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Change Makers: design activism and creative entrepreneurship with Gyor Moore

Driven by passion and purpose, Gyor has created a career for himself that allows him to flex his creative endeavors for the better good.

This week we’re highlighting Gyor Moore, a The Social Hub Ambassador who you may recognise from his many appearances on our feed. But, Gyor is busy with way more than just us these days — juggling his work as a creative entrepreneur for brands like Netflix and the Dutch National Police, he helps organisations become more diverse and inclusive with their brand and messaging. On top of that, Gyor also works as a design activist through his fashion brand SOBKOLT, and queer music video streaming platform, Pride Radio. 

While today Gyor has created a name and business that now precedes him, we were actually introduced quite serendipitously. 

"So years ago, I met this guy online, while we were both traveling through Asia, bonding over the fact that we were traveling, but also the fact that we were both gay and in the closet." Gyor told us. "Fast forward ten years, he had actually moved to Rotterdam, and we reconnected. He was working at The Social Hub and he was explaining the concept to me, telling me about a new art installation, and I was just very intrigued by this concept for students and travellers and co-workers."

And in what Gyor says is a theme in his life, he believes he just happened to be at the right place at the right time. "My friend had introduced me to more people at The Social Hub, and soon after they asked me to be an ambassador. It was just a great fit," Gyor admitted. "I think we have a lot in common with our aspirations to be bigger and better and expand internationally.”  

But if you ask us, Gyor isn’t just lucky, but a man who makes his own luck. Always driven and open to new opportunities, Gyor isn’t afraid to try something new or make mistakes, instead turning his passions and curiosities into both successful and impactful businesses.  

Did you always know that you wanted to find a way to intersect your identity as a black and queer person with your work? 

"It’s definitely something that evolved. I was working for another company, and I was very much trying to conform to them. And it wasn’t until five years ago when I quit that job — because I felt like I didn’t fit in — that I thought maybe this industry isn’t for me.  But, of course, that wasn’t the case.

And so when I quit, I basically just posted online that I was going to go freelance and work with companies that support queerness and anti-racism, because I just felt like the companies I worked with did not make that a priority, or even talk about them, or have any opinion at all about those matters. And then companies started reaching out saying, ‘Oh, we’re trying to do more with that,’ or ‘We’re learning more about that,’ it became part of my personal branding. So I guess it was also a journey for me to find out that there was even this market that I could make a career out of." 

Talk to us more about your work as a design activist as well. What does that mean? 

 "So a design activist is something I got from a book called ‘The Design Activist Handbook,’ and basically the author talks about how design is way more impactful than most people think. Everything around us has to be designed — and we as designers have the power to decide what’s beautiful in the magazines, or what’s hip and cool. We decide if everyone should shave their heads because it’s sexy. Essentially, we have a lot of power, but we should use that for good.  

 And then in his manifesto, it says something about promising to use your design to activate people — to make social impact or make the world more beautiful. That just resonated with me so much because that’s what I was trying to do. But I thought, ‘Oh, I have to do that for free or nonprofit things, and that will be my side hustle while I work for the devil.’ But the author explained that no, you can ask for money for this. And it gave me a real sense of where I wanted to go."

So what’s the biggest driver for doing what you do? 

 "The first is that if I win, a lot of people win. A lot of people have come up to me and told me, ‘I started my own company because of you,’ and that is just surreal. That’s not what I initially did this for, but that is now the thing that keeps me going.   

I really want to do more with giving back. So, I’m also working on a course for young creatives who want to start their own businesses. I really feel like I'm on a path of creating some sort of generational wealth for Queer or BIPOC people. And I really feel like that is my place. Because I feel like I unlocked the system. Like I am sitting at the table where I always wanted to be. And now that I’m there I’m like, ‘This table is boring, let’s go make a new table.’  

I also want to show people this is a lucrative business. I feel like when you're a creative growing up, you don't necessarily think that would make you ‘rich.’ People tell you it’s a hobby and can’t really turn it into a job. But there’s something that drives me to be successful and I want to show other people that they can be successful creatives, too."

It’s Pride in Amsterdam this month. A lot of people view it as a celebration, but we also know that it's rooted in protest and resistance. What does pride mean to you?  

 "For me, it’s definitely both. The first time I went to Pride I had goosebumps all over my entire body because I just saw gay people being happy on the streets. It was so weird and amazing to me, and I still have that feeling every time I go. It’s special to see what heterosexual people must see all the time. It’s like for one day you are the norm — and it’s weird when you’re not the norm to see yourself as that. 

At the same time, I think of countries where this could never happen. We still have a long way to go. So there are definitely two sides to it. You know, some of my friends will never go to Pride because they feel super uncomfortable going because they don’t feel included or because they’re depressed or because it’s just too painful. I see it as a time for inspiration, but also for healing and talking and making these things accessible."

What issues do you think require more visibility in the queer community? 

 "Something that I’m trying to do more of is talk about the mental health aspect of it all. So, I am really open about seeing a therapist for years. One of the things I’ve learned is that being in the closet is just one of the biggest mind fucks that you can have, and it has so many traumatic effects. And I’d love for people to be open to getting help processing that."

Two of your businesses, Pride Radio and SOBKOLT, grew out of pride and your activism. How have they evolved since?

"Well with Pride Radio, I initially set that up for just a month, during Pride in 2020 to give something back during the pandemic. But since, it’s really grown a lot without my input, so totally just from the support of the community. We’ve even got sponsorships now — we did an event for Rotterdam Pride, and we even did an event where I could actually pay the artists. And that’s really exciting."

 That’s a huge accomplishment.  

 "You know, I don't know how to say it, but when other people tell me, ‘What a success.’ or ‘You look so successful,’ of course I say ‘thank you.’ But at the same time, I also know that literally the first day we launched, everything went wrong — even the website was down because the server was overloaded.   

With Pride Radio there were so many mistakes. I never had a radio show in my life. I don’t even know that much about music. I just know how to make things that connect to our community. But I just knew I wanted to do it, and we just started, because it’s not about being perfect but the impact that it makes."

Well, it’s so interesting hearing you speak about your work, because it seems like in everything you do you’re so open to this evolutionary process. Even with your fashion brand SOBKOLT.  

 "Yes! So long story short, I wrote a poem about my coming out that was called, ‘You Are Perfect As You Are.’ So I posted about it and people said that I should put it on a shirt. So I did, and wore it, and people wanted to buy the shirt.  Around the same time there was a trans refugee who came to the Netherlands for asylum, and it was pretty much headline queer news. So I said, let’s donate the money to her and the person that’s helping her with asylum support. And from there it just got picked up and reposted and was in the news. 

 Looking back, I was kind of unprepared. I didn’t even know where I could make these in bulk and I had never sent a package in my life. I thought I’d just do this for a month. But then people kept asking for the t-shirts, so we made a couple more and a necklace, and it really just turned into a brand.

So what’s the biggest thing you want someone to take away from this interview?   

"People put me on this pedestal sometimes, and I’m honoured, but that’s just not how I feel. I get students all the time who say, ‘You’re really good at designing’ or, ‘You have the network.’ But I also had to start somewhere. It seems like this really big hill that you have to climb, but you just need to take the little steps to get there. If I could inspire just one person to start a side project that they’ve really wanted to do for years, that would be amazing."

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