© Nikki Toole // American Pride : The Kids Are Alright


Nikki Toole

The Story behind the Portrait

In 2018, while in New York City during Pride month I was excited to capture the diversity and positivity of a part of society that is often misunderstood and vilified in the present administration under Trump. There is an evident rise in violent acts against this community, both physically and verbally which has shown no signs of decline in 2020.

This image is about the resilience and strength of a community in adversity, living in a political climate that no longer publicly supports it. In 2015, the Obama administration fully supported Pride Month with the proclamation that “all people deserve to live with dignity and respect, free from fear and violence, and protected against discrimination, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation”.

Yet by 2018, Trump failed to acknowledge Pride Month for the second year running with the words ‘transgender’ and ‘diversity to be omitted from all future White House documents. Chad Griffin, president of national LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign said, “Trump and Pence are obsessed with erasing us. But we will not be erased”.

In 2019, Pride celebrated 50 years of staggering achievements by the LGBTQ community since the riots at Stonewall Inn on June 28th 1969. Running around in the sweltering heatwave of NYC Pride, talking to and photographing young Americans the joy was infectious. They talked of keeping up the fight for change and of celebrating Pride in a safe space and with a sense of unity. There were proud supportive parents, shy teenagers attending Pride alone for the very first time and groups of friends who embraced everyone with acceptance and love. “If only every day could be Pride’, said one, “I think this would be one of the happiest places on earth”.

Happy Pride was called out on every corner of every street in downtown New York. One of the hottest days of the summer didn’t deter the heaving crowds lined up to see the parade, as every wonderful representation of the LGBTQ community filtered past celebrating something monumental that was so hard fought for 50 years ago – a day celebrating the anniversary of Stonewall but also the start of a journey and a new enemy today.

It’s hard to explain the pure joy and welcoming atmosphere of Pride in New York. A city often known for its hard-edged persona was a warm fuzzy rainbow blanket of comfort for those who needed it. As I moved around the city, stopping only to catch up with friends and replenish my fluids, it was almost 40 degrees after all, beauty after beauty paused to stand still for me, while crowds swirled around them. I shot 3 images and moved along. These young women chilling out on a stoop on St Marks Place were full of the joy and strength that gives me hope for the future. A short chat and 3 images later I was happy. Coming from a film background I have learned to shoot fast and be sure of what I want. Thankfully it has served me well. The confidence, nervousness and excitement of being able to truly relax and be themselves shone out of these kids… and I loved them for it.








I was excited to capture the diversity and positivity of a part of society that is often misunderstood and vilified in the present administration under Trump.


Nikki Toole is a Paris based photographer. Originally from Scotland, she has lectured in London, Edinburgh, Melbourne and the USA on the subject of photography and cultural identities. Her work is held in private and gallery collections worldwide. She has exhibited widely in Europe, the UK and Australia where her work has been selected 5 times for the National Photographic Portrait Prize, and she was a guest judge in 2015.

In 2015, her Skater series had a solo show at the National Portrait Gallery (Canberra) and toured Australia. The Skater series was published by German publisher Kehrer Verlag in the same year.

In the midst of a year-long trip COVID hit while she was in Italy. On one of the last flights out to Paris, she made it with 3 days to spare before lockdown and the city of great bread is now her home.

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