The journey begins with a smile…
By: Jumol Royes
Brought to you by: Crest
It’s just a smile, but it can make a difference.
For a female university student nervously sharing a story about a same-sex kiss and coming out as a lesbian to one of her friends, or a transgender woman telling a guy she’s trans and would like to go out on a second date, or a drag performer being seen in drag for the first time by their dad, a smile is more than just a smile – it’s a signal of support and a sign of an ally in the making.
Crest believes that support starts with a smile and that a smile can help serve as a positive first step towards building strong allyship with the LGBTQ community. As part of its #CrestSmileWithPride campaign (which includes billboards, posters and social media conversations), the brand has partnered with three Toronto-based LGBTQ influencers – Vanessa Webster (@v_webs), Jay Strut (@jaystrut) and JuiceBoxx (@juiceboxxofficial) – to create video vignettes where they share their real stories of when a smile turned tension into acceptance. The hope is that the campaign will inspire others to do the same.
“For me, being a part of this campaign really means being completely proud to share who I am and my journey without inhibition,” says Jay Strut. “As much as I sometimes feel like I should keep certain things to myself to protect others, being part of this campaign reminds me that I am not living to protect others, but to live my best life – and that’s really what Pride Month is all about.”
We like that the campaign amplifies the voices of people in marginalized communities and sends a message that even small acts of kindness – like a smile – can have a meaningful impact.
“By making our stories heard, it creates a dialogue that might not have happened otherwise. It would have made a huge difference in my coming out if I had seen something like what Crest is doing,” says JuiceBoxx, a self-described “drag unicorn princess.”
Because ally is an action word, Crest is also actively working to raise $50,000 (double the amount raised last year) in support of the Green Space Festival and year-round programs at The 519.
“At Crest, we believe in the power of a healthy, beautiful smile,” says Neil Mistry, Crest Canada’s brand director. “Our latest #CrestSmileWithPride campaign, now in its third year, captures real stories from the LGBTQ+ community. The stories highlight key moments where a simple smile can truly make a difference to those who need it most. We hope this campaign will inspire all Canadians with its ‘support starts with a smile’ message.”
While a smile is always a good place to start, there are other practical and proactive steps you can take on the journey towards becoming an ally (as outlined in The 519’s guide to being an effective trans ally):
You may need to stand beside someone to support them. Listen to them and walk with them through an experience.
You may need to stand in front of someone to help them avoid harm and hurt.
You may need to stand behind someone to support them, recognizing that they are the experts and know what is best for them.
Just remember: a supportive smile can be the first step in impacting someone’s life.
JUMOL ROYES is a Toronto-based communications strategist and content writer with a keen interest in personal development and transformation. Follow him on Twitter at @Jumol.
– Smiling With Pride