One thousand people rsvp’d for a party at Splash bar in Manhattan last week. JCK Art Director Todd Gast and I were two of them. After a photo shoot uptown, we jumped in a cab and headed downtown to the event, arriving just in time to hear the guest of honor, Reichen Lehmkuhl (best known for winning season four of the Amazing Race reality show), speak. The gay former Air Force captain, a champion of gay rights in the military, talked about supporting our troops and introduced the crowd to his new Fly Naked with Reichen jewelry line by Love and Pride, which benefits the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.
A titanium pendant from Fly Naked with Reichen
features the line’s signature propeller
As he spoke, I thought back to 2005, when we profiled Love and Pride designer Udi Behr for Luxury magazine. At the time, he passionately told us about his vision for a line of jewelry for the gay market. He had shopped the idea around to the industry’s largest manufacturers, who all turned it down for both short-sighted and, frankly, bigoted reasons. It made Udi both angry and determined. We saw the power of what he wanted to do and included him in our annual designer issue. Back then, quite a few people saw the issue and asked me: “Who’s he?” (In the years since, as manufacturer after manufacturer begins to realize the potential of this market and introduces lines of jewelry to target it, I can’t help but wonder how many of them scoffed at Udi three years ago).
Reichen, right, with Todd and I at the launch of his Fly Naked with Reichen
jewelry line by Love and Pride.
While Love and Pride has been growing steadily for a few years, to attend that party last week, amid the overwhelming crowd of people, was to witness the true realization of Udi’s dream. And I was filled my own sort of love and pride. I am so proud of Udi for making his vision a reality, and love being part of an industry that has such power to raise awareness and support—for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network or any cause—with the powerful meaning and symbolism of its product.