At AEO, we celebrate the diversity of one through the inclusion of many. Throughout the month of June, we will be celebrating associates who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community – highlighting their accomplishments, learning about their unique roles and hearing about their experience at AEO!
As we continue to celebrate Pride month, we’re excited to introduce Joshua H. (he/him/his), Assistant Coordinator – AE Men’s Visual Merchandising and LQBTQIA+ history buff. Joshua joined AEO four years ago and shared his story with us about being his real self at work as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.
You’re in Visual Merchandising at AE. Tell us more about your role at the company and your favorite part about your job.
Yes! As part of a team that is responsible for the look and feel for each season in our lab store, we work through multiple scenarios to find the best way for all of the products to mesh together and create a cohesive store experience that reinforces our biggest ideas and campaign! My favorite part of working in visual merchandising with AE is being able to work so closely with the product in our stores and seeing the space transform every season.
We’re loving that our associates were featured in this year’s AE Pride campaign. Give us all of the fun details about what being part of the campaign was like!
Being in the photo studio was a really cool experience! Everyone on set was smiling and dancing along with us. Meeting my colleagues Trenita, Caitlyn, and Kieran, who were in the campaign with me, was so special, too. Having a once in a lifetime experience with them is something that I will always remember. It was also a nice reminder that our community exists in every aspect of the company and that being queer is something that will always bring us together. mxmtoon was such a light in the room too, we danced to ABBA the whole day with her and laughed so much.
Seeing myself and my cast mates on the Times Square billboard proves that our brand proudly supports our queer associates and customers. I hope that us being in the campaign for such a large company will inspire people to live their lives as their truest selves.
How do you get to be your real, authentic self every day?
There’s never a doubt in my mind that everyone on my team accepts not only myself but everyone for who they are. It feels like we are all friends, more than co-workers. When we do have those moments to sit back and relax, we are always laughing, dancing around, and there’s never a dull moment.
I believe that you are a product of the people you spend the most time with and my friends are the best group of people in the world. Having friends that support and uplift each other is integral to the person I am. It’s second nature to do anything we can to make someone feel welcomed, seen, and accepted when they are with us.
What does Pride mean to you?
Pride to me is all about history. I believe that knowledge is power and knowing the roots of our community, like the Stonewall riots that lead us down the path of queer rights or knowing about queer advocates like Martha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Laverne Cox, and Peter Stanley who fought and continue to fight for visibility and equality for the queer community. If you know where we came from as a community you can be a better intersectional champion for your community. I like to use Pride Month specifically to read literature from queer artists and take in as much queer media as I can.
Pride is about visibility. Being seen, heard, and letting the world know that we are here to stay and that despite ongoing attempts, we can’t be erased. We will continue to stand up, as we have before and protect our queer family.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Just treat people with kindness and don’t be afraid to be yourself. You’ll never regret it.
Watch below to hear Joshua talk about owning his REAL self, and see how AEO makes him feel part of a community!