Do you remember your first "ah-ha" moment? The first time you ever encountered an openly LGBTQ+ person in the wild? Just an everyday human, passing by on the street, ordering a coffee, or walking their dog.
For me, it was my manager at a steakhouse I worked at post-college. Growing up in Oklahoma, it never quite felt safe to admit my sexuality even to myself, let alone to let it show externally.
And yet there she was.
Openly queer, wife, baby on the way... living as confidently as can be.
Working with her, I heard countless conversations about day-to-day life, how excited she and her partner were to pick out nursery room items, how she and her wife had met, career goals, etc.
These conversations may have seemed insignificant to everyone else but to me, they were the evidence I didn't know I had been looking for. I realized if she could be herself, live a full and authentic life... so could I.
So I came out.
I stood firm in my identity and began to become a more full version of myself, living life without constraint.
Her visibility was the catalyst to an entirely new life for me. I can only hope that one day someone else will look to me as their example, an inspiration to be visible.
In my case, visibility was a permission slip. For others, it is literally the difference between life and death.
It can be exhausting fighting each day for a feeling of belonging and acceptance. Countless LGBTQ+ community members have lost their fight for belonging and to that, we say NO. MORE.
By showing up and remaining visible, we consciously give others their own permission slips and show them that there are others just like them out in the world.
We are here.
We are visible.
This Pride Month, the Pride and Joy Foundation has taken on the motto "Visibility is Life". Join us in our campaign and purchase your very own limited edition Visibility is Life t-shirt before the end of June.
Shipping is completely free within the United States and $15 from every shirt sale goes towards our Suicide Prevention Workshops for college-aged LGBTQ+ students. These workshops teach participants how to identify signals and intervene in an emergency. We hope you'll join us on this mission to let others know they are seen and never alone.
Braidyn (They/She) is the Director of Operations for the Pride and Joy Foundation. Braidyn is also a Content and Copywriter for LGBTQ+ owned businesses. Growing up in a small town in Oklahoma, they lived within books and stories that felt more like “home” than the environment around them. Once Braidyn entered the entrepreneurial space, she realized the power of queer story telling and how sheer visibility could create a “home” for others as all of the books did for her growing up. Braidyn now spends their days traveling the United States in a converted van and helps other queer folks tell their stories in a way that respects emotional boundaries, delivers impact and increases LGBTQ+ visibility.