LEGO is celebrating Pride Month with its new LGBTQIA+ set, “Everyone is Awesome”. The set is rainbow-themed with 11 mini-figures and 346 pieces.
Matthew Ashton, Vice President of Design at LEGO and designer of ‘Everyone is Awesome’, said that the set, “allows everybody to see that things do get better over time and there is a place for everybody.”
Ashton said that being openly LGBTQIA+, he wanted to support those in the process of coming out. “Being LGBTQIA+ myself, I knew I needed to step up to the plate and make a real statement about love and inclusivity, and generally spread some LEGO love to everybody who needs it.”
Growing up in the 80s, in the middle of the AIDS crisis, Ashton said that the negative stereotypes around being gay, was “incredibly daunting and scary”, and he understood at a personal level why representation was so important.
“Being quite an effeminate kid, I was constantly told by different adults around me what I should and shouldn’t play with, that I needed to behave like a ‘real boy’ and to toughen up. I was dissuaded from doing the things that came most naturally to me.”
“I think many of the adults around me were doing all of this to try to protect me from getting bullied, but I was actually fine with all the kids at school. All of that has had an impact on me in many ways; it was really exhausting and kicked my confidence,” Ashton said in a blog on LEGO’s website.
The Rainbow set colours are black, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, light blue, white and pink – the black and brown shows the diversity of LGBTQIA+ members and the light blue, white, and pink symbol of the transgender community. The addition to the standard six-colour flag is reflective of Daniel Quasar’s 2018 progress Pride flag.
The Pride special was met with an overwhelmingly positive response on social media. LEGO Masters 2018 contestant Nathan Stewart tweeted, “Love this LEGO set and the young man that made it possible, Matthew Ashton you Sir are an inspiration don’t ever change.”
— Nathan Stewart (@nathanstewart83) June 6, 2021
Tennessee-based LEGO gamer and father of two, who goes by the handle, DevoutGeek, posted, “Started Pride month with these ‘Everyone Is Awesome’ Lego sets! My boys were very eager to get these with their allowances and build them at home together!”
Started Pride month with these “Everyone is Awesome” Lego sets! My boys were very eager to get these with their allowances and build them at home together! #loveislove #lego #afol @matthew__ashton pic.twitter.com/WQHYwfgwpN
— RJ (@DevoutGeek) June 5, 2021
Gay LEGO fans were not far behind in welcoming the special set and seemed to have ordered them as soon as they hit the shelves.
Me: Ugh I hate how commercial and corporate Pride has become
Also me: I absolutely cannot rest until I buy the Lego pride set pic.twitter.com/DjVXcwW7cq
— Nathan, Technically a Scientist (@NathanConder) June 2, 2021
LA queer comedian Christ Bryant, who stars in the Netflix series Cooking On High, gave his own spin to the LEGO characters.
These Legos of my boyfriend and I are Pride Icons ™️ pic.twitter.com/LysLd5agqB
— Chris Bryant (@tenderchris) June 8, 2021
One Million Moms Against Lego Pride Set
There were the brickbats from the usual suspects. Monica Cole of One Million Moms created a petition to stop the set’s release, which now has 16,330 signatures and counting. She claims the company is “confusing our innocent children by attempting to normalise this lifestyle choice.”
One Melbourne-based parent swore off anything to do with LEGO. “Disappointing! I always bought Lego for my children! Not anymore! Indoctrinating our children, and pushing the LGBTQ down our throat is only going to have the opposite effect. Enough of this BS,” they said.
Disappointing! I always bought lego for my children! Not anymore! Indoctrinating our children, and pushing the LGBTQ down our throat is only going to have the opposite effect. Enough of this BS
— silvana (@silvana81890152) May 21, 2021
Representation in media is still low in film and television. GLAAD reported that of the 50 LGBTQIA+ characters in blockbuster films in 2020, only 28 received less than three minutes of screen time. Television has allowed for more representation, but is often met with backlash, from non-binary Marvel hero Snowflake on New Warriors, 12 year old trans Marvel hero Mighty Rebekah on Hero Project and Ruby Rose being cast as Batwoman, the first lesbian lead actor of a live-action superhero show.