Pride Month: Bia

Today’s post is about a very talented friend of mine, Bia Jurema.

In case you missed it, earlier this week LA-based artist, Somme‘s debut music video made the front page of NYLON. Why is this cool? Well for starters, Bia was the cinematographer and editor on the project. What makes this doubly important (read powerful, significant, relevant AF) though, is that Bia was part of an all queer and female-driven crew. With the help of the team including Lindsey Byrnes, Sam Atkins, and Sam Byrnes-Mandelbaum, this project came to life (and made headlines in the process).

NYLON describes the video as “not your typical LGBTQ love story”, but to be quite honest, I don’t even think that does the video justice. It is so much more than that. The first time I watched it I literally had chills. To say Bia’s work is professional is an understatement – it’s captivating. Her artistry, coupled with Somme’s talent and the efforts of the skilled team make this piece, without a doubt, one worth watching. Check it out below:

Even before this video was released, I knew I wanted Bia to be a part of my blog this month. Bia and I grew up in the same hometown. With our constantly overlapping social circles and her beyond-outgoing personality, it’s no surprise that we were friends as teenagers. Having said that though, I think the coolest (how many times will I use the word “cool” in this post?) part about knowing Bia is seeing the person she has grown into these past few years. Although we literally live on opposite sides of the country, and talk rarely, it is hard not to notice the person Bia has become. From the bad-ass, brilliant people she surrounds herself with, to the influential projects she is a part of, it seems like Bia is doing it all. Not to mention the fact that uh, she’s gay and owning it.

As I told her, there is a reason why I saved Bia’s post for last. For starters, this video an amazing example of LGBTQ-driven content (and why we need so much more of it!!!!). But also, I knew Bia would have some meaningful words to share that I think will help to bring these posts this month full circle.

Without further ado, check out Bia’s interview about her life, her work, and some advice she has for anyone reading:

1. First of all, tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you?
Sure! My name is Bia Jurema – I was born in Brazil, South America where I spent the early part of my childhood. I moved to America when I was eight years old. I now reside in Los Angeles, California working as a filmmaker/photographer – I direct, shoot, and edit narrative, documentary, commercial, and branded videos.

2. I think I know you well enough to answer this question, but for those of you who don’t, what made you interested in film and photography? Why is that the career path you chose to pursue?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been terrified of having a “normal” job. In my opinion, art is the greatest vessel for us to demonstrate our potential as conscious, emotional, flawed beings. That consciousness inside of each of us is a very precious thing to me – I’m weary of wasting it. So, film/photo always felt like the best way of, quite literally, capturing that.

3. Speaking of, can you tell me a little about the video attached?
Certainly! My friend Somme is an incredible artist. One night we were cruising in the car and she played me her single off of her new EP – I immediately vibed to it. She asked if I wanted to shoot and edit her music video and I jumped at the opportunity.

As two gay women, we knew we wanted it to be queer. Her cousin, Lindsey Byrnes, is an incredible, accomplished photographer who wanted to direct the music video. She also happened to know a professional ballet dancer, Sam Akins, who would make for a perfect cameo. Suddenly we had ourselves a queer ensemble and got right to work.

You can read a little more about Lindsey’s intentions as the director in this cool write-up NYLON did for the premiere.

4. What does working on a project made by all queer people mean to you?
It means so much to me. I grew up knowing like two gay people, so my coming out process was definitely slow and awkward. I had little to no examples of what it meant to be gay and thriving. This was
pre-Netflix era, so there wasn’t much queer television representation either. Fast forward to 2017: I’m fully out, living in Los Angeles, my inner circles are mostly comprised of queer people, and I get to make art with them? To me, this is the definition of a dream come true.

5. Can you tell us a little bit about what it means, in your opinion, to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community?
It’s like when you’re young and start figuring out that your eyesight may not work like everyone else’s. Things are a bit blurry, but you wouldn’t know better since this is how you’re used to seeing the world. But, then your mom takes you to get your first pair of glasses, and she slowly slides them over your face and suddenly the whole world is new. Everything is clear. And then you wonder how you ever got by before this. That’s what it means to me.

6. Do you want to share a little insight into your coming out experience?
Like I mentioned, it was slow and awkward. I was your quintessential tomboy growing up, until I got to the age where I realized, ‘Oh, I’m a girl. I’m not supposed to look and behave like this.’ I feel sad that our world so strictly assigns colors, interests, fashion, and god damn personality traits (!!!!) to a gender. It’s heartbreaking that I felt like I had to “fix” myself to appease a set of standards I did not sign up for.

I finally came to terms with my sexuality a couple of years ago. I fell in love with a girl in college who I’m still dating now – it’s been 3 years. Her name is Kate and she’s pretty great. OK, weird that rhymes. Anyways, I slowly told a couple of people about Kate and I, but our relationship was definitely still a secret. I was interning in New York City a couple summers ago when I called my mom and told her via a drunken phone call. After that hurdle, we sat down and told all of our good friends, who then helped us spread the news organically. Most people we’re pretty much like, “Yeah, we knew” but it was definitely a shock for my mom. She got all of the offensive questions out of her system, but now she’s pretty great about it.

7. On the topic, how would you explain what the word “Pride” means to you?
It means living an unregimented life, free from the heteronormative pressures of society. It means pursuing the virtues of love and happiness. It means fulfillment.

8. If you had one piece of advice for those people still figuring out their sexuality, what would it be?
You’re not late. You’re not early. Figuring out your sexuality is an unorthodox and intimate process, that is unique to each individual. Don’t pressure yourself to fit any labels, but know there is power in their embodiment.

9. There is also a lot of the people who read this blog that do not identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Is there anything you want to say to that demographic of readers?
Thanks for your support! It’s cool to see people existing outside of their echo chambers and looking to the internet to expand their horizons.

9. What are your hopes for the future? (For yourself, for the country/world, etc)
I really need another Rihanna album, STAT.

You can check out more about Bia here:
Instagram: @biuh
Website: biajurema.com

Pride Month: Alex

Recently I’ve been lucky enough to get to know Alex, the writer of this piece. If Alex has taught me anything, it’s to never judge a book by its cover. I know I’ve really been using cliches left and right to describe these writers, but bear with me.

Alex is a sports reporter. If you look through her social media, you’ll see a beautiful, confident AF, powerful chick. Alex is all of those things, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that there is more to a person than the way the present themselves to the world. 

Although we continue to make strides as a country, we still live in a very heteronormative society. That way of thinking is just second nature to most of us. I think it is important to keep in mind that most people don’t actually fit perfectly in this binary world we’re so accustomed to though. 

As you will read, Alex explains her feelings on preconceived notions, labels, and false judgments. This piece is a good reminder that Pride Month is meant to encompass a broad spectrum of experiences, identities, and beliefs. I think most of us can relate to these words in one way or another. Check it out:

In lieu of Pride month: This wannabe Kardashian mirror selfie has inspired me to write about my journey in a male dominated, heteronormative industry. 

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Fear & Feminism go hand-in-hand for me. It’s just like that game “Never Have I Ever.” You know, that silly game you played back in the day, where you lied to convince the world you’re cooler than you actually are. Anyway, never have I ever fit a specific gender mold or stereotype. With that, I’ve struggled with my identity at times – not a good feeling. My social media image has specifically always been a battle. For many reasons, mostly because of my profession, I’ve been cautious of what I post. Often, resorting to not posting anything at all because I didn’t want to get fired or unfairly judged. Now, I’m in-between jobs and I’m scared it will affect getting hired again.  I’ve tormented myself with questions like; “Will this photo make me look too boyish?” Or “Will people think I’m slutty if I post another selfie?” And my favorite, “What if I lose followers with a non-sexy picture, or one about girl politics” (those followers being mostly men who only follow me for the latter).

Why can’t I post all of it without being put into a Jeopardy category? I always post about sports. I post videos of myself being stupid and hitting tackling dummies at the Jets practice facility. I’ve even Instagrammed myself wearing an ugly pantsuit with my mom when we went to vote for Hillary (never forget Hill Dog). So, what I’m saying is simple. I should also be able to post this wannabe Kardashian, bikini mirror selfie if I damn well please! I don’t think it makes me any less of a feminist or strong female figure. 

It’s really exhausting dealing with this sh$t. (I know, whoa is me. You poor, privileged white girl). But I can personally tell you that a lot of people struggle with issues that aren’t obvious to the naked eye. I might look or sound a certain way, but most of you don’t know who I really am…probably a good thing because I’m crazy (joking, but not really). Judgmental men AND women are running around rampant in the sports media world. I’m serious, it’s  more common than girls spending half of their monthly paychecks on SoulCycle when they can’t even afford their rent. I have a message to all of the haters and instigators. To the athletes who assume I “want” them because of my outgoing personality – sorry, but I’m just a girl trying to do her job. I don’t want you. I want an interview with you, I want your story. To former colleagues who’ve spread rumors that I sleep around, and attribute it to my success as a reporter –  your vitriol is more laughable than when some idiot wrote that I wanted “Bukaki” from the entire Jets team on a very public forum (google the word for a chuckle).

You see, sometimes things and people aren’t as they appear, and that’s definitely the case for me. I hate labels more than I hate people who think it’s okay to chomp on their gum, or who leave their bloodstained mattresses in the hallway outside my apartment (seriously people?) I refuse to label myself, but I have you all thinking now, don’t I? The only category I’ll ever put myself  into is one labeled “Bad Ass Chick.” I’m proud of exactly who I am; a twenty-something-year-old who just wants to get through the day, and come home to her Frenchie and glass of chardonnay.

This is where the mirror selfie comes back into play. Don’t judge a chick or a dude by his or her cover. So here’s my kicker…I like boys, and I like girls too. The more the merrier! I’ve dated women over the last six years of my life.  Shocking? It might be for those of you who don’t know me. That’s why it’s so important we stop making preconceived notions about people in a heteronormative society. You might think I’m weird and that’s fine. I’m perfectly perfect being different. 

You can follow Alex on social media: 
Instagram: @alexgiaimo
Twitter: @AlexGiaimo
And her website: alexgiaimo.com

Pride Month: Jocelyn

I’ve thought for a while about how to appropriately introduce this piece and I’m still at a loss for words, but I mean that in the best way. 

Today’s words are written by my good friend, Jocelyn. I’ve been lucky enough to have known her for a few years now, but I feel like it’s safe to say we’ve grown much closer recently. 

When I say I’m at a loss for words, I mean that I was blown away by how vulnerable, genuine, and honest Jocelyn was willing to be in this piece. These words speak volumes about the kind of person she has become, and it makes me so happy to see how she’ll continue to grow in the future.

I think that, regardless of your sexuality, or where you may be in the coming out process, her opinions and experiences will resonate with you. Not to completely overuse the word “pride” but, I just couldn’t be more proud to know Jocelyn after reading this.

Without further ado, here is a look inside the mind and feelings of Joce: 

Pride To Me:

The word pride can have many different meanings and definitions. For example, The word pride is defined in the dictionary as follows:

Definition of Pride:

  1. the quality or state of being proud: such as
    a:  inordinate self-esteem:  conceit
    b:  a reasonable or justifiable self-respect
    c:  delight or elation arising from some act, possession, or relationship parental pride
  2. proud or disdainful behavior or treatment:  disdain
  3. a:  ostentatious display
  4. b:  highest pitch:  prime
  5. a source of pride:  the best in a group or class
  6. a company of lions
  7. a showy or impressive group a pride of dancers

Although my definition of pride may be a little different from others, I wanted to at least try and articulate the meaning in my own words. In light of this month, I’m going to swallow my pride (See what I did there?) and write a little post about what this all means to me:

I’ve always been, in some way, a closed book, and that’s because of a lot of reasons. I’m someone who has tried to steer away from attention and anything that involves the word pride all together. I’ve never been one to call myself a prideful person because I have spent a great deal of my life putting energy into covering up something that plays such a prominent role in who I am as a person. The world is scary, life is hard, and for so long I was not someone who was about to tell my world something so personal about myself…until recently…. and for that, I am proud.

Like many, I am terrified of being vulnerable and did not want anyone to think of me differently, or any less, after I told them about this part of me that was hidden for so long. When society tells you to be a certain way, it is tough to go against it. For so long, I was actually very stubborn and didn’t think it was anyone’s business to know about my personal life, or who I dated, etc. Granted, it isn’t anyone’s business anyway, but when you date someone of the same sex, it seems to suddenly turn into the topic of all conversation. I slowly, but surely, began to realize that this was not necessarily the case, and there is no shame in loving who you love, and being who you are. I can thank my supportive and amazing group of friends for always being there, and having my back throughout these times in my life.

Pride, to me, is not necessarily carrying a flag in a parade or shouting to everyone in the streets. (For the record, I’m not putting the gay pride parade down in any way because I will most likely be there – It’s just not what I want to make this all about.) To me, it’s not about being proud to be gay, or bi, or whatever your heart desires. For me, it is simply being proud of myself for taking those tiny steps to have the courage to come out to myself, and my friends and say, hey I like women as well. I love who I love, and that’s who I am.

I am not all the way out, so I’m proud of myself for even having the courage to write this post publicly. I still have a long way to go, but having the courage to even take those steps is what pride means to me. I was even reluctant to write this post at first, because who would actually care about what I had to say? But there I was again, caring more about what other people thought, rather than just saying – fuck it, who cares what people think.

Maybe this post will resonate with someone else who is in a similar position as I am. If it does, I’m thankful for that and would like to say to you, please don’t be afraid to take the first step….someone cares, someone is in the exact same position as you, and they are waiting to hear from you. You’re not alone.

Pride is to be free of what society labels you and to choose who you want to be every moment of your life. Don’t forget that there is beauty in being self-expressed, but it is also terrifying. So, take your time, and take pride in your love.

Thank you for reading!

Pride Month: Nick

The coolest thing about this collaborative project, for me at least, has been the number of amazing, unique, and inspiring people I have met during the process. Nick is one of those people. 

Nick is a friend of a friend, and honestly, it’s a little shocking that we haven’t met in person yet, seeing as we live in the same city and share multiple mutual friends, but that is beside the point.

When I first reached out to a couple of Nick’s friends about this Pride Month idea, they both, without hesitation, told me how perfect he would be for the project. 

Reaching out to strangers, in hopes that they will bear their hearts for you, is extremely daunting, but Nick has been nothing but supportive and enthusiastic from the start, and I just can’t help but admire him for that. In fact, his initial response to my completely random text was, “Okay so I am so into this and here for it and already know what I want to do.” That. Is. Cool. 

As you will quickly realize, Nick has a multitude of thought-provoking experiences and passion-driven ideas to share. His piece does a great job at highlighting some of the stereotypes that surround gay men, and how those preconceived notions played a part in his coming out journey.  

I hope you all appreciate his words as much as I do. Read it here:

Pride: noun
a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.

nick and matt

My boyfriend Matt and I

Every year in June the LGBTQIA community celebrates what we call “Pride Month” to honor those who have, and continue to, fight for our rights and equality for all. What pride means to me is so much more than a month in a year. As a gay man from the suburbs of Virginia, I have definitely faced my fair share of discrimination and bullying, but at the end of the day, it all made me stronger.

Coming to terms with my sexuality was difficult enough, but the thought of coming out to my friends and family seemed impossible. I honestly never thought that day would come because I was so scared. I thought I would lose my friends, be judged and thrown to the side, and lose any respect that I thought people had for me. I didn’t even know where I would stand in the gay community. I honestly did not feel like I fit in in any community at the time.

nick soccer

Back in my college soccer days

Growing up I played soccer competitively, which I think threw a lot of people off. People did not think that you could be good at a sport like soccer, basketball, or football, and be gay. This made things even harder because guys who had the word “faggot” in their daily vernacular surrounded me.

How was I supposed to say, “Oh, by the way, that is what I am….”? It also annoyed me that everyone had a certain idea of what a gay person was. Someone super flamboyant, who loved shopping and getting their hair done and blah blah blah. Yeah, of course, there are gay guys who are like that, and they are fucking fabulous and amazing, but that just wasn’t who I was or who I am. I hate shopping. I get my hair cut once a month and I dress like a Dad who just dropped his kids off at Lacrosse practice.  

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My parents visiting the historic Stonewall Inn where the gay rights movement began.

I wanted people to know that everyone is different regardless of their sexual orientation and wanted to change people’s views on that.  So that is what I did. My senior year of high school I came out to everyone in my immediate family and high school.  I was sick of lying, sick of pretending to talk about hot girls (even though they were gorgina and I still live for them), and just not being authentic to who I truly was. I remember how I did it as well. We were at our Senior Beach Week, I was shithouse drunk and a Katy Perry song came on. “California Gurls”…  maybe you’ve heard of it. And I remember just being a Queen and dancing on a table and telling everyone. Nobody was really that surprised. Some people were, but most were just like…. makes sense. That actually made me feel a lot better. That even though they had a hint or feeling, they still didn’t treat me differently. I had a good coming out experience; I did it and could not believe how easy it was. That is, until I left for College.

nick family

With my chosen family Caitlyn (left) and Victoria. They were the first people I came out to and are still my very best friends today.

When I went to College, I had a scholarship to play Division 1 Soccer and accepted that. I won’t name the school but I really did not like it. I knew I was in for a rough experience the moment I landed there, and I actually went back in the closet. Kind of like a turtle peeping it’s head out, being scared, and retreating immediately. I made some life long friend there, and they were the only ones who had my back once things got rough. I kept my sexuality a secret to a very unhealthy point. I had my best friend visit me and we bought lube and condoms and pretended to have sex. Thanks for that Caitlyn! I do not know how we did not laugh the entire time, but we made them believe it. The next day her car got towed and she was wearing a “legalize gay” shirt and my friends saw her. I fucking love that girl but what an idiot.

nick rupaul

W/ Violet Chachki (winner of Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 7) and Carmen Carrera (Trans Activist)

So after that, people questioned things and eventually, I told some close friends there. Most were supportive and some weren’t. The ones that weren’t, I do not keep in touch with. I quit the team, only a few guys reached out, and the rest just talked shit about me and made sure I wasn’t invited to any parties, and that I just wasn’t included in things in general.They also, get this, DE-FRIENDED ME ON FACEBOOK. The nerve. What assholes and how dare they. So I transferred schools and my life changed for the best. I thought about what I went through there, how I overcame it, and all of the amazing support I had in my life, and that is when I had my first feeling of Pride. I was proud of what I overcame, I was proud of my family and friends for sticking by me, and I was proud of the community I was a part of.

nick drag

Dressed in DRAG, Halloween 2015

School went smoothly and all was well and then I decided upon graduating that I was going to move to New York City. I always wanted to live in New York. The idea of it made me have butterflies and it was so foreign to me. Hunnyyyy, it was the best decision I ever made. I first interned here are got a taste and once that happened, all bets were off.

nick pride 2016

Pride 2016, New York, NY

During my time in New York, I have witnessed many victories and tragedies in my community. I was here when gay marriage was legalized across the country. We can now just say “marriage” because gay marriage isn’t a thing. Marriage is marriage, fucking finally. I remember crying at work when that happened and I called my Mom and Dad. That was a great day. I was also here for my very first Pride March and that was an out of body experience. I never felt so normal in my life. Then I realized being normal is overrated. I was also here when the Pulse Shootings happened. I went to Stonewall for the vigil and to date, it was one of the saddest things I have ever experienced.

nick march

March for those murdered at Pulse Nightclub.

 All of those experiences are examples of what makes Pride Month so special. It is a celebration of what we have overcome and what we still have to overcome. We are so far from where we need to be, and there are so many things left to be done. Give your friends a hug, tell them you love them, give them a random compliment.

Just spread love and light because we need it now more than ever. Also, let this month be a reminder that together we will continue to fight for what is right, to not judge each other, to love and support each other, and to drink a lot of vodka sodas because calories do matter.

Happy Pride,
Nick Wright

You can check out Nick on Social Media:
Instagram: @nickreedwright
Twitter: @NICKREEDWRIGHT

He also hosts his own podcast called “Nick Interviews Friends”! 
Listen to it on Sound Cloud (aka binge all 7 episodes now) 

Pride Month: Emily

Because today is the one year anniversary of the Orlando shooting at the Pulse nightclub, I knew immediately that I wanted to share this piece. It’s just such a perfect combination of heartbreak, passion, and hope all rolled into one. Plus, as you will read, Emily came out to her friends and family a year ago from tomorrow, so she deserves some serious admiration for that kind of bad ass strength.

I know she already knows this, but I’m so lucky to have Emily in my life. Even though we don’t even live in the same state, I feel such a genuine connection to her. She’s definitely taught me more than she realizes, and it’s been cool AF to feel like I’ve had some kind of small part in her coming out journey over this past year.

In my opinion, this piece is such a prime example of Emily’s beauty, inside and out. Without further ado, here are her words on accepting her sexuality, and the multitude of emotions that come along with that: 

When I was 18 years old I got my first tattoo. It’s a simple script splayed across the right side of my rib-cage stating the word, “Forgive.” Forgiveness has been one of the most powerful guiding forces for me throughout my life, as well as the discovery of my sexual orientation. It guides what “Pride” means to me. The fight. The love that is love above all else. Forgiving yourself for not always being what your family, friends, or society wanted or imagined you to be. Forgiving them for their lack of acceptance. Forgiving everyone and everything because you are you, and what you are is beautiful.

For as long as I can remember, I have been attracted to women. To me, this never seemed wrong. Being the free-spirited, open minded and optimistic person that I am, it always felt natural. It was something I was always proud of, but at the same time, terrified to share. In 6th grade, I got my first kiss…from a girl, who also happened to be my best friend. Who was “just wondering what it felt like to kiss someone” and “wanted to practice before she kissed her crush.” She is definitely the straightest person that I know. I am definitely not. In 7th grade, I came out to one of my other friends, and she decided to never speak to me again – said she was afraid I would get a crush on her. Bless her heart, if only she knew she wasn’t my type.

High school came along and I went to an all girls’ school (oh, fuck yeah). Naturally, I befriended only the lesbians and bisexual girls. I came out to them and they were extremely supportive. I remember during this time in high school, my mom had randomly asked me one day, “Emily, do you think you could like girls?” Taken back by this, I nervously and quickly retorted, “What?? No! Why would you ever think that?” Then we never spoke of it again.

The summer going into my senior year of college, I fell deeply in love with someone for the first time. A woman. Things with her were mildly complicated. She dated a girl before me for roughly 3 years, but she kept it a secret and her family never knew. When she met me, she broke it off with that girl and started seeing me. Anyway, we dated for a while and then we both decided to come out to our families.

June 13th, 2016 is when I came out to my family. The day after the Orlando nightclub shooting. A time when I felt most vulnerable, but I knew that it needed to happen. I told my dad first. He was watching the news, and with my voice shaking, I just said, “Hey dad, um, you know my friend Nicole? Well, she’s my girlfriend. I like girls.” He had a strange reaction. He didn’t really know what to say. Then he started to tear up and (with horrible timing) news reports about the Orlando shooting came up on the TV. “I’m proud of you, Em. But life is dangerous for people like you and I don’t want anything happening to you.”

I went and told my mom and brother next. I told them exactly what I said to my dad, and my brother was like, “yeah okay so what I always knew that.” And my mom goes, “so you drive a Subaru and now you’re a lesbian?”, trying to crack a joke. Clearly, my parents have very different personalities. Overall, they’re very supportive of me and open minded about everything. My mom and I have had a few other talks about my sexuality and she will bring up an occasional question out of curiosity such as, “so… when you have babies, what are you going to do?” or “so you’ll only marry a woman? Are you sure?” It’s understandable that she asks these things and I like that she does. My family is still learning and trying to understand, and that means the most to me.

Senior year of college, I came out to everyone. All of my friends and even some of my professors (kinda awkward but whatevs). I was an RA at school and I remember during training for ResLife we were doing an activity, and I came out to a room full of about 25 people. That was the largest amount of people I had ever come out to at one time and it was absolutely fucking terrifying. Moments before I came out to them, I was standing there with my heart beating out of my chest. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears. I have never been so nervous and terrified to do something in my entire life, but everyone was supportive and loving. It was liberating as fuck and felt really good.

In October, I attended a poetry reading featuring Sarah Kay and Andrea Gibson. Andrea performed a poem I had never heard her perform before; it was about the Orlando shooting. I dropped to the floor and immediately started sobbing. I couldn’t stop. My friend who was with me was confused and worried, unsure of what was wrong. She knows that I identify with liking women, but she didn’t know that I came out to my family the day after the Orlando shooting. She didn’t know what that massacre did to me inside. The day before the shooting, I was sitting in a diner with my girlfriend, holding her hand over coffee and feeling comfortable. Holding her hand in a diner or walking down the street or kissing her in public was something I felt able to do – and then this happened. Orlando happened and it made me question everything about humanity. If you want to hear the poem you can watch/listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRUl2yfmDkk

My name is Emily. I am a registered nurse, sister, daughter, kickboxer, animal lover, coffee addict, aspiring bongo player…and I am bisexual. Some days I identify as a lesbian. I’m still trying to figure it all out but right now,

I am Proud to be who I am.

Also, check out Emily on Instagram !

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.