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“We could make a profit quickly, but it’s not the goal”: the story of Pride Icons, the largest LGBTQ+ NFT community in the world, endorsed by Luke Evans

Viktoriia Pushkina

Journalist

24.06.2022 at 05:47

In case you did not know, June is Pride Month, i.e., the month when the LGBTQIA+ community celebrates the freedom and pride of who they are. And those who are not a part of the community also can join this celebration and support it. Because this freedom still is not accessible to everyone in every corner of the world.

Pride Month is a perfect time to present LGBTQIA+ projects. This June, the Pride Icons project was introduced — the largest LGBTQ+ NFT community in the world.

In his interview for BuidlB, co-founder and Lead Developer of Pride Icons Amir Lazarovich explains:

  • why Pride Icons is primarily a beneficial project for the community but still can be attractive as an investment for straight people;
  • how blockchain and NFTs help LGBTQIA+;
  • and why Pride Icons sales were not opened on 1st June as planned.

NFTs not only can be valuable objects but can also provide some benefits

We started the Pride Icons project about six months ago. But before I tell you about it, I would like to say a few words about myself.

I have been an engineer for about 20 years. I worked in different companies: from small startups you have never heard about to big corporations like Google. I started being interested in blockchain in 2011 and found my passion in it.

Amir Lazarovich, co-founder and Lead Developer of Pride Icons
Amir Lazarovich, co-founder and Lead Developer of Pride Icons

As for NFTs, they remind me of my childhood in Israel. It was trendy to collect cards; when I was a kid, I spent a lot of money buying them. So it really hit me when I was first introduced to NFTs. And now, I am excited to work on NFT projects, especially Pride Icons.

NFTs, such as cards, can be not just valuable objects on their own but also provide some benefits. Like keys to club memberships. You know, like when you are going to Starbucks, and you are getting your loyalty points and stars, and you can use them within Starbucks. And that’s what we implemented in Pride Icons.

But the benefits we provide to our investors are accessible not only within our community. We cooperate with many LGBTQIA+ organizations and can, for example, give a 30% discount for trans surgery — you know, it is costly and not affordable for everyone. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We are planning to add so many things, and we constantly get feedback from the LGBTQIA+ community to understand better what they need.

Pride Icons offer three options of membership
Pride Icons offer three options of membership

The most important thing for us is to build a community

Pride Icons is a non-commercial project, and we are willing to make an impact through it. However, our audience is not just LGBTQIA+ people. Pride Icons NFTs are very beautiful and can be a suitable investment. We partnered with fantastic artist Max Bahman, who created colorful, pop-up pictures.

Pictures from the Pride Icons collection
Pictures from the Pride Icons collection

So people who are not from the LGBTQIA+ community can buy Pride Icons NFTs and share some benefits with those who need them. We are also expanding our audience by accepting payments in cryptocurrency and regular credit cards.

We implemented this feature in collaboration with Paper. And this is also part of our approach to the audience. Because LGBTQIA+ people are not necessarily crypto native. Blockchain is not yet mainstream — not everyone knows how to open their own crypto wallet. And Paper does it for you, meaning you can easily get your NFT but not get into the technicalities.

But the most important thing for us is to build a community. We have already had a few parties, and now we are thinking about developing our cryptocurrency. Also, one of the benefits that investors get is the ability to influence what happens to the project next. To vote on how they want it to be.

So, how did this all start?

I was looking for opportunities to work with blockchain and LGBTQIA+ projects. So when I met one of my acquaintances, he said he has a friend who is really into the community and well-connected with movie stars like Luke Evans; I couldn’t miss this opportunity. Because, as you know, marketing is crucial for NFTs. Without it, even if you have the best project in the world, you are not going to be able to succeed. 

The current avatar of Luke Evans on Instagram is part of the Pride Icons NFT collection / Source: Instagram
The current avatar of Luke Evans on Instagram is part of the Pride Icons NFT collection / Source: Instagram

So we started discussing everything, and we hit it off quickly. It was in December 2021, and for that moment, there was literally no other LGBTQIA+ project in the NFT space.

Now we see people with similar ideas, but mostly LGBTQIA+ NFT Collectibles are beautiful pictures without vision. But we are ready to unite and collaborate with other projects. I mean, it is not a battle, and we are not competitors. We have the same goal, after all — to help the community.

We do not open sales because we want to be inclusive

I am a strong advocate for blockchain technology as a whole. So I have enough conviction to believe that crypto is not going anywhere. It is just going to be more and more grave in different operations.

And I see it benefiting the LGBTQIA+ community from so many different aspects. For example, if they are in countries where they can not create a bank account for any reason. Or if they want to enter a global market — to present themselves as artists and get payments in crypto.

I mean, it is not just about LGBTQIA+ but the entire world. Blockchain will improve a lot of processes around the world, and it will positively affect the community.

This current market crash is a temporary situation. Blockchain will come back even stronger and more popular than it was.

Although we did not launch Pride Icons on June 1 as planned, in time for Pride Month, we did not do so because they would not have been in demand. They would have been. And we have proof of that — we launched a short auction, and it was successful.

But the bottom line is that we have to target our audience, and we are trying to be mindful of what’s happening in the world. There are not many people with a lot of money within the LGBTQIA+ community. And those who usually have a lot of money are white male gay couples. And we do not want to sell only to specific segments within the LGBTQIA+ community. So instead of now opening the sales basically for privileged people, we want to wait a little bit so that the community as a whole can participate. We could make a profit quickly, but profit is not the goal.

When will the market recover? I have no idea. There are some signs, but signs usually lie. Today we went up, and probably tomorrow, you will see a big crash again.

But I see now that people are panicking; they do not know whether to buy assets or to sell them. Their decisions are chaotic and very fast. And I think once we see people calm down and make informed decisions, that would mean the market is recovering.

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