By Mikkel Hyldebrandt
For lifestyle and activewear brand lululemon, supporting the LGBTQ+ community is more than a float in a Pride parade. In fact, this October marks the celebration of their first full year in partnership with organizations like Front Runners Atlanta, Hotlanta Soccer, Unharnessed Pride, Atlanta Rainbow Trout, and Queer Women’s Network (QWN) Run Club. The approach is simple: support those who are best skilled and experienced in the work and then support in the ways that are needed.
Marvin Guelce is the community lead for lululemon. For him, the key to unlocking greater possibilities are embedded in the lululemon product vision. “lululemon is a brand that sets out to create transformational products and experiences that build meaningful connections,” he explains, which is part of the reason why lululemon chose to partner with the LGBTQ+ organizations of AGSA (Atlanta Gay Sports Alliance) in the past year. “This journey started in October of 2021 by supporting a few of the groups that make up the AGSA. Because of the products and experiences we offer, it made sense to connect with organizations that support humans moving their bodies in a community setting.”
Based on the successful partnership, lululemon shifted its focus to support the youth LGBTQ organization Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) to act as an active ally in the fight against legislation that, if passed, could be harmful to LGBTQ+ youth. The newest relationship is with the Mayor’s Division of LGBTQ Affairs, which relates to the legislation and policy against all LGBTQ+ persons.
Specifically, for this Pride, lululemon has partnered with Front Runners and the other AGSA organizations to participate in the Atlanta Pride Parade. For Nikole Glaug, a lifelong runner and member of Front Runners Atlanta, having a sponsor as prestigious as lululemon goes beyond the confines of corporate sponsorship. “It indicates to me that the political vitriol consistently cast the way of the LGBTQ+ community, and most recently the Trans community, aren’t the prevailing sentiment. There are good, caring individuals and organizations in my community that love and support me and are willing to do so publicly.” With the support of lululemon, Nikole hopes to shine even brighter as a beacon of hope and inspiration for other trans-folx that may be struggling to find self-love and acceptance.
Chris Scandrett, defense and mid-field for the Hotlanta Soccer Team, sees the partnership going beyond marketing tactics to up sales during Pride. “Not many are willing to put their money where their mouth is. Lululemon has done just that, making them a true ally to our community.” Moreover, Chris sees the support amplifying the visibility of the spaces created specifically for the community, allowing people to compete, play, and network safely. That sentiment is seconded by Jesse Brunstad, co-founder of Queer Women’s Network Run Club, who sees lululemon’s support paving the way for more visibility. “Having lululemon’s support will give us more opportunities to connect with women searching for a supportive community,” she says.
To celebrate the community, empowerment, and visibility of Pride, Front Runners is creating a float for the parade – a task that hasn’t been easy in the past. “Our groups are usually overshadowed by large corporations,” says Jamel Grooms, member and Image Director of the Atlanta Rainbow Trout, so he appreciates that lululemon has gone all in by sponsoring local LGBTQ+ organizations. “Previous parades have been organized and funded by our own groups,” says DJ Pulce, creative and communications director for Front Runners Atlanta, “lululemon is giving us the opportunity to shine in our own community.”
Deonte Moore, who volunteers with Front Runners Atlanta, is also excited to have the support of lululemon in creating a memorable Pride float. “lululemon is a largely popular and inclusive brand, diversity is celebrated, and equity is the norm within their organization.” That same celebration of diversity and celebration will be reflected in the float, featuring a DJ, dancing in the street of Atlanta, and lots of cool stuff for the crowd. But the celebration doesn’t stop there!
lululemon is hosting a 10K Tour in Atlanta on October 22. For that, Front Runners Atlanta will not only participate as a run crew but also as a dedicated cheer station, aptly named Pride Valley. For Front Runners it is not only a way to cheer and support everyone who runs the 10K but a valuable chance to say thank you publicly and symbolically to lululemon and the local community for the support. For DJ Pulce, the partnership between lululemon and AGSA has given every sport a platform to shine. “Whether it’s running, swimming, soccer, rock climbing, or anything else, you have the whole Atlanta pride community behind you.”
So, what to expect when you run through Pride Valley? “We have a DJ spinning beats, a drag queen giving energetic and fierce performances, and some other surprises to motivate the runners,” reveals Nikole Glaug. Marvin, lululemon’s community lead, is also confident that this partnership will bring something entirely different to the 10K. “I’ve seen their cheer station plan, and I can confirm that they will be bringing a fresh flare to the 10k that is representative of Atlanta’s LGBTQ community.”
The lululemon 10K Tour ATL is October 22, 2022. To learn more and to register, go to atlanta.lululemon10ktour.com