Gay Man Behind Lego’s LGBTQ-Themed Set Discusses Designing An Inclusive Toy

Lego has released its first ever LGBTQ-themed toy set, named “Everyone is Awesome,” a rainbow-colored set of bricks and figurines to honor the LGBTQ+ community for Pride 2021.

The set, which went on sale on June 1st to mark the start of Pride Month, includes more than 340 pieces with 11 figurines that are each allocated a color from the rainbow flag, an enduring sign of the LGBTQ+ community.

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The set's designer Matthew Ashton said being LGBTQ+ himself, he knew he needed to step up to the plate and make a real statement about love and inclusivity this year.

“Representation is so important,” Ashton explained. “I grew up in the 80’s and was obviously a gay kid. There was a lot of negativity back then around being gay; it was right in the middle of the AIDS crisis when I was a young teen and that was incredibly daunting and scary.”

Being what he described as “quite an effeminate kid,” Ashton said he was constantly told by different adults in his life what toys he should and shouldn’t play with, and that he needed to behave like a ‘real boy’ and to ‘toughen up.’ 

Hearing those words was disheartening, he said, and he found himself being dissuaded from doing the things that came most naturally to him. 

“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,” Ashton said. “All of that has had an impact on me in many ways; it was really exhausting and kicked my confidence. So, I think by taking small steps and having products like “Everyone is Awesome” out there and people representing the LGBTQIA+ community, it allows everybody to see that things do get better over time and there is a place for everybody.”

Ashton also said the rainbow-colored toy set was meant to be a celebration of both the LGBTQ+ community within the Lego company and among the iconic toy’s adult fans.

But, in a way, he said the “Everyone is Awesome” Lego set is not just for the generations of LGBTQ+ Lego-lovers. It’s also for all of the allies; the parents, siblings, friends, schoolmates, and colleagues, who want to show support to the LGBTQ+ people in their lives.

“I came out in my late teens. For some people, it’s easier than it used to be, but there are still a lot of struggles for people that are coming out and it’s a really scary process,” Ashton said. “If I had been given this set by somebody at that point in my life, it would have been such a relief to know that somebody had my back. To know that I had somebody there to say ‘I love you, I believe in you. I’ll always be here for you.’”

Lego isn’t the first toy company to focus on LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the past few years. In 2019, doll maker Mattel announced the production of “Creatable World,” its first doll line to feature gender-inclusive toys.

Posted by Brit Smith

Brit Smith is a Staff Writer & Associate Editor at GWK. A native of London, England, she started her American adventure nannying and waiting tables in Texas in 2006, and eventually graduated magna cum laude from the University of California, Berkeley in 2017. She now lives in Massachusetts with her husband and their two dogs Cosmo and Juno. Brit has previously written and created podcasts for WBZ NewsRadio, iHeart Media, and Different Leaf.



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