Changing the world is a lofty goal, but for Camille Ora-Nicole, change is a necessity. The California-based designer, producer and artist has their eye set on building a queer media empire that empowers creatives to thrive in a way that’s almost unheard of today.
The vehicle for this change? The Queer 26, a media non-profit organization Ora-Nicole has been nurturing for almost 10 years. The organization caters to queer creatives, focusing specifically on the needs of its BIPOC members, offering workshops, networking opportunities and in-house projects.
As they work to realize the brand’s third project, Passion of X, Ora-Nicole says that she hopes to increase the number of projects they offer so they can hire more queer and trans BIPOC creatives.
“I want The Queer 26 to change how we work. A lot of the ways in which creatives are expected to work and go about their careers [is problematic] and it’s not necessary,” Ora-Nicole tells Tagg. They reference the unchecked pressure in creative industries, where employees are often expected to work long hours and sacrifice their mental health to work jobs they love. “It’s not a healthy ecosystem at all. It doesn’t need to be this way,” they say.
Ora-Nicole understands this firsthand. While attending California State Polytechnic University at Pomona, she studied architecture and graphic design, two fields known for overwhelming workloads. “I’m building The Queer 26 for myself too. If it works for someone else it will work for me,” she explains.
All that building doesn’t happen in a silo and Ora-Nicole is quick to mention the community that helped build The Queer 26. In undergrad, they found their people at the campus Pride Center. “That Pride Center changed my life,” they say. Through the center, Ora-Nicole met friends who helped them create the first iteration of The Queer 26 and others who’ve supported and contributed to the non-profit over the years. “I don’t think you should have to go to college to get that. Everyone should be able to find a team of people to learn and work with as they grow,” Ora-Nicole shares.
The Queer 26 aims to provide the same visibility and support she found at the Pride Center to those outside of the ivory tower. Ora-Nicole explains that for QTBIPOC individuals, spaces built to center their needs provide a sense of acceptance and belonging not found elsewhere. “When you go into a space where you don’t see yourself, you might think it’s fine because everyone’s nice. But then you go to a space where it’s all queer and BIPOC and it feels like you can breathe again,” Ora-Nicole says.
The stress of hiding any part of one’s identity is one that Ora-Nicole is ready to remove—both for herself and others. “We can find a better way,” she says.
This story is made possible with support from Comcast Corporation.