'You will never take away our pride': Lauren Chan represents Toronto queer history at Miami Swim Week

The Canadian model wore a dress featuring a 1971 Toronto Pride picnic photo after Florida moved to ban rainbow colours on its bridges.

Lauren Chan at the 2024 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Launch Party held at the Hard Rock Cafe on May 16, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Kristina Bumphrey/Variety via Getty Images)
Lauren Chan is representing Toronto's queer history at this year's Miami Swim Week. (Photo by Kristina Bumphrey/Variety via Getty Images)

Lauren Chan is sharing a bit of Toronto history at this year's Miami Swim Week.

The Canadian model posted a carousel of photos on Instagram on Saturday featuring a custom-made black-and-white gown she wore in Miami to kick off Pride Month. The voile dress, created by Canadian fashion designer Mario Fugnitto, showed off a vintage photo taken during the first-ever Toronto "Gay Day Picnic" for Pride on Aug. 1, 1971.

That event, organized by the Community Homophile Association of Toronto and Toronto Gay Action, was held at Hanlan's Point, according to The ArQuives. The following year, a Pride week was held in the city, along with another picnic and a small march in Toronto.

Chan indicated in her post that she wanted to hit back at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, after he banned rainbow colours from being illuminated on the state's bridges ahead of Pride month. She called it the state's "newest, sad attempt to ostracize queer folks."

"But you know what? You will never take away our pride," Chan penned. She was one of 13 models — as well as several influencers like fellow Canadian Sarah Nicole Landry, Lele Pons and Jilly Anais — who walked the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit show on June 1 at W South Beach hotel.

The look comes a year after Chan walked the runway holding a black handbag with the words "say gay" written in large white font, something she called a "small but mighty protest."

"We wanted to show up here without compromising who we are and who we celebrate," the model added. "So, if you watch the show tonight, know that my energy is coming from a place of community. Hope you can join me in kicking off Pride month with that same spirit of protest and joy!"

In the comments section of the post, fans showed their appreciation for Chan, with many expressing their love for the look.

"You’re amazing. Looove this look," Ontario-based body-positive content creator Landry shared.

"Love this, love you, no one can shut down pride energy!!" Canadian TV host Chloe Wilde raved.

"This is incredible. Lauren, my gosh, you are incredible. Exuding so much permission for so many others to be themselves through fashion. My heart is bursting," a fan chimed in.

Lauren Chan poses backstage at the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Runway Show During Miami Swim Week at W South Beach on June 01, 2024 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
Chan was one of 13 models who walked the runway show for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit at Miami Swim Week 2024 on June 1. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)

Last April, Chan penned an article for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit about coming out as a lesbian, going through a divorce and finding herself. The Brantford, Ont. native explained her sexuality wasn't obvious while growing up, and she only "earned my queerness" by getting to know herself.

"Because I identified as straight until recently, most people I've privately come out to have been surprised at this change in my sexuality," she wrote. "First and foremost: Me. Believe it or not, I was shocked that I — a 30-something, married to a man, professional purveyor of self-acceptance — am coming out late.

"Why did I decide to come out with 'SI Swimsuit'? I spent my career representing women who look like me — and I’m ready for a chapter in which I get to celebrate us for who we are on the inside, too. ... The moral of the story is that creating your most fulfilling life starts with getting to know your truest self."

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