Photo courtesy of Sporti

Sporti and Tyler Wallach Artist Series Collaboration


Recognized worldwide for his bright and boldly-colored street art characters, artist Tyler Wallach is making another splash with his art, diving into the world of swimming with his latest collab - the Sporti x Tyler Wallach Collection.

The collection is the debut partnership of Sporti’s recently announced Artist Series, a collection of limited-edition collaborations aimed to spark conversation around diversity, inclusion, and mental health awareness.

The Sporti x Tyler Wallach Collection, featuring a selection of swimwear and accessories for ‘LGBTQ+ swimmers and allies alike,’ transforms Tyler’s colorful creations into material works of art, resulting in a collection fit for the entire swim community.

man and woman standing next to each other in bold and colorful swimsuits by sporti.

Sporti x Tyler Wallach Collection

Photo courtesy of Sporti

Touting his ‘individuality as his biggest asset,’ Tyler is the self-described “1988 love child of Keith Haring and Lisa Frank.” His whimsical, vibrant characters are brilliant nods to the exuberance of gay pride and evocative of one’s freedom to express themselves, in and beyond the lane.

“My art is about love, light, and positivity,” Tyler says. “It’s magical, colorful, rainbow drippy fun.

Fittingly so, the Sporti x Tyler Wallach Collection is unapologetically bold. Designed with watercolor in mind, the collection’s designs evoke that moment when the light catches the water, fragmented into a kaleidoscope that encapsulates all the colors of the rainbow.

"I'm so thrilled about this collaboration with Sporti and all that it stands for! While so many brands just throw a rainbow on something, we really took the true design into consideration to illustrate our message of inclusion & diversity, and created something loud, bright, and exciting!” said Tyler.

man and woman in swimsuits jumping in the air.

The Sporti x Tyler Wallach Collection

Photo courtesy of Sporti

As a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, Tyler’s compassion and care for at-risk queer youth and anti-bullying efforts remain a driving force of inspiration, and he hopes that this collection inspires those who see it to be their most authentic self.

“Before coming out at the age of 18, I struggled with anti-gay attitudes from friends. It sent me into a tailspin and I wanted to cover up my true identity,” said Tyler. “Today, there is no better feeling than using my art to stand up for social and civil justice in our thriving, intelligent, and colorful LGBTQ+ community.”

The Sporti x Tyler Wallach Collection is proud to support and donate a portion of proceeds to the It Gets Better Project, a nonprofit organization with a mission to uplift, empower, and connect LGBTQ+ youth around the globe.

“Happiness is a choice,” Tyler says. “I look at my art, and I’m reminded to take a deep breath and realize that everything is on track. We have to believe in a world where hope outshines fear.”

The Sporti x Tyler Wallach Collection ranges from $12.95 - $39.95 and is available in competitive swim sizing 22Y - 40 (accommodating approximately sizes Youth 6/7 to Adult XL), sold exclusively at www.swimoutlet.com.

About Sporti by SwimOutlet

Sporti, SwimOutlet’s top performance, private-label swimwear line, offers athlete-approved products in innovative designs, refined for an active lifestyle. Every Sporti product delivers exceptional, performance-driven collections for life’s greatest adventures. Water is Sporti’s playground - a place to embrace and champion diversity while elevating stories from every lane of the pool.

Founded in 2000 and with over 25 million suits sold to date, SwimOutlet.com is the premier online destination for all-things swim and is the largest online specialty store for swimming, active recreation, triathlon, beach, and watersport merchandise in North America.

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Mjolnir

Like many of the recent Marvel Cinematic Universe films, LGBTQ+ fans awaited the release of Thor: Love and Thunder in open anticipation of the inclusivity that both Marvel and Disney had promised. However, the fans were only setting themselves up for disappointment when the film was finally released.

Despite passionate assurances from studio heads to key actors, Thor: Love and Thunder was NOT spectacularly gay. It wasn’t even that good…

Premiere Night Promises

A bolt of lightning cuts across a rainbow on a dark and stormy night.

Lightning bold across the sky

Photo by Bill D.

Standing on the red carpet at the London Premiere of the film, director and actor Taika Waititi and fellow cast members Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson were offered up the inevitable question: “How gay is the film?

Amidst some laughter from the crowds, Waititi gestured towards Portman to respond. The actress (who plays Thor’s love interest, Jane Foster, throughout the franchise) raised the microphone to her lips and thought for a moment, before delivering a quiet yet fateful: “So gay!

Barely a moment had passed before the gathered fans went wild and Taika Waititi gave his own verdict: “Super gay!”. Tessa Thompson made no statement on the ‘gayness’ of the film, instead opting to swing her microphone around suggestively. As more cheers erupted, a second round of “super gay” slipped out of Waititi’s mouth, before he urged the fans to enjoy the film.

Thor: Love and Thunder’s LGBTQ+ Potential

Thor’s movie-goers were definitely hyped up for a gay extravaganza and they had a specific character in mind. The fan-favorite Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson, stumbled her way into the MCU during Thor’s third film, Ragnarok. The Asgardian warrior won many people over with her wit, sarcasm, and pure badassery.

After the events of Avengers: Endgame *spoilers*, Thor Odinson gives up his claim to the throne of Asgard and names Valkyrie as king in his stead. This left many fans excited to see what would become of the character, especially after certain revelations were made at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con:

“As a new king, she has to find her queen. So that’ll be her first order of business.”

With these words, Tessa Thompson threw her LGBTQ+ fans into a frenzy, with heavy expectations for the then-upcoming fourth installment of the Thor films. Indeed, in an interview with the LA Times, shortly before the film's release, Tessa Thompson was asked to comment on the sexuality of her character. She responded with several promising remarks, including “there’s a lot of folks that are righteously very hungry for that representation to exist in these movies, as am I”.

*Warning: spoilers ahead!*

So, How Gay Was Thor 4?

To put it simply: not gay at all. Not only did Valkyrie end up without a fabulous new queen, her non-heteronormative sexuality only got the barest mention (a brief line about a previous, now dead, girlfriend). Valkyrie may have made bedroom eyes at some pretty ladies before an action scene spoils the moment, but that’s about as much as we get.

The film does get some credit for introducing a trans character in a minor yet significant role. Thor returns to his people (after a brief stint as a Guardian of the Galaxy) only to find out that the daughter of one of his closest (and deceased) friends is now a boy. The issue is, whether due to personal prejudice or some alien inability to grasp the concept of being transgender, it does take Thor a frustrating few moments to come to terms with the change. And to stop deadnaming.

In fact, the only concession to the queer community was Taika Waititi’s extraterrestrial character Korg finding a husband in one of the closing scenes. This heartfelt moment was somewhat underscored by the revelation that Korg’s entire species is male, meaning he had no other choice but to be ‘gay’.

This Is Not Marvel’s First Queerbaiting Attempt

Close up of an eye reflecting an unknown scene as a rainbow crosses the image.

Photo by Harry Q.

This is, by far, not the first time that LGBTQ+ fans have been sorely disappointed by the workings of Marvel and Disney. In fact, people across many social media platforms have been chiding expectant viewers for once again falling for classic queerbaiting tactics. “Being queerbaited by the MCU is like being a golden retriever with a human who always pretends to throw the ball”, one Tumblr user declared.

Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson, was the perfect moment for the MCU to introduce its first lesbian lead. Larson’s character seemed to have an intense relationship with another woman, going so far as to help raise her child (before Larson’s Carol Danvers disappeared from Earth for 6 years). Despite leaning into several romantic tropes, the status of their relationship was never fully fleshed out. However, it was also the franchise’s first female-led superhero movie, so maybe they thought that introducing her as a lesbian would make the film too awesome.

The heavily anticipated Avengers: Endgame was also slated to introduce the MCU’s ‘first gay character'. While many fans were excited, particularly as this would be the second of Larson’s appearances on screen, the big gay build-up was a massive letdown. The film’s director Joe Russo made a cameo as a blip survivor mourning the loss of his husband. A five-second throw-away scene that had no impact on the outcome of the film. Big whoop...

Even when we did see a film with a gay lead, The Eternals, there were also ten other straight leads. At that point, it just seemed more like basic probability than an attempt at pushing LGBT+ superheroes into the spotlight.

Why Can’t Disney Let Marvel Be Gay?

The big problem with allowing a few characters to be anything other than cishet is that there are still many countries in the world that outlaw homosexuality. As much as we like to think that the MCU is being made for comic book fans, we all know the purpose of the films is to make money for Disney. And without certain markets in Asia and the Middle East, Disney wouldn’t be raking in up to (and over) one billion dollars per theatrical release.

Is There Any Hope For LGBTQ+ Fans In The MCU’s Future?

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the second in the much-loved Black Panther arc, will be released in cinemas this November. The studio has confirmed that the film will contain a queer character. Actress Michaela Coel will play Aneka, a warrior, and trainer of the king’s guard. Whether or not her diversity will stand out in the film (let alone endure for more than a 10-second scene that can be easily cut) remains to be seen.


Next year’s The Marvels film, starring Brie Larson, Iman Vellani, and Lashana Lynch may offer the MCU a chance to redeem itself in the eyes of its LGBT+ fans. The studios may feel it’s finally time to offer us the heartwarming lesbian relationship between Larson’s Carol Danvers and Lynch’s Maria Rambeau that seemed to be teased in the first Captain Marvel. Don’t raise your hopes too high, though, as you may yet end up as a stubborn golden retriever waiting for a cinematic universe to finally throw that rainbow ball.