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Why I designed “Everyone is Awesome”

Why I designed “Everyone is Awesome” by Matthew Ashton

The starting point for this was my feeling that we, as a society, could be doing more to show support for each other and appreciate our differences. Being LGBTQIA+ myself, I knew I needed to step up to the plate and make a real statement about love and inclusivity, and generally spread some LEGO® love to everybody who needs it. Children are our role models and they welcome everyone, no matter their background. Something we should all be aspiring to.

Representation is so important. I grew up in the 80s 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 quite an effeminate kid, I was constantly told by different adults around me what I should and shouldn’t play with, that I needed to behave like a ‘real boy’ and to toughen up. I was dissuaded from doing the things that came most naturally to me. 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. All of that has had an impact on me in many ways; it was really exhausting and kicked my confidence.

The “Everyone is Awesome” set
The “Everyone is Awesome” set

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. That’s what’s been so important to me in getting this set out with a message that we can be really proud of.

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Coming out is the period in your life where I think you can feel the loneliest and so uncertain about what your future is going to hold once you have taken that step. 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. You don’t know how friends and family are going to react. You’re afraid of what the consequences may be.

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.”

So, in a way, this set is not just for the LGBTQIA+ community. It’s for all of the allies – parents, siblings, friends, schoolmates, colleagues etc. – out there as well.

I was one of the lucky ones who was able to come out and had people there to support me. But there are so many that face so much discrimination, hate or violence. With this set I just want to make sure that we’re showing a bit of love and support to everybody who needs it

Design-wise, I love how bold yet simplistic the set is. It sends a powerful message, but it is also fun and quirky and doesn’t take itself too seriously. We’ve made sure to include black and brown colors to represent the broad diversity of everyone within the LGBTQIA+ community. We’ve also added in the pale blue, white and pink to support and embrace the trans community as well. I purposely put the purple drag queen in as a clear nod to the fabulous side of the LGBTQIA+ community. I hope it’s a joy to build and a joy to look at, and hopefully it will bring a lot of joy to people’s lives.

This is one of the sets that I am most proud of. Because of the statement that it’s making, I’m really proud that I’m working for a company that wants to have a voice on topics like this. I am really happy that it has allowed me to create something that all our LGBTQIA+ employees can be really proud of as well and can feel acknowledged by. This sends a signal to everyone that this is what we stand for at The LEGO Group and that we want to embrace all of you, because creativity is for everyone. We do truly feel that everyone is awesome. We all have the right to be accepted, to be loved and also to be creative. With this set, we hope to show that we care, no matter who you are.

Matthew Ashton is the Vice President of Design at the LEGO Group and Designer of the Everyone Is Awesome model. During his illustrious twenty years here, he has been responsible for the development of multiple play themes, Collectible Minifigures, been involved in the executive production of the LEGO Movie and sequels and been Head Judge on LEGO Masters UK.

Everyone is Awesome

LEGO® play is for everyone, irrespective of race, gender, how you identify or who you love. Discover some of the ways we embody that belief in our day-to-day work as a company.