Pride Month: Collin

Today’s piece is written by my great friend Collin — a man of many talents. A horseback riding, Soul Cycle enthusiast, and Twitter aficionado, if you will. They say a picture is worth a thousand words so, to better describe Collin, here he is: 

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Collin was actually the first person I ever asked to help me write an LGBTQ-related piece back in college. His willingness to support my projects, and also be honest and vulnerable in the process, has been something I really appreciate and admire. 

As cliche as it may sound, Collin is just unapologetically himself and it’s invigorating to be around. He makes the people around him feel comfortable without even consciously trying. As you will read though, not everyone Collin encounters even takes the time to realize they feel similarly.

I really loved this piece, because at its core it’s just honest. The idea of “Pride” really does encompass a lot of happy memories for people, but to truly appreciate the positives, we must also acknowledge the setbacks. 

Collin’s words will give you the perfect insight into what this means: 

My good ole friend Krump asked me to write a blog post about pride and what it means to me. I thought it would be easy! I’m gay. I have pride. Give me 20 minutes and a glass of wine and I’ll be done, but I was wrong.

I have to be honest, I don’t know much about blogs. In fact, I think of them as solely a place where people go to write about topics of expertise or to offer advice. You make a mean fudge brownie that’s under 4 calories? Blog it. You were able to overcome a terrible break up with a neighbor’s dog? Blog it. However, when it came down to writing this blog post, instead of feeling like an expert with advice to give, I became overwhelmed with a strange feeling of guilt. Who was I to write a blog post about pride?

Pride is often synonymous with being proud, but to me, that’s not always the case. In fact, there are many times I wish I could be more proud of who I am. For example, I felt like shit recently when I hailed a cab in NYC after a date, and the driver sped off when he saw me kiss my date goodbye. In high school, I cried in the bathroom after I was denied the opportunity to donate blood, all because I had slept with a man. I still get nervous holding hands with another man in public because I fear shame and rejection. When I think about these little things that make me not so proud, I realize there is still so much work to be done – both personally and in society.

But then again, there is also so much to celebrate. For starters, I didn’t even have a super dramatic coming out story. I was 16 years old, tying my shoes before school one day when my mom approached me and said, “Coll, your dad and I know you’re gay and it’s not a big deal. We will always love you.” Also, I can get married to whoever I want (PSA boys, DM me @collin_russ). Pride is compiled of little moments like those because when it comes down to it, I’m pretty #blessed. I have a supportive family, amazing friends, good health, and a career that leaves me feeling fulfilled. This month isn’t just about celebrating the LGBT community and the strides we’ve made, it’s about celebrating yourself and who you are. Being a living, feeling human is fucking hard sometimes, and Pride Month is a great reminder to reflect on all there is to celebrate. Be proud, have pride.

Needless to say, you can check out Collin on Instagram: @collin_russ
And Twitter: @collin_russ

Feminism

I just would quickly like to put this out into the world as a reminder for anyone who happens to read this. The definition of feminism is below: 

fem·i·nism /’feməˌnizəm/ noun: the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.

I literally cannot understand why so many people are sharing and supporting that girl’s “article” on The Odyssey where she discusses that she’s a woman but she’s “over feminism”. 

To start, I can never understand why anyone shares anything written on The Odyssey as if it’s a well-written, reliable source. They are all opinion pieces by college kids that, more often than not, are also very poorly written!!!

Also, it just is very hard for me to fathom why any educated, upper-middle class woman (aka the majority of my female Facebook friends) could possibly say they do not support feminism. I mean, it is hard for me to fathom why ANYONE regardless of gender, race, socioeconomic status, etc is against the idea of feminism, but that’s a whole other can of worms. 

It just doesn’t make sense to me, personally, why another female would be against the idea that women and men should be treated equally.

Feminism doesn’t mean that women are better than men. Feminists don’t want women to have more respect/power/advantages/etc than men. Feminism is just about equality

Ideally, in a world where everyone was feminist, we would all just be given the options to do whatever we please without fear of discrimination, inequality, lack of safety, etc. 

In the girl’s “article” on The Odyssey she explains that she doesn’t support ideas like televising women’s sports, women paying for the check on dates, etc. But my big rebuttal to her is that no one says you need to support those things! That’s not what feminism is. Feminism is just giving everyone the opportunity to be able to support/practice those ideas if/when they want to without judgement. 

So hey, if you don’t want to be the first girl in the NFL, or the breadwinner of your household, or a working woman in general, etc etc etc, you don’t have to be!! But some women want those things, and those women should be allowed all of the opportunities they ever dream of having, with just as equal of an opportunity to have them as men! 

The reason women are so “okay” now in 2016 is because many, many bad-ass women fought their asses off for the rights that you and I have today. That is why I fight to support equal rights. Because yes, many of us are “okay”, but we didn’t get here by being quiet. Just because we’ve gained some rights, doesn’t mean I will now stay complacent. There is so much work left to be done.

Also uhhhhhhh just a little side note, many of the people who believe we have it “so good” already are people (at least from what i’ve noticed) that are currently living and/or were raised in fairly well-off, fairly open-minded areas. You have no idea the struggles other people (women, minorities, etc) around this country face every second of every day. If you don’t want to fight for your own rights maybe at least consider fighting for theirs! 

My point is, I’m not trying to preach. I understand that we all have different opinions/political views/values/etc. But in terms of feminism, it just seems like many people have been missing the real meaning of the term (and the movement in general). You don’t have to believe everything I do. In fact, most people don’t. But I just hope more people learn to take the time to educate themselves on topics being widely discussed before they chime in with their own opinions. 

~I gottttta stop posting about politics and go back to posting blogs where I wallow in self pity~

An Aggressively Long Novel i.e. My Feelings on the Election!!!!

So I purposely attempted to wait a little while before
writing anything about my feelings on the election. Partially because I still
am not entirely sure how I feel, and partially because I wanted to let it sink
in a bit.

I’ll start by saying this post is going to be very different
than the post I started to write last Tuesday after voting. HAVVVVVING SAID
THAT, originally I was VERY bitter that I was so happy and hopeful on Tuesday, and then so heartbroken on Wednesday, but I don’t feel that way
anymore.

I am still so
thankful that I took the day off last week to vote. It was the first election I
have voted in and I am really proud that I spent the time trying to really understand
who/what I was voting for. I am also proud that I took the day off to travel
back to Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania, as I’m sure you know, is historically a
swing state, so I feel like my trek back was worth the effort, even if the rest
of the state didn’t end up voting the way that I did.

On an unrelated note, Tuesday was also nice just because I
was home. I spent the afternoon sitting and writing at the Starbucks in the
center of town that I used to hang out at every weekend throughout my teens. It
was kind of a funny coming-of-age feeling to be there as a “mature” voting
adult, after spending so much time there as a little naïve kid. I also spent
the evening looking at houses with my mom, and eating dinner at a restaurant
she used to go to all of the time when we still lived in Doylestown. It made me
really miss home and it made me extremely excited that my mom is considering
moving back there in a couple of months. Doylestown just has such a place in my
heart (in case you couldn’t tell!!!).

It’s also just very weird but very (for lack of a better word) cool
to look back on how much I’ve changed since I was still living (full time aka
pre-college) in Doylestown. I feel like I’ve really grown into myself over the
past year or so and I’m really proud of that!

ANYWAYS onto the political part. Obviously I was not too
pleased about the election results (to put it lightly), but I am trying to be
open-minded. To start, I voted for Hillary mostly due to social reasons. I
believe that (at least for me) political views can change and fluctuate anywhere
along the liberal/conservative spectrum over time. I think that currently, as
24 year old female living in New York City, social reasons play the biggest
part in my political opinions. Maybe 10, 20, or 30 years from now that will be
different. Who’s to say that sometime in the future I won’t be more interested
in voting for economic reasons? I don’t know! But right now, as I’m sure you
have already guessed, I identify as a very liberal person. I am very passionate
about equal rights for women, LGBTQ+, POC, immigrants, etc. That is why I voted
for Hillary. As I said in my Instagram post, I wanted a strong FEMALE role
model for kids to look up to. I wanted the future little girls of America to
never doubt that they can be just as good as the boys. I wanted LGBTQ+ youth
(and adults) to feel safe in their communities. I wanted POC to feel like they
had an equal shot at whatever they strive for. I wanted there to be more advocacy to decrease the stigma surrounding mental health. I wanted immigrants to never
have to fear their potential deportation.

Obviously these dreams are a bit unrealistic. I never
genuinely assumed that, if Hillary became president, our entire country would just adopt
accepting views and automatically become filled with endless love and open-mindedness.
But my point was, that Hillary would have been an amazing step in the right
direction, just as Obama was (is). You can argue forever over whether or not Obama was a good president. Regardless, I believe that an African American in the White House was a huge, important step forward for America. Basically what I’m trying to say is, I didn’t vote for Hillary because I was
voting against Trump or something, I voted for Hillary because I support what she stands for, and because she gives me hope for the future.

**I also will be honest, I’ve watched one too many
documentaries recently about the Women’s Liberation Movement, and the 13th
Amendment, the Criminal Justice System, and Gay Rights and I’ve basically spent
the past month or so panicking even more than ever about how far we’ve come
socially, but how much further we still have to go. LOL vague statement I know…
maybe I’ll get into all of that in another post. Once I start ranting about
that stuff though, it will spiral endlessly out of control until I just start
talking about how, even if we fix every problem in the world, we will still
probably die of a natural disaster. ~See some of my prior Twitter tirades as an
example~ YEAH SO LETS NOT GO THERE. Not a pretty sight!! Not a rational
conversation!!**

So liiiiiiiike Trump is the next president. Sick!!! I spent
most of last Tuesday night watching the poll results and panicking, until I finally
fell asleep around 1am, had not one, not two, but THREE nightmares that Trump
won the election, and then woke up to the realization that he actually really
did win. My first reaction was to cry. I was frustrated, angry, and
embarrassed. Embarrassed by how I thought the majority of the country agreed
with the way I was voting. Angry that a woman still wasn’t going to be
president. And frustrated that an idea I thought was a joke a year ago just
became reality.

My next reaction was to fight back. At first I thought that,
because Trump was elected, this must mean the majority of the country didn’t
care about the social issues that I cared about. I couldn’t understand how
anyone would vote for him knowing his morals and past actions. I immediately wrote
a lengthy Instagram post about my feelings. By this time, Hillary was giving
her concession speech. Obviously I wept as I watched, I’m sure most people who
support her did. Her speech was filled with so much love and hope and passion
that it broke my heart. Then I took a break, and tried to consider other
people’s viewpoints. I tried to think logically about why and how Trump could
have won the election after I was so convinced Hillary was going to blow him out
of the water.

I came to the conclusion that this election result is not entirely
bad! I’m sure plenty of people have probably made these same points, but here
is my reasoning:

  1. Setbacks
    just teach us to fight harder.
    The fact that I basically assumed Hillary
    would win without question just means that I was a little naïve with regards to how progressive
    our country currently is (or isn’t). Trump’s win is the shock that should show us (aka
    anyone who is passionate about fighting for human rights) that the fight is
    nowhere near over. With this setback, we can find the passion and drive to
    fight for the equality everyone deserves, now more so than ever.
  2. This one
    is a stretch…
    but Trump used to be a Democrat, and I’ve read some
    articles (although I can’t guarantee they’re even remotely reliable… heh) about how his actions
    during this election could MAYBE have been purposely exaggerated to grab the
    attention/win the votes of the middle of America that tends to be more strongly
    conservative. I can’t say how much I believe this point, but hey, I’m including in anyway. Optimism AMIRITE!!! Don’t read my content if you’re looking for totally factual information because I’m tellin’ ya now, I ain’t supplyin’ that!! But my point in this is…… maybe he’ll chill the EFF out a little when he gets into
    office. It doesn’t seem like that yet, but cross your fingers, ok.
  3. On a more serious note, we as a
    nation are strong enough to fight back.
    Look at the statistics. 55% of our
    country is in favor of gay marriage, 56% of us are in favor of abortions
    being/staying legal, 58% of the nation supports universal health care, 64% of
    the country believes in global warming, and 59% of believe that immigration is
    more helpful than hurtful. SOOO if Trump wants to make massive changes that
    negatively impact these wildly supported concepts, we have the numbers in our
    favor. We have to use this to our advantage.
  4. This has
    opened my eyes to how the internet (kind of) blinded me from the truth.
    The
    majority of people I follow and websites I visit are verrry liberal. I
    purposely follow a lot of powerful women and LGBTQ+/POC online because I like
    seeing their strong, powerful, hopeful messages and I love promoting their
    content. It was so easy for me to assume that because 90% of the media I’m
    consuming is liberal, that 90% of the country must be just as liberal too. That
    is soooo far from the truth. This has reminded me that there is a whole
    plethora of viewpoints out there that I should be more aware of. We have to
    step outside our bubbles to really see the full story sometimes.
  5. Not
    everyone who voted for Trump hates gays or women or people of color.
    A lot
    of people I know who voted for Trump did so for economic reasons. A lot of very
    intelligent people I might add. I can’t and shouldn’t judge these people,
    because in my opinion, like I said before, we all have different motives behind
    our votes. I’m not saying I approve of Trump or am willing to overlook his
    negativities. I am saying that not everyone voted for him because they want to
    deport immigrants, or criminalize abortions, or overturn the legalization of
    gay marriage. I know it’s easy to immediately judge someone who disagrees with
    your opinions, but I’m trying really hard to be open minded and understanding.
    And I’m trying to remind myself that this country is still filled with many
    more good people than bad.
  6. Change
    can still happen on a smaller scale too.
    Even if Hillary had won, there
    would still be plenty of racist, sexist, homophobic/transphobic, etc etc, over-all judgmental
    people in this country. We can help to change the views of these people on a
    smaller scale. We can support local organizations and safe-spaces right now! We
    can donate our time and money to the places that we believe in. I currently am
    working on finding ways to support Planned Parenthood and the Trevor Project! You can find tons of awesome places/organizations like that too! 
  7.  We can
    use our voices!! Right now!!
    I love communities like YouTube for example,
    that have become a space for people of all walks of life to share their
    experiences. I follow so many amazing people on YouTube and I watch week after
    week as these people are influencing hundreds of thousands of viewers worldwide
    with their stories. I purposely follow a lot of young gay/lesbian/trans people
    because I love seeing how they’re teaching so many others to be comfortable in
    their skin. I also follow a lot of people who openly talk about their struggles
    with physical disabilities and mental illnesses. I follow comedians, activists,
    and a lot of kewl passionate young kids who are trying to do awesome things.
    Although I am not creating content like these people, I openly support them
    with my subscriptions, likes, and comments. I also try to share content that I
    find specifically influential with a wider audience on my social media platforms.  I think it’s really important to show your support for these people!! It’s fucking terrifying to share your true and honest self
    with the world. These people receive a lot of negative feedback for their
    content. It’s important to express to them that you support what they’re doing! It
    really really helps, I’m telling you! This applies to anything, not just
    YouTube. From a post on social media, to a protest on the street, if you agree
    with it, let them know! And if you want to share your beliefs and experiences
    too, do it! Even if people disagree, I’m telling you that people will support you
    and I’m telling you it’s worth it. Fight for the change/equality/acceptance that
    you believe in. You will feel proud and empowered, I promise.

Soooooooooo THAT’S MY SPIEL!! DID YOU LIKE IT? DID YOU HATE
IT? IDC EITHER WAY HA!! On a sort of funny note, I’ve already lost 8 followers on
Instagram this week based on my past three liberally-swayed posts lol. I really
thought that would be something that upset me, but it honestly makes me feel
proud. I am proud that I spoke my mind and shared what I believe in. If people
disagree so much that they don’t want to continue to follow me that is fine by
me! 

I have plenty of friends with differing opinions and we can still mutually respect
each other. I think that’s how it should be! There will always be Republicans
and there will always be Democrats. For everything you support, there is going
to be at least one person that is going to oppose it. That is just the way life
is! 

But hopefully some parts of this post made at least a little bit of sense!!?! I’m still working through my feelings and opinions honestly. So who knows,
maybe a couple months from now my outlook on all of this will have changed
again. But for now, this long rant is how I feel. Hopefully Trump doesn’t fuck
shit up and we all live happily ever after!!!!!!!!!!!!! ‘Murica, amirite? 

**Disclaimer, this was 4 pages long, SRY. HOPEFULLY IT’S SORT OF GRAMATICALLY CORRECT I WROTE IT AT WORK SO SRY OK BYE**

 But seriously, let me know your thoughts/opinions too? If you want?

Something I’ve Had on My Mind

Recently, I had a friend say to me (more or less), “lesbians are gross, like I think vaginas are just gross… I just don’t get it, how can you like that?” L.o.l.

In said friend’s defense, I really don’t think it was intended to be judgmental or discriminatory. What she was trying to express was that she simply cannot wrap her brain around a girl wanting to be sexual with another girl, given the fact that she has personally never felt that way before.

But although it came from an innocent place, that still doesn’t make it okay. I get irrationally defensive and angry about comments like this because I feel so differently about it. I know we’re all entitled to our own opinions……I GET IT OK, FREEDOM OF SPEECH, YADDA YADDA, I KNOW. But I think that when your opinion is negatively targeting someone who identifies as part of a minority group, your opinion is offensive regardless of your initial intentions. Minorities are already historically oppressed, so by spreading more disapproval, you’re just furthering the oppression.

Also on a less serious but still important note, why do you care anyway?????? Is some girl trying to force you to eat her out and THAT’S why you’re so offended by the concept??? Because in that case, you’re going to have to have a nice lil’ chat with that girl about boundaries and consent. Otherwise, from what I can gather, I don’t think lesbians are affecting you in any way? So can’t you just let them live their lives happily and in love just like you want to do? For example uh, I don’t necessarily care for the idea of an orgy but likeeee personal preference, man. Let the people love how they want to love. PLUS, wouldn’t you, as a straight girl, be offended if someone said “I just like, don’t get straight girls…like I think the way they have sex is just gross”??

I don’t know. I guess I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by so many people in New York with such open-minded opinions that I don’t often hear comments like that anymore, so it really shocks me when I do.

Love is love and I sincerely cannot wrap my brain around why that concept is so hard to grasp. Our world is so dominated by this straight, cis-gendered culture and it doesn’t make any sense because its 2016 and we know there is so much diversity so why are we still fighting it!!!!!

FOR EXAMPLE (I’m going to get personal so bear with me), my dad is gay. Or bi…or whatever label to you want give it. My dad hooks up with dudes sometimes. He was also married to my mom for decades so I guess if we’re going to label it, let’s go with bi. Anyways, moving on. This is so massively important BECAUSE in so many ways he was/is so, so ashamed of it. And in so many ways it basically ate him alive and now he will suffer years and years in jail (sort of) as a result.

I only found out my dad was bi a couple years ago when he was already mid-downward spiral. That breaks my heart. Obviously it is something that has been difficult for me to admit, but in all honesty, that difficulty only stemmed from the fact that he hid it. And the fact that he ALWAYS taught me to accept any and all sexual preferences, but he couldn’t even fully accept his own. In a way, his shame turned into my shame, and for lack of a better explanation, it just confused the shit out of me.

I know that “times were different” a couple decades ago. I’m sure he struggled a great deal and I can’t be mad about the fact that it was extremely difficult for him to accept himself. ALONG WITH THAT, I know that it is still very hard for soooo many people to come to terms with their sexualities today…. BUT THIS IS MY WHOLE POINT.

WE, AS A COUNTRY, ARE THE REASON THAT THIS IS STILL SO DIFFICULT. By spreading negativity we’re basically preaching that you should be ashamed of your differences. 

Do I think my dad would not be in jail if our community was overall more accepting? Not necessarily. He has plenty of other issues going on that factor in to that situation…….BUT I do think I would have had a much deeper and more honest relationship with him if he had been less afraid to love who he wanted to love.

To hide part of who you are out of fear is a horrible, horrible way to live. Why are we STILL actively letting people suffer this way? Why do we STILL care about sexuality (and gender) SO MUCH.

I know I say all of this as if change should be easy. And I know, in a way, I might sound like I’m minimizing the situation. But in reality, it really should be that easy. I know it never will be. The world will always be filled with as many opinions as there are people. And I know my opinion may not change a single person’s mind, but I still think it needs to be said.

I still think people should be reminded that it really can be that simple to change your outlook. It can be that simple to accept that everyone is different. You may not agree with their actions, but you can live a life full of compassion regardless.

There are so, so, so many worse things happening in the world to worry about. Quit wastin’ so much negative energy on this topic and fix world hunger or something IDK, GOD.