Credit: Ryan McGinley/Calvin Klein
Black trans model Jari Jones fronts Calvin Klein's Pride campaign
In front of a massive Calvin Klein billboard in Manhattan, Black transgender model, actress and activist Jari Jones popped a bottle of champagne while her own likeness looked down over the city streets. The image of herself she was celebrating is part of Calvin Klein's 2020 Pride campaign #PROUDINMYCALVINS, which features a cast of nine LGBTQ models including Jones, who identifies as a transqueer lesbian.
"It has been such an honor and pleasure to sit in my most authentic self and present imagery of a body that far to often has been demonized, harassed, made to feel ugly and unworthy and even killed," she wrote on Instagram on June 23.
The other eight models include Brazilian drag queen Pabllo Vittar, trans genderqueer YouTube personality Chella Man, queer pop artist Gia Woods, and "13 Reasons Why" actor Tommy Dorfman, who is gay. The series of pictures and videos were shot by American photographer Ryan McGinley.
In 2019, "Pose" actor Indya Moore was chosen to represent the brand's Pride collection, but this marks the largest casting for a Calvin Klein Pride campaign ever, which also includes a partnership with OutRight Action International and its COVID-19 LGBTIQ+ Global Emergency Fund.
Jones first posted about the campaign on June 19, writing on Twitter: "Today, on #JUNETEENTH2020 a Fat Black Trans Woman Looks over New York." The campaign comes at a time when Black Lives Matter protests continue around the world, along with demands for anti-racism and less lip service to inclusivity across multiple industries including fashion.
Calls to celebrate and protect Black trans people in particular, who are especially vulnerable to discrimination and violence, arose following the killing of Riah Milton in Ohio and Dominique "Rem'Mie" Fells in Pennsylvania in mid June, the same week that President Trump revoked protection for LGBTQ+ people in the US healthcare system. On June 14, thousands of New Yorkers gathered in front of the Brooklyn Museum in a rally for Black trans people.
A statement from Calvin Klein said that each of the nine models featured in #PROUDINMYCALVINS were selected for their powerful yet relatable stories. Positive messaging about identity, allyship and self-appreciation surrounds many of the campaign images online. "Embrace yourself from an earlier stage because the person you grow into is incredible," reads a quote by model Reece King, while Gia Woods says: "I think that's the best feeling in the world. To know that you could be a voice for someone and help them."
In a video on Calvin Klein's YouTube channel Jones talks about how she supports other younger members of the LGBTQ community. "I'm a mom to a whole bunch of queer youth. Some of these kids have come to New York City without a dime in their pocket and just a big dream. But, you know, they have things against them -- they're of color, they're queer, they're trans, and I'm just there to be their support."