Pride Month: The End

I want to start this post with a video. This month, content creator and YouTube star, Tyler Oakley,  released a pride-related video series called Chosen Family: Stories of Queer Resilience. I highly suggest watching the entire series, because each piece is unique and powerful, but there was one video that really resonated with me.

I was lucky enough to spend not one but two days during NYC’s Pride Weekend at Stonewall. After watching this video, something just clicked for me.

This month has meant so much to me and I have so many amazing people to shower in endless thank you’s for that. Emily, Tierney, Nick, Jocelyn, Josh, Kevin, Nick, Collin, Alex, Carrie, LJ, Chrissy, and Bia – without you, this month would not have been possible. To say all of your words have been inspiring is an understatement beyond belief. You guys have become more than just a piece on my blog, you have genuinely influenced me to be more myself than ever before.

Spending Pride Weekend at Stonewall made me realize how grateful I am for this month, this blog experience, and all of the people that took the time to read these words every day.

We really have come such a long way since the Stonewall Riots in 1969. Although we still have a lot left to fight for, I just wanted to take a minute to appreciate where we are now.

As cliche as it is, growing up, I would have never been able to find a blog filled with a month’s worth of LGBTQ+ related stories and experiences. On a personal note, even a few years ago I wouldn’t have had the balls to want to create LGBTQ+ content like this either. We/I have come so far and for that, I am so proud.

In all seriousness though, this blog has been so empowering/therapeutic for me these past couple months, but it has grown to become something so much more than that. I am so beyond appreciative for every single person who has been willing to open themselves up for the sake of helping others. I am so thankful for everyone who has read these words, reached out to these writers, and shared this content. Without all of you, my little passion project would be meaningless.

I want to end with a reminder – each of you reading this have stories and words worth sharing. Your feelings and valid and your experiences are meaningful. Content like this needs to be shared. Content like this is raw and real and relatable. Content like this really, truly helps people.

Thank you so much for making my second month of collaborative content one I will never forget.

New content coming soon!

x

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Pride Month: Me

I wrote this post a couple of months ago for a friend’s zine (check out Jvmp The Gun and Orenda Lou…it was their zine). These were feelings and emotions I have wanted to share for a long time, but as I began to write, I realized it was more difficult than I thought to find the right words for the ideas I wanted to convey.

It’s weird to say that though. You would think it would be simple to write a piece about yourself. Who knows you better than you, ya know? But when it comes down to it, it’s more difficult than it sounds to sum yourself up in a combination of words. 

After I wrote this, I literally panicked about actually sharing it. Not so much for fear of judgment, but for fear that I didn’t fit the way I defined myself enough. I think at the root of it, that’s always been my biggest concern. I’ve never felt like I actually fit in any one box. I never felt extremely feminine or extremely masculine or extremely straight or extremely gay. But then to say I’m somewhere in the middle scared me too. What if I wasn’t in the middle enough? What if people see me differently than I see myself? 

I think that’s a big part of why I wanted to do this collaborative project though. Because at the end of the day, it shouldn’t matter what box you fit into or where you fall along the spectrum. If you identify a certain way, others should respect and accept that. You are exactly who you feel like you are, and no one should tell you otherwise. There is an infinite amount of people in this world that identify an infinite amount of different ways. No one way is more right or more wrong than another. 

With that said, here is my piece:

Dear Younger Self,

Right now, you see the world as black and white, this or that, good or bad. In all honesty, the simplicity is beautiful, but within that beauty, you will also realize great flaws. You will grow to learn that life is so much more than just one or the other.

I can’t blame you that right now you dream of fitting in. Kids are harsh, man. I feel your pain. You spend countless nights picturing what it would be like if the kids at school stopped picking on you. You literally have dreams of what it would feel like if the boys had crushes on you. Nothing seems to matter more than feeling like you’re accepted. I get that, you’re not wrong. I mean damn, right now you can’t stop begging your mom to buy a minivan and join the neighborhood social circle of stay-at-home moms. You’re just clinging to any “normal” ideals that you can think of, and it’s okay. I know you think that you would do anything to look like that girl in the denim miniskirt that you see in the hallway every morning because she always has the boyfriends. You are dying to be more feminine, more generic, more binary.

Just to calm your nerves, I’ll tell you now: You make those friends, you buy those clothes, and you attract a lot of those boys. But I’ll let you in on a little secret, too: You lose yourself in the process.

I can’t wait until you’re older and someone calls you “fluid” for the first time. I can’t put into words how understood you’ll feel.

If I could give you any bit of advice, I’d actually tell you not to do anything differently. You need those experiences, those friends, those fights, the kisses, the late nights, the drunk memories, the tears, the beautiful joy, and the gut-wrenching pain. You need it all to get to where you are now.

You need to feel as generic and accepted as possible to realize it’s not what you want or who you are. Don’t beat yourself up when you’re 21, 22, 23 years old and still figuring everything out. You are doing it all exactly right.

When you learn what fluidity is you’ll feel afraid to let your guard down. You’re going to spend a lot of time denying that you could possibly identify with such a term. At first, you’re going to still wish you were hyper-feminine. Once you let that idea go, you’ll beat yourself up for not fitting the term enough. You’ll still feel misunderstood, even by a word that is so all-encompassing.

Let me remind you now, so you can remind yourself a hundred times over as you grow: It is all just a spectrum. You are part of the spectrum and you will find so much pride in that.

I know you feel confused. How could you have spent two decades trying to perfect yourself only to realize everything you grew into is the opposite of who you are? You will search for so many answers within strangers because you will feel too lost to even ask your friends.

But hey, stupid, guess what? Your friends know you better than you think they do, and they accept you wholeheartedly. I know you’re just scared, but how could you ever doubt that? They will call you fluid before you even say it yourself.

There is so much beauty in the in-betweens. There is so much relief in all the grey.

You may not always feel true to it, but you are fluid in every sense of the word. The more you embrace it, the more confidence will bloom inside of you.

Life will ebb and flow. You will feel just as masculine as feminine some days. You will realize that love knows no gender. Sometimes you will feel so painfully low that you won’t leave the house, and so flawlessly high that the world seems technicolor.

Wear that fluidity like a badge of honor. Let yourself dance along the spectrum. Feel and love and experience all of the changes. Allow yourself to be a new version of who you are every day. Let it drive you, inspire you, and teach you. Experiment. Let go of the fear. Connect with yourself. Realize that your differences radiate like beautiful bouquets from within you.

I know you won’t always feel unapologetically confident. No one does. You will still hide behind a lot of facades. Just don’t let yourself feel like you’re taking steps forward just to take those same steps back. You are progressing, even when it’s not linear. Cut yourself a break and embrace the grey of it all.

Pride Month: Pidgeon Pagonis

Today is all about being intersex! Personally, intersex is an identity on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum that I still don’t know a whole lot about.

I remember being introduced to the topic as a young kid,  but with the term “hermaphrodite”. It was always, without fail, used negatively and condescendingly. I vividly remember this huge rumor about the singer Ciara being a “hermaphrodite” and how that made her so weird and different???

Needless to say, I, like many, was very uneducated when it came to the term intersex and what that actually entailed. Until I was introduced to Pidgeon.

I first saw Pidgeon in a Buzzfeed interview in 2015. The video did an amazing job at explaining what it truly meant to be intersex and the experiences/struggles that come along with that. Before I move forward, you can watch that video here:

As you can see, not all intersex people are alike. Each person has their own unique experiences and identity.

I then saw Pidgeon again, a few months ago, in a second Buzzfeed video. In this video, Pidgeon interviews different strangers on the streets of Manhattan to see what they know about being intersex. Check it out:

To no surprise, most people didn’t know very much!! I can’t blame them, I didn’t know very much until recently either.

Although, like Pidgeon says in this video, not all intersex people identify as LGBTQ+, I still really felt the need to include it in this Pride Month blog. Like many other identites, it still has a massive stigma attached – a stigma that is mostly perpetuated by a lack of knowledge and information. So, although I am not the most well informed person on what it means to be intersex, I felt it important to share regardless.

Pigeon also has their own Youtube channel! Here are a few videos where they explain, in more detail, what their experience with being intersex has been like. I highly suggest watching. They’re informative and interesting (and Pidgeon is clearly just cool AF).

Being able to put a face and a name to a concept you know little about, in my opinion, also really helps new knowledge resonate with you. I am in awe of Pidgeon’s willingness to be vulnerable, honest, and unapologetically open for the greater good of others. Content like this is so so important, and I’m extremely happy there are people like Pigeon out there willing to create it.

Pride Month: Grant Kwiecinski (aka GRiZ)

My best friend from out of town is in Manhattan visiting me right now, so my post today is going to be short and sweet. Although it is short, I still feel that it is just as powerful and inspiring as all of my posts thus far.

griz1

Today’s post is written by Grant Kwiecinski, better known as GRiZ. He’s an American DJ and electronic producer from Michigan.

When my friend (ironically, the same friend visiting me today) sent me this post the other day, it immediately resonated with me, and I just knew I had to share it.

GRiZ writes about many of the experiences we all can relate to during our formative years. But along with that, he shares his journey of coming to terms with his sexuality, and his search for clues, support, and understanding along the way.

I would post his words here, but you should read the original post and give him some love. Check it out on HuffPost: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/my-name-is-griz-and_us_5935d865e4b0c670a3ce6797

Pride Month: Rain Dove (ft. Kate Bornstein & María José)

I’ve spent the past couple hours trying to find the right words to describe Rain Dove, and I still am at a loss, but honestly I think that’s exactly why I wanted to write about them.

Check this video out before I go any further:

Rain is everything I love about the idea of a gender spectrum. I know there are definitely (many) people in the world that have a difficult time understanding Rain’s gender identity, but that’s exactly why Rain is great. There are so many more people out there like Rain than most of us realize, and I think by exposing us to the very real idea that gender is not binary but rather a spectrum, more people will be willing to identify somewhere along the spectrum as well.

Here is Rain talking about how they consider themselves a “Gender Capitalist” and what that means:

Needless to say, Rain is powerful, beautiful, extremely talented, and confidently themselves. Just to note, I find it important to use they/them pronouns when talking about Rain. In a recent interview I read, Rain says, “I’m not transgender because gender doesn’t exist in my book.” Because of this, I don’t think it’s fair for me to assume Rain goes by she/her (or he/him for that matter). Plus, in case you couldn’t tell, Rain is killin’ it as an agender model and deserves recognition as such.

I wanted to end this post with a video of not only Rain Dove, but Kate Bornstein, and María José as well. Three flawless and very influential people that identify three different ways within the gender spectrum.

For those of you less familiar with identities outside of the gender binary, this video (as well as the two above) may have been a bit confusing/eye-opening/interesting/perplexing to you. I understand that. There are so many terms for so many identities that take time to truly grasp and recognize. But my point with this video is that these identities are just as real and just as valid as the cis-gendered male and cis-gendered female identities are. Sometimes it just takes getting to know people along the spectrum to really comprehend it.

Like Rain says in the last video, “my state of being is just unique”. Now that is true beauty.

Pride Month: Ryan O’Connell

Today is all about the writer, Ryan O’Connell. First and foremost, you can find some of his work on Vice and ThoughtCatalog. He also released a “part-memoir, part-manifesto” in 2015 titled I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves.

Now that I just gave him some serious promo, I realize that I haven’t even touched on why he is today’s Pride Month ~inspiring person~. (Side note: I really need to think of a better tag line for these featured peeps that has a better ring to it…..hopefully more progress on that later).

I was first introduced to Ryan O’Connell when I watched his StyleLikeU interview from 2015. To put it lightly, I was immediately obsessed. Before I go on ranting and raving about why I appreciate Ryan, just please watch his interview. I promise you will be captivated too:

Needless to say, he’s fucking hilarious. On top of that, I love the way he talks about the stereotypes surrounding gay men, and the struggles associated with being both gay and disabled. Ryan just has this ability to articulate his experiences in a way that connects with everyone who watches. I personally cannot directly relate to many of the things he discusses, yet somehow I still find myself nodding along and laughing to every word as if I have been in his shoes.

I think what makes him most inspiring, is the way he vocalizes the paradox within all of us. We’re all living in this limbo of simultaneous insecurity and confidence, right? Ryan puts words to those contradictory feelings in a way that I have never been able to.

Next up are three more videos. They touch on his coming out story, an experience at a gay bar, and some advice for 20-somethings. I know I keep saying it, but you just have to let these videos speak for themselves. My words wont do them justice. Ryan is the kind of person that, when he tells a story, you never want it to end. You’re just whole-heartedly invested from start to finish.

When I considered this project for Pride Month, Ryan was one of the first people I knew that I wanted to feature. I think that, by just being himself, he teaches so many people about love, acceptance, and confidence. In my opinion, we can all learn a little something from him, while being thoroughly entertained in the process.

Pride Month: iO Tillett Wright

Like I said before, throughout Pride Month I am going to be sharing some awesome content written by some very talented people. But along with that, I’m going to introduce you all to some very powerful people that inspire me by just being themselves. Hopefully some of you already know some of these people, but if not, you will now!! This month is just going to be filled with a bunch of peeps that inspire me. Without further ado, here’s the first of many……

iO Tillett Wright – American author, artist, and activist. I’ve been following iO on social media for quite a while now, and I have learned quite a bit about their journey with gender. iO currently identifies as he/him, but didn’t always.

The video below is iO’s Ted Talk speech in 2012. I find this speech to be especially powerful because it discusses the idea of the boxes we put each other in, the ways we bond, and the environments we grow up in that impact our views on the world. Although you may not be able to directly identify with iO’s experiences with gender, you can, without a doubt, still identify with so many aspects of this Ted Talk. My summary clearly cannot do it justice, so I highlllllly suggest watching the whole talk. If nothing else, it will leave you questioning ideas you’ve probably never questioned before.

Along with that, iO’s Ted Talk touches on the Self Evident Truths project (link to the website here). A big reason why I wanted iO to be my first Pride Month post is because of this project. The basic idea behind it is that there is an infinite amount of people in the world that identify as “not 100% straight”. All of these people are just as equal, just as beautiful, and just as valid as any “100% straight” person is. iO puts it best in the Ted Talk by saying, “Visibility really is key. Familiarity really is the gateway drug to empathy. Once an issue pops up in your own back yard, or amongst your own family, you’re far more likely to explore sympathy for it or a new perspective on it.”

Check out the most recent Self Evident Truths “We Are You Campaign” video below. It is beyond powerful. To call this campaign inspiring is putting it lightly.

Along with this, iO is a published author. His memoir, Darling Days, can be best summarized here:

“Born into the beautiful bedlam of downtown New York in the eighties, iO Tillett Wright came of age at the intersection of punk, poverty, heroin, and art. This was a world of self-invented characters, glamorous superstars, and strung-out sufferers, ground zero of drag and performance art. Still, no personality was more vibrant and formidable than iO’s mother’s. Rhonna, a showgirl and young widow, was a mercurial, erratic glamazon. She was iO’s fiercest defender and only authority in a world with few boundaries and even fewer indicators of normal life. At the center of Darling Days is the remarkable relationship between a fiery kid and a domineering ma—a bond defined by freedom and control, excess and sacrifice; by heartbreaking deprivation, agonizing rupture, and, ultimately, forgiveness.”

Here is iO speaking about writing Darling Days:

Check out Darling Days on Amazon and check out more of iO’s work on his website.

Andddd if I haven’t promoted iO enough, you should also follow his Instagram!! Trust me, I follow it and it is v cool (he posts a lot of great instastories, ok).

Like I said, I’m not sure how well my summary of iO’s work, life, and current projects can really do iO justice. For the most part, you just have to let these videos speak for themselves. iO can teach and influence just by being, and for that, it is no surprise that he is the first of many inspirational people I wanted to share for Pride Month.

A Cool Announcement (Not Clickbait This Time ha)

Okay so I apologize for mentioning yesterday that I had cool news and then not really acknowledging it at all ….heh. I just really felt like I needed to make that “thank you” a priority because I just CAN NOT get over how amazing Mental Health Awareness Month was and it was seriously all because of you guys. Just as an FYI side note, I’m obviously going to continue to write about all of those things (and I’m going to continue sharing other people’s ideas on the topic too). 

But my big exciting news is: I’m doing a similar collaborative project for this month for Pride Month! 

As I’ve tried to express in the past, my main goal with this blog is to show that we are all just human. We have things about ourselves that make each of us unique, but when it really comes down to it, we all share far more similarities than differences.

I’ve always been taught to have a very liberal and accepting view of the LGBT community (as I believe everyone should). I spent a lot of time assuming that, because of this, I was simply a very open-minded ally to the community. But as I have grown and learned about myself and others, I have come to realize that the world isn’t just black and white like that. People aren’t just straight or gay, or female or male. Sexuality and gender is all a spectrum. There is an infinite amount of people that fall somewhere along the spectrum, and there is an infinite amount of reasons why all of those people deserve equal love, appreciation, and acceptance. 

So for this month, I wanted to do what I can to celebrate everyone that identifies somewhere along that spectrum! 

I’m going to be honest, I don’t know everything there is to know about this, and because of that, I was a little intimidated to approach this project. But the more I thought about it, the more I noticed that literally no one knows everything there is to know. That’s part of the beauty in it. No matter what you identify as, we’re all just figuring it out as we go. 

I’m going to be sharing words and videos by advocates that I find inspiring, as well as content from friends about their personal experiences and beliefs. 

Hopefully this month teaches us all something. Whether it is about ourselves, or someone else, we all have room to learn and grow and love harder. 

If you’re interested in sharing your ideas this month as well, feel free to reach out to me! 

Happy Pride Month & more to come soon!!

A Massive Thank You & Some Cool News

First and foremost, I need to start by saying thank you. Thank you all so much for making Mental Health Awareness Month something more meaningful than I ever thought possible. 

To the 16 people that were so amazingly open and vulnerable and honest with their stories, I don’t have words to explain how much I appreciate your help. Sammy, McVeety, Kaley, Caroline, Jschwa, Christine, Alyssa, Corinne, Gina, Lydia, Maggie, Hope, Kelsey, and the handful of you that preferred to remain anonymous, you are the reasons these posts were even possible and you deserve so much recognition and gratitude for that. 

I know I’ve said it before, but opening yourself up to this unknown abyss that is the internet is scary AF in and of itself. To make it even scarier, throw in a topic as stigmatized as mental health…how much more intimidating can it get!! It took a lot of strength and bravery for each of these stories to come together, but I hope you all can agree with me when I say that I think the reward from all of this strongly outweighs the original fears we may have had.

To all of you that have read these posts, reached out to either myself or these writers, shared your own stories, and supported any one of us throughout this month, THANK YOU, TOO. These words are filled with so much significance because of the audience that has been consuming them.

It has filled my heart over and over again this month to hear all of your messages, texts, and stories based on the pieces you have read. And I know I am not alone in this. I know so many of these writers have also said they have received amazingly positive responses too.  

It just goes to show you, that we really are all in this together. There are always people out there that can relate, understand, and sympathize. And there will always be people willing to listen if you’re willing to share. 

I really really hope that over time we continue to share our stories even more often and more freely. If there is any one last lesson I can leave you all with, its that none of us are experts in this, we’re all just figuring it out as we go. But that doesn’t mean we can’t share what we’re going through. All of your feelings, experiences, and struggles are valid. Whether its a good day, or a bad day, it’s your day and you should never be ashamed of that. 

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ALSO I have an exciting announcement about an upcoming idea I’m working on…………….but I realized this post is long so I will explain it in a new post. (HINT HINT: it’s for Pride Month)

MHAM Post #3: One of Many Who Inspire Me – Kelsey Darragh

After a weekend spent feeling unusually low, I wanted to get the ball rolling this week with a little inspiration from someone I have admired for quite some time now.

Kelsey Darragh, if you don’t know her, now you know. Female comedian, internet content creator, and Buzzfeed producer who, for some time now, has been generating some pretty dope and hilarious videos, and a lot of seriously relatable shit too.

The video above isn’t the only one floating around Buzzfeed’s many Youtube pages that features her discussing her mental health, but it’s definitely one of my personal favorites.

I know I say it all the time, but progress isn’t always linear, you guys!! Not with anything in life, but especially not with mental health. Don’t get discouraged if you feel like you’re running in place. Don’t give up if it seems like you’re taking three steps forward just to take four steps back. Change will come. There are people, medications, therapies, resources, out there that will help you. It make take time to find the right combination that works perfectly for you, but don’t stop now.

If you want to check out more of Kelsey Darragh’s stuff you can find her here:


Twitter: @kelseydarragh
Instagram: @kelseydarraghcomedy

And tomorrowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww…..keep an eye out for the first of
many pieces about mental health written by a friend of mine !!!

KEWL HUH? YOU GET TO HEAR FROM SOMEONE OTHER THAN ME FOR A
CHANGE.

K HAPPY MONDAY n shit xo