from identity to allyship.
MADS HAMILTON ON IDENTITY:
I think you should be able to identify the way you identify without anybody telling you differently, because nobody else should be able to control the way that you are.
SKY LIMÓN ON PRONOUNS:
I am pansexual and non-binary, and I use they/them pronouns. It’s important for people to use the correct pronouns because for me, they/them is a neutral pronoun. It does not mean that I am a woman and does not mean that I am a man. If you are using the correct pronouns, it is acknowledging that they exist as who they are, and it’s crucial for the community to understand that. It is showing respect for someone.
ROZ BORAH ON COMMUNITY:
I made friends with a group of people in seventh grade, and none of us were out at the time, but over the next three or four years, all of us slowly came out as trans, gay, non-binary, and all sorts of things. It sort of felt like we found each other before we knew that we needed each other, or before we knew why we needed each other. It’s such a supportive group of people, and we support each other through all kinds of things. I have some friends in the group who have used four or five different names, and we’re always able to adapt to that and be there for each other, even when other people might not be. That’s really valuable for me.
THE BROWNS ON FAMILY:
ASHE: We really wanted a family because we always wanted to be moms. That’s just something that’s been innate in our being. It was very clear to us when we were 26 and 27 that it was time – we’d already been together for almost ten years. On top of that, we just really wanted to create the family that we want to see in the world. A family that is diverse, that is loving. Luckily, we do have great families on our side, but this was our turn to do it our way.
MADS HAMILTON ON ALLYSHIP:
The tips I would give to people who don’t understand is to educate yourself and expose yourself to people who identify as pangender or people in the LGBTQIA+ community who face mis-gendering, transphobia, or homophobia. Talk about it with somebody who has experienced that before, because they can tell you what it’s like, and you can get a better, more empathetic view on what their life is like.
SKY LIMÓN ON MISGENDERING:
Misgendering someone, including using the incorrect pronoun, shows that you’re not being mindful of who they are showing up as. You are not acknowledging their true identity, which can often lead to negative mental health states, as well as contributing to their gender dysphoria.
ROZ BORAH ON CHALLENGES FACING THE COMMUNITY:
Some of the biggest challenges facing the LGBTQIA+ community are the problems facing trans people – specifically trans minors, whose rights to take medical steps in their transitions before they turn 18 are being taken away in a lot of states. I know for my friends who are trans and pursuing hormone replacement therapy that is so important for their mental health and even physical wellbeing. I hate to think so many people don’t have access to that.
THE BROWNS ON PROUD PROM:
CHRISTIN: Celebrations like PROUD Prom have been monumental and pivotal in our lives from a very early age. When we met, we were 17 to 18 years old. That was something that really stood out in our own lives at the time. I think it’s beautifully ironic and also perfect timing that here we are doing this right now – we’re able to reflect back on the beginning, the genesis of she and I getting together and really realizing how important it was for us early on. I think this is beyond important, and I feel honored to be a part of it with my wife.
ASHE: Growing up in the Bay Area, we were blessed to have a community that put on gay proms twenty years ago. Now that the world is allowing and catching up to diversity and inclusiveness, hopefully we won’t need a gay prom – we just have a prom. Proms twenty years ago were different because a lot of people were against same-sex couples and the gay prom. We were teenagers, and they would picket against our right to enjoy ourselves and have an inclusive prom. I don’t think that’s happening these days, but it was quite a traumatic experience to say the least.
MADS HAMILTON ON SELF-DISCOVERY:
I found out I was pansexual and used all pronouns pretty early, but I think a lot of people struggle with the way they identify and the people who they love. I think we should have more foundations and more gender therapy to help people with that.
SKY LIMÓN ON REPRESENTATION:
Big brands should really think about being inclusive with their marketing and the folks they serve. More specifically, seeing representation in the media is something that’s really big, and it’s unfortunately something that’s not really seen. For example, the trans community is very underrepresented, as well as gender-neutral folks or folks who are non-binary. Seeing people that look like yourself in media makes you feel like you belong in this world. Seeing somebody in media really helps make you feel like you’re not the only one out there, that there’s others like you.
ROZ BORAH ON ACCEPTANCE:
Acceptance and allyship are so important because the majority of the world isn’t part of the LGBTQIA+ community, and they all have a part to play in making this world a safe place for people in the community.
THE BROWNS ON GAY MARRIAGE:
ASHE: One of the more pivotal moments in our couple history that has to do with the LGBTQIA+ community was when California legalized gay marriage in 2008, and then it was on the ballot to be taken away. I’ll never forget: Kristen had been wanting to propose to me for a while, but we didn’t have time because we were scared our rights were going to be taken away. I remember it was the month of September. We looked at each other and we’re like, this is our opportunity. If we don’t take this chance and legally get married, we might not ever have this opportunity again. We got married on October 3, 2008. Literally four weeks later, the ability of anybody else in the community to get married was taken away. We were able to keep our rights, but that discrimination should have never been on the ballot. That’s why the Supreme Court knocked that down in 2015 – actually on my birthday, which was like such a great gift. Now, it’s the law of the land that anyone can get married, but that was not always the case. So, I think that in 2008, we knew things needed to change and that this was a pivotal moment in history.