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

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: 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: 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

Pride Month: Nick

Today’s post is written by my best friend’s friend, Nick. Similar to how I felt about yesterday’s writer, I knew even before I read Nick’s words that they were bound to be great. My best friend Sammy, the person who introduced me to Nick, has always had this ability to seek out some pretty exceptional and inspiring friends. Here is what she has to say about Nick and his words:

“I honestly don’t know how I am supposed to introduce this piece. It’s extremely special to me for multiple reasons. Reason one being that Nick is a close friend of mine. I inherited this friendship through my boyfriend and if you know Nick at all, you want him as a friend. He is smart, cool, incredibly funny and has great taste in music. Reason two is because when I asked Nick to do this, I knew going into it that he is an extreme procrastinator like myself. I honestly didn’t think I would receive any form of writing from him unless I harassed him (which I did). When I opened his email and had a chance to read his words, I found myself lost in them. I almost forgot my friend was the person behind the writing.

When I met Nick, he wasn’t “out” yet to his family and friends. When Nick told me, it was the most natural conversation in the world. To be honest, I already knew. What happened after, has been beyond anything I could have ever imagined. Not only did Nick introduce me to a community that is so unbelievably loving and supportive, he showed me what it means to truly be yourself. To live without fear and to love unconditionally. Nick wasn’t the happiest soul when I first met him. His transformation into the person he is today has been the most beautiful thing to watch, and I am blessed to be a part of it.

Pride to me is my friend finding happiness, growing closer to his father, and creating a life for himself that he (and everyone who loves him) is proud of.”

I truly hope Nick’s words impact all of you as much as they have impacted me and Sammy. Here are his feelings on “Pride”: 

Every LGBT person looks at the rainbow flag differently. It inspires the memory and ability to reflect on their own story and the mental battle that took place to accept who they are today. Every story is different, but our love for Pride and respect for what it represents is equal. My story is a happy one, but difficult to cope with (at the beginning) nonetheless.

I came out on my college graduation weekend to my dad (who is also gay), and his partner. I was planning on coming out to them in person, but due to a jam-packed weekend full of graduation events, I couldn’t. I ended up emailing my dad once he arrived back to Massachusetts (pathetic, I know, but I’m over it). I remember shaking before pressing the ‘Send’ button. I would hover my finger over the button and then stop and pace around the room. Eventually, I pressed the button and threw my phone onto my bed in disbelief. That was the first step toward a completely different way of life for me. There was no turning back at this point, and letting that sink in was an unforgettable sensation. Moments later my dad called me, and of course, I ignored it. He left me a long voicemail that I have saved to this day, and plan on never deleting. He ended up jumping on a plane to Denver two days later, and we talked and reflected on our own stories and what it meant to be a gay man in today’s world. You think you know your parents, but this experience gave me a whole different outlook on my dad as a person, and not just as my father. That summer I slowly started coming out to my friends. I experienced a number of different reactions, ranging from long, emotional hugs, to friends saying things like “What?! I thought we were going to make out!”. Eventually, towards the end of the summer, I would just get “Yeah, I already knew.” Regardless, every reaction has been a positive one, and I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful people who think nothing of a sexual orientation different than their own.

My dad’s partner (let’s call him Jon), who has been in my life since middle school, had more of an effect on my coming out than anyone else. My dad could have stayed in the closet for the rest of his life and no one would have known, but since meeting and falling in love with Jon, he learned that being closeted is no way to live. Since they met, both my dad and Jon have lived life to the absolute fullest. They’ve traveled the world, quit corporate jobs that give them no pleasure, and have been proudly gay and madly in love. Seeing my dad reinvent his life this way gave me the confidence to tell people the truth about myself. Knowing that, if my dad could come out at age 50 without judgment, I could do it at age 22. Witnessing that it’s possible to live a ‘traditional’ life with another man, and knowing that it is not only accepted but encouraged to get married, have kids, go on vacations, adopt a dog… Jon is the reason both my dad and I are happily gay because, without his leadership, we would look at the gay community as a group we falsely identified with. Now, years later, I’ve learned how amazing this community really is. A community I deeply resonate with and am extremely proud to be a part of.

So, what do I think of Pride? I think of my dad who came out later in life, and the struggle he dealt with for over 50 years. I think of my dad’s long-term partner, and what an amazing influence he’s had, not only on my dad’s life, but mine as well. I think of my own life, and how fortunate I am to have such accepting and loving people around me, and how not every gay person is born into this blessing. And lastly, when I look at that flag, I think of the heartless, horrible people that view it with disgust. Those who think this celebration isn’t deserved, or see it as harmful to society. Those are the ones who delayed this LGBT progression we’ve seen in the past two years, and those are the ones who will never know how to celebrate life like we do.

Pride Month: Kevin

Like I said before, this Pride Month project has given me such an amazing opportunity to get to know some really unique, talented, and beyond-awesome people. Going into this, I was hoping for some sort of outcoming like that, but I can assure you that this collaborative experience has become way more than anything that I could have imagined. 

Each person that has been willing to bear a bit of their soul for the purpose of this month has blown me away, and it makes me so excited to share their words each day. 

Today’s piece is written by Kevin, whom I was introduced to by my very great friend Louise. Before I even talked to him, I knew he would be cool. Louise just has this way of gravitating towards people that are worth knowing. Here is how she describes Kevin: 

“From meeting Kevin Freshmen year, covered in highlighter in the basement of Llamda Chi, to watching the soulful, creamii rapper perform live – I could tell that he has always had a gift for lighting up a room. I’ve always admired and loved how Kevin could make everyone instantly feel at ease, no matter the situation, like a friend you have known for years. I’m excited for you all to read on about how he finds solace in being part of the LGBTQ community in the same way in which I, and many of the people that know Kevin, have found comfort in him.

He has more talent than Pablo Picasso, the dance moves of Brittany Spears, and an absolute soul of gold. I hope his story inspires you as much as it continues to inspire me. (p.s. Kevin, ILY and miss you more than DHAWL DASH)”

Check out his words here:

I remember laying in bed at night as a kid, in the late 90’s through the 00’s, worrying about my own future. I vividly remember wishing my gay away as I would try to fall asleep. I had instincts of how difficult coming out would be when I got older. I would lay there worrying about how my older brother would view me — worrying about how my straight friends react. Coming out is very mentally taxing. The process is truly the most exhausting thing I’ve endured, just because of how patient you have to be when you receive insensitive or rude responses after you open up with somebody who may not have ever even met a gay person before. BUT it’s worth it. It feels good.

Today, I recognize that being gay is both electrifying and frustrating. I love the camaraderie I share with my “sisters” and I feel like my truest self when I can say whatever is on my mind, without non-identifying people making remarks or raising an eyebrow. This feeling is something my immediate family probably won’t ever understand. The relationship I have with people who are gay or sexually fluid or trans or queer is something I’ve become quite protective of — it is something that I honestly don’t want to share with straight people. Too often, they just don’t want to hear about what is really happening in our world… they may think they do sometimes, but I’ve noticed that even if it’s through their stiff body language — queer-talk can easily make straight people uncomfortable.

Sometimes I wonder how my parents and brother would react if I talked to them about what I talk about with my LGBTQ friends. I’m sure they’d be super uncomfortable and want to crawl in a tiny hole and die — and that kind of makes me giggle. Just because everyone knows for sure that I’m gay, doesn’t mean they can handle the full experience, and honestly, I’m learning to feel content with that. My immediate family offers me strength through advice and love and concern and care. They are what keep me from not tattooing things onto my face that I’d probably regret and adopting 13 cats… they keep me grounded. Even though sometimes I want to be a lot more reckless with my behavior– my family as a unit is always on my mind during the trials and tribulations of life, which is something not everybody can say, so I do my best to not take that for granted.

Friends can shift. You get into fights, you have falling outs, you say words that ultimately break bonds you thought could never break. But there is always community in being gay. In just 5 years, I’ve gotten to meet some people I never thought I would connect with and the common denominator between us is —– gay. We share a bond that is felt without always having to say what you’ve been through in words. We already know first hand how difficult gay experiences can be, especially when you’re young and don’t have a single outlet to open up to, which is why the common threads in our community feel so special and deep. 

Speaking of special and deep…… Love. If you’re gay, you’ve never grown up knowing what a prototype of “love” is because it is so underrepresented in our culture. It leaves many of us jaded by the mere idea. I like to speculate that if and when LGBTQ-identifying folks DO experience love, that it may be even more special and even more deep than those prototypes that were always shoved down our throats. Speaking of love – ily Samuel.

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Like Louise mentioned, Kevin is an artist!!! 
Check out his work on his website: https://www.artbysabo.com/
(it seriously will mesmerize you) 

You can also follow his work and life on Instagram: @bb_kv 

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.  

nicks parents stonewall

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: Tierney

The writer of this post, Tierney, is someone I’ve been following on social media for quite some time now. I remember when I first stumbled upon his Instagram, I was immediately in awe of his willingness to be so vulnerable and genuinely himself. My description may not do him justice, but his social media just conveys such a great balance of passion and happiness, mixed with honesty and struggle that I find so real and beautiful.
 
 
Here are a few of Tierney’s posts that I especially love:
 
 
**You can click the pictures to make them larger**
 
 
Regardless though, I’m going to take a shot in the dark and say those posts are probably hard to read as screenshots so I highly suggest following him on Instagram here!!! I promise that you will be captivated too.
 
 
Needless to say, I knew I had to reach out to Tierney to write for my blog this month.
 
 
When I first approached this project, I felt that it was especially important for every collaborator to feel entitled to their own creative freedom. The general idea for these posts, as you will see, is the meaning of the word “pride”. But aside from that, I told each writer that they could express their ideas and feelings in whatever way(s) they wanted.
 
 
Some of these posts, like yesterday’s for example, will be coming out stories. Some will be about feelings or experiences or memories related to the LGBTQ+ community. Some will be happy. Some will be sad. And some of them will be like Tierney’s, abstract and creative, yet all the while, just as important.
 
Check out Tierney’s feelings on “pride” here: 
 
To start this off, I am sort of lost for words on how to describe pride so instead, I’m just going to try to express the feeling of pride.
 
Have you ever stuck your head out the window and closed your eyes, just to feel the wind in your hair? That feeling of just letting go and not having a single care in the world. Like taking that first lick of ice cream on a super hot day; it rushes your body and creates a feeling of satisfaction. Now close your eyes and imagine laying in the middle of a field, with the grass outlining your body, and a very light breeze of wind playing with your hair. All the sudden, a crisp feeling touches your cheek and you can sense that it’s the sun, as it pierces through the clouds and gently touches your face once again to greet you with a hello.  The warmth consumes your body and your breathing begins to slow to make one deep breath. You are finding that peaceful bliss place.
 
This is what Pride feels like to me.
 
It is a very strong emotion and it gives you a sense of strength.  I believe that is exactly how our community works as well. We are a whole, and when together, we create a sense of strength. It can become emotional because you know you will always have someone fighting on your side, regardless of what you believe in, where you come from, or how you identify. It is truly such a wonderful feeling. It is Pride.
 
Happy Pride Month,
 
Tierney

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!!