Legend has it that on the night of the police raid at the Stonewall Inn gay bar in June 1969, a Black trans woman—believed to be Marsha P. Johnson—kicked off resistance to the arrests by throwing a brick at police. Or maybe it was a shot glass, a new campaign from Wieden + Kennedy New York suggests. Either way, the uprising is the inspiration for the LGBTQ Pride celebrations that fall on the last weekend of June each year.
LGBTQ employees from W+K’s affinity group Acronym decided to use the brick as a symbol for queer resistance in a new in-house campaign. Starting Monday evening and continuing through Friday, the rainbow-hued Queer Brick is being auctioned off online, with 100% of the final proceeds going to New York City’s Ali Forney Center for homeless LGBTQ youth.
“A lot of queer employees, allies and friends of the agency chipped in to make this happen,” said Michael Hagos, creative at W+K New York. “As an agency, we feel like we owe it to ourselves, our clients and the LGBTQ community to make sure we’re using our platforms to support queer people in meaningful ways, and not just in June.”
The video for the campaign mocks the kind of corporate pinkwashing that has come to overwhelm Pride with increasing rainbow-fueled LGBTQ marketing year over year. Teasing the sale of “gay water” is a bit of a self-referential jab for an agency that’s helped create Pride campaigns for brands such as Equinox and Heineken.
The team behind Queer Brick said that although they feel it’s important to break LGBTQ advocacy out of the usual June marketing avalanche, the marketing itself is still an important part of the push for equality.
“We think it’s awesome when brands support the LGBTQ community and in some ways, them doing so has contributed to the enormous progress we’ve seen in acceptance over time,” said W+K New York copywriter Brad Phifer.
The Queer Brick, according to the auction website created by the team, weighs about 4.5 pounds and is “hand painted by Black queer hands.” The brick comes with detailed instructions on use, too.
“Do not throw this brick.
Do use it to tear things down when necessary.
Do use it to rebuild.
Do use it to create new structures.
Do use it to pave new roads.”
The team suggests that the brick—which comes on its own fancy marble stand, with faux broken glass underneath—be used to inspire a leader to continue to make change by hiring trans and nonbinary employees.
For those not lucky—or wealthy—enough to win the auction, there’s also a limited edition of 100 11-inch by 14-inch posters for sale priced at $50 each. Phifer said that W+K will likely print another run with enough demand, so that more money can be raised for the Ali Forney Center. The center’s programs for LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness include emergency shelter, a drop-in center, transitional living, job training programs, healthcare, and more.
“Rainbow-washing is no longer enough,” reads the copy on the Queer Brick auction site. “Pride Month is no longer enough. #loveislove has never been enough. Black trans people need your voice, your volume, your presence, your money, your feet on the pavement. Don’t be an ally. Be an activist.”
Brad Phifer – Copywriter
Michael Hagos – Art Director
Daniella Vargas – Business Affairs Manager
Yukino Moore – Art Producer
Rodrigo Nino – Producer
Adrian Brinkley – Senior Social Strategist
Kristi Kaneyuki – HR Coordinator
Quentin Perry – Business Affairs Manager
Jill Kearton – Studio Manager
Sophie Turk – Print Producer
Kevin Walker – Retoucher
Jesse Corinella – Senior Retoucher
Chris McClelland – Head of Retouching
Kristin Gladney – Photographer
W+K NY Studio
Connor Corr – Social Strategist