When A Breakdown Is A Breakthrough

Learning how to be audacious was something I developed in my mid-twenties. Childhood into my young twenties was anything but easy; I have overcome many obstacles along the way! Now in my thirties, I can reflect on my past, and be grateful for the life I’ve created.

Growing up, I was constantly mocked and shamed for my weight, compared to others in a way that told me I would never be good enough. With the perpetual abuse from my grandmother, it molded me into shy and apprehensive little girl that was afraid to be confident and courageous. She started me on diets around 8 years old, which lead to an eating disorder that lasted until I was 22. Managing my weight included starving myself, living on coffee, and abusing diet pills.

With having very little self-esteem, I was constantly craving love and affection. At 18 I believed I found it. OH BOY WAS I WRONG! I was introduced to a guy that would change my life forever. At first the feeling of “love” was truly amazing, I had those butterflies everyone was talking about. He made me feel like I was a princess in a fairytale. Since I was longing for love, I was blind to see the abusive, manipulative criminal that he actually was. Although he always promised he would never hurt me or get me in trouble—he lied! He kept me under his thumb by telling me “he was all that I had, no one else loved me, my family hated me, and that he would always find me.” Once the physical abuse started, I tried to leave multiple times but he would threaten me. Coming to know his erratic behavior, I took his threats seriously. Always reminding me that if I tried to leave, he would do unspeakable things to my mother and burn her house down. There were several other threats, but he knew that one scared me most, and I wouldn’t leave. The last time I ever saw him, and finally got away, was the day the police kicked in the door and arrested all of us. He was committing crimes in my car while I was locked away in a room. Ironically the abuse saved me from going to jail, but not enough to walk away without a criminal record. When the police brought me to the station I was wearing shorts and a tank top, my body was covered with bruises, which was documented in the police report. As they were taking pictures of my bruises they were fingerprinting me at the same time. I knew then my life would never be the same.

At this point, I went from being shy and timid to a full-blown introvert! Not wanting to leave my house or interact with anyone, I separated myself from social situations. At that time it didn’t matter so much because I lost all of my friends while I was dating that guy. After getting arrested they really didn’t want anything to do with me. Most of my time was spent working (thankfully my boss let me keep my job), worrying about court dates, and wondering if I was going to jail. I was so depressed and anxious. My world turned upside down because of “love.” Since the depression medications made me want to jump, I figured it was best to try something that always made me happy and social—diet pills. Slowly coming out of my shell and starting to interact with people was quite difficult. I was only interacting with people that also had hardships. I felt like they wouldn’t judge me.

After a few years, I could feel myself changing, becoming bored with the same ol’ routine, and wanting more out of life. The only problem was that it was really hard to make changes when you’re a felon. Craving something new in my life I started to look at schools, but admissions told me it was pointless because I would never be able to get a job. Receiving more bad news made me feel hopeless. I wanted to be happy, and one thing that made me happy was dancing, so I started to go to clubs every weekend. After a couple of years of alcohol and diet pills, I laid in my bed one night and felt my heart skip a beat, and another, and another. Laying there terrified, I whispered to myself "Holy shit you're gonna die… this has to stop.” The next day I started to look up ways to lose weight and detox naturally. I wanted all of the toxins out of my body and I wanted to be healthy—physically, mentally and emotionally! That search opened my eyes to so many forms of health and healing: organic foods/diet, herbal medicine, massage therapy, energy healing, yoga, and I wanted to learn about all of them… AND I DID!

After seeing an ad on TV for a massage school in the area, I decided to try again. I prayed for a miracle and a second chance at life. While sitting with the woman from admissions, I explained my situation. She kindly told that my record wouldn’t be a problem. As I sat there, tears of joy rolled down my face and into my lap. I knew my prayers had been answered! After graduating in 2006, I worked in a salon for many years building up my clientele. My dream was to eventually own a wellness center. In 2011, I moved from the salon and I opened my own massage practice. Currently, I’m rebranding into the wellness center I’ve always dreamed of! Holistic health changed my life!

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I was comfortable enough to tell my story. Life was going really well and I wanted to give back to the community. I felt a calling to help other women that are in abusive relationships. I contacted the Sojourner House and asked if their shelters needed anything. When the woman on phone replied with soap I knew I had to help out. I held a fundraiser collecting toiletries and was able to collect almost 2400 items for their shelter! The woman I was in contact with from Sojourner House asked how I heard of the shelter and I explained that when I was going to court many years ago the advocates always gave me their brochure. She encouraged me to talk to at their weekly meeting and share my story and that it’s far too common for women in domestic relationships to get arrested. WRONG PLACE, WRONG TIME, WRONG CROWD! She explained that I could inspire other women with my story. Showing them that there is life after an abusive relationship. Encouraging women to create the life they’ve always dreamed of!

I’m proud to say to that I found my courage and confidence even when the odds were against me. I’ve overcome the fear of walking into social situations and having to speak to people. I traded in starving myself for a healthier lifestyle, found romantic love in the process, and learned to give myself the love that I deserve! 

The root of all suffering is attachment.
— Buddha, Zen Buddhism

Loren Mendozzi is the owner of L. Marie's Wellness, your destination in Providence for holistic treatments & workshops that feed your spirit and repair your body.

The Secret Cure to Shame

As defined by Google, shame is a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.

But you know shame as the feeling in your gut when you feel that everyone has just discovered what a fraud you are. When it feels like you're standing there naked in front of your biggest enemy. When you want to run away from your life.

Shame is experienced as one of the most intense emotions. You can read endless books and watch Ted talks about shame for days. Shame has become so infamous because we can all relate to it. We can all remember time when we felt so overcome by shame that we thought we might die.

But what made shame so powerful?

When did shame rise above all the others - love, confidence, even sadness - to become this intense and pervasive awfulness we’ve all commonly experienced?

Here's the good news and the bad news:

You did. You made shame that powerful.

You made shame that powerful when you chose to suffer in silence. Shame over our bodies, shame around not being good enough, shame about our self worth. 

That’s the dark nasty stuff that we don't want to share with anyone. That’s how shame is born, and that’s where it gets its power.

The good news?

You can change that. You can disempower your shame. You can rip it from it’s emotional throne.

Shame is only “shame” because, according to the definition, it’s associated with a foolish behavior. It’s only “shame” because you feel humiliation and distress associated with it. 

Ask yourself this:
Was my behavior foolish or wrong?
And should I be feeling humiliation or distress about this?

Some of the top reasons we feel and experience shame have nothing to do with foolish behavior! In fact, I’m more apt to share stories about something foolish I did than the things I actually feel shameful about! 

I’d rather tell you a story about how I was looking for my cell phone while holding it than tell you about my deep insecurity of never being successful. 

And the second question: should I be feeling humiliation or distress? Think about the top 1 or 2 things you have shame about. Should you be feeling humiliation or distress about that? Probably not! 

But not to worry… I have a cure!

Want to get rid of that awful, gut-wrenching, anxiety-inducing shame stuff forever? 

Share it. Share your shame. Tell people that you love and that love you about all the secret shaming thoughts and ideas your having. 

Shame only works when it hides in secret. It hates the light! When you shine light on your shame, magic happens… it disappears! 

I’m not being facetious here. It’s true. Try it for yourself. Call a close friend, tell her something you’re ashamed of, and see what happens! 

A fuller, happier life is just on the other side of your shame. It’s all in your power!

What Happens When Anxiety and Shame Collide?

When this month’s theme was announced, “shameless,” I knew I wanted to talk about it but I wasn’t sure how I’d do it. How can you talk about being shameless when your entire life’s story points to the opposite reaction?

When I was 8-years old, I used to wake up in a sweat thinking that someone was chasing me. It was always the same dream, I was in a dark backyard and being chased by a black silhouette. In the middle of the yard, there was a blow-up swimming pool. I’d trip over it attempting to turn around to save my mother, father, sister, or brother.

If you asked me when I was 8, I’d have told you about this recurring nightmare in much more vivid detail. But now all I can really recount was waking up in the middle of the night, heart pounding, sweating, and often even crawling up the stairs into my parents’ room.

These are my earliest memories of anxiety.

There’s an incredibly profound link between anxiety and shame - one that we often don’t talk about. In the United States, anxiety is a mental health issue that impacts 40 million people. For women, diagnosis is 2x the rate of men.

Why is that? As women, are we genetically wired to “worry”? Do we simply “care more”? And do we honestly “care too much”?

When it comes to anxiety and shame, it’s all too easy to stereotype. Until recently, embarrassingly, that’s how I was handling it. Fearful of being thought of as “crazy,” a term that let’s be honest is often used to describe women, I told myself my constant need for perfection, order, control, and feelings of inadequacy were just part of “being a woman.”

As it turns out, it’s less about being a woman and more about being shameful. And like a circle, shame feeds into anxiety, anxiety feeds into shame. Anxiety is shame. Shame is anxiety.

Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough.
— Brené Brown

Anxiety is self-doubt. Did I lock the door before I left? Did I sound stupid in that meeting this morning?

Anxiety is being unable to turn your own thoughts off. It’s that voice in your head that tells you that you will fail, that you did fail.

Anxiety is overcompensation. It’s trying so hard to exceed expectations that you take on more than you can handle.

Anxiety is a fear of failure. You need to be perfect and one little slip up sends you down a shame spiral.

When you carry around the weight of a desire to be perfect all day, eventually your shoulders start to hurt. And when you filter your mistakes, or lack of perfection, through shame, eventually your heart starts to hurt, too.

Shame is when you feel like you’ve done something so wrong that you’re no longer adequate. Anxiety tells shame she’s right.

As women, we are constantly bombarded with ideas of what it means to be the perfect female. It starts as early as childhood. Little girls are told they can be anything they want and they should try everything they can. Recently, I recounted the story of my breakup with lacrosse. A sport I played for years even though I hated it because I was told it could get me a scholarship, and because everyone else around me played and they loved it so why shouldn’t I love it?

Can you imagine carrying that weight around in middle school? And I know I’m not alone. You have to hustle to “have it all” and once you’ve got it all how dare you admit you’re feeling inadequate or overwhelmed.

“You’re just stressed out.” “Stop worrying so much.” It all sounds the same - society tells women that we should not only be perfect at juggling careers, relationships, families, money, but that we should also look damn good doing it.

How can we really be surprised then to learn that women are faced with an emotional cost higher than they can truly afford? Worse, Glamour reported in 2010 that the average woman waits 9-12 years after experiencing symptoms of anxiety before she is properly diagnosed.

So I’ve learned, only recently, that to be shameless is to stop being fearful of talking about anxiety. When you’re stuck in a shame spiral - letting your feelings of inadequacy feed into anxiety and round and round you go, without talking about it, how do you rise up?

And maybe I’m not shameless yet, but damn I’m trying.
 

The Art of Shamelessness: 5 Nonfiction Stories That Exemplify the Beauty of Honesty

The word "shameless" often has a negative connotation—but I've always thought about it a bit differently. Society is all too willing to wrongly assign shame to people, behaviors, and situations, and often, an act that might be given the label of "shameless" could really be an act of honesty, of humanity, or of selflessness. (That's not to say that there aren't things people do wrongly do that they should be ashamed of; however, it's frequently the case that society was wrong to cast judgment.)

Honesty is integral to the fabric of community. Real, shameless, gritty honesty is what brings people together. It’s what makes our favorite TV shows, books, poems, friendships, and loves as warm, powerful, and important to us as they are. There’s just something reflective about reality -- even when it’s dark, damaging, or painful. We see our own lives, our own struggles, our own victories in those of others. And in the trust of that sameness, we connect. 

That quality of shamelessness is what always brings me back to creative nonfiction. I so value the bravery of creative nonfiction writers who are able to bare their souls so that others may see themselves in their lives and connect with them. Even though each person’s story is unique, finding the common threads of humanity in the story of another has so much power. And being able to set fear aside and convey honesty in a way that is equal parts genuine and artistic is an incredible skill.  

When I am my loneliest, I reach for those threads of humanity. Thanks to the unflinching, shameless honesty of these nonfiction stories (and many others), I’ve found them.

1. David Fitzpatrick

“On the outside, I appeared in grand shape that season. I was young and in love with a fabulous girl, hanging out at a beautiful, hip spot with true friends. But inside things were fraying and beginning to fragment. A seed of unrest lay behind my smile.”

Sharp: My Story of Madness, Cutting, and How I Reclaimed My Life

2. Ta-Nehisi Coates

“I did not know then that this is what life is—just when you master the geometry of one world, it slips away, and suddenly again, you’re swarmed by strange shapes and impossible angles.” 

The Beautiful Struggle: A Memoir

3. Jennifer Finney Boylan

“Since then, the awareness that I was in the wrong body, living the wrong life, was never out of my conscious mind—never, although my understanding of what it meant to be a boy, or a girl, was something that changed over time.”

She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders

4. Patricia Lockwood

“All my life I have overheard, all my life I have listened to what people will let slip when they think you are part of their we. A we is so powerful. It is the most corrupt and formidable institution on earth. Its hands are full of the crispest and most persuasive currency. Its mouth is full of received, repeating language. The we closes its ranks to protect the space inside it, where the air is different. It does not protect people. It protects its own shape.” 

Priestdaddy

5. Jhumpa Lahiri

“In a sense, I'm used to a kind of linguistic exile. My mother tongue, Bengali, is foreign in America. When you live in a country where your own language is considered foreign, you can feel a continuous sense of estrangement. You speak a secret, unknown language, lacking any correspondence to the environment. An absence that creates a distance within you.” 

In Other Words

Why I Started A Women's Empowerment Book Club At Work

To feel shame is, in my experience, to be fearful and anxious. Will I be good enough? Am I good enough?

Admittedly, being shameless is not something I have mastered. More often than not, I let my anxiety get the best of me and throw some serious shade at myself. Recently though, I am realizing that without talking about areas of real or perceived shame we will never truly be shameless.

Whether it’s your body image, your public speaking ability, your photography skills, even your parenting abilities, if you’re not talking about it unapologetically, you can’t truly become shameless in all that you are.

I stumbled on this quote from Sarah Silverman that honestly, and hysterically, sums up why I started a women’s empowerment book club at work: “Mother Teresa didn’t walk around complaining about her thighs, she had shit to do.”

Often, I grapple with self-doubt about my abilities - to lead, to succeed, to make an impact at work. To “earn” my seat at the table.

I was attending Ann Shoket’s Badass Babes dinner on the night before the Lady Project Summit when I realized something that I should have known all along: I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Sitting in a room full of women, many of which were my co-workers, we went around sharing what we’d hoped Ann could solve for us if she had a magic wand. And the resounding theme was clear: we all just wanted to be the best version of ourselves we could be.

Staring at my to-read list full of titles that promised me the world - confidence, leadership, power - and feeling like I was talking to a wall when reading passages aloud that nailed so perfectly how it feels to be a woman - I realized the shortest distance to being more shameless was to build a tribe.

I could “complain about my thighs” or do something about it.

So I reached out to a few women at work who I thought might be interested and something crazy happened. It was one of those “I thought it was just me!” moments that you don’t get to experience too often.

And now I have a book club at work. I was excited to find that everyone I asked had another book to add to the potential read list and a story to explain why they wanted to read it. We put it to a good old vote and started with The Confidence Code.

A group of women who want to read and discuss a book about how to be more confident and kick-ass at work? Sounds about right. We’re gearing up for our first discussion and I can’t wait to see just how shameless the entire conversation will feel.

I could complain about feeling inadequate at work or I could do something about it. Seems easy enough.

How The Child In Me Taught Me to Live Shamelessly 

It takes courage to grow up, and turn out to be who you really are
— E.E. Cummings

I knew at age three I wanted to be on stage in dance recitals, wearing shiny tap shoes, just like my older sister Lisa. I wasn’t timid or apprehensive as a kid. In fact, I was dubbed “the informer” at the innocent age of four by my family. My mom loves to tell stories of how she needed to meticulously hide every birthday present in the most obscure places. She knew her shameless informer would go hunting for them and spill the details to her siblings without a second thought. 

Favorite pastimes as a child included lip-syncing and dancing to Blondie and The Cover Girls in front of our giant VHS camcorder. Also being sure my voice was heard. I was quoted in the Providence Journal at eleven years old for defending the New Kids On the Block from haters (weird fact that I’m not making up). I suppose a little humility was lost on me.

As the inevitability of growing older unfolded, the opinions of others and the world’s false perceptions began to cloud my natural ability of not caring what others thought of me. I had one foot in the bucket of clarity and the understanding of who I was as an individual - an optimist at heart, a communicator, a day dreamer. The other foot lay planted too firmly in the ideologies that swirl among us as we navigate into adulthood. The gross misconceptions that we dream up in our minds. 

Don’t appear to be too outspoken, or ambitious. You might be perceived as conceited or full of yourself.

Don’t come across too smart, you will be labeled nerdy.  

Don't tell that boy he's making you upset, you might come across too soft or emotional (such a lie). 

And please do not, under any circumstances, color outside the lines and follow those dreams you hold so dear. Life doesn’t work that way. You have to stay in the box and play by the rules. 

I played small for a long time. I started to believe that life was linear and lacked fluidity. That being ourselves was risky. The extrovert in me was riding in the passenger seat, while the introvert took the wheel. To paint a picture of what that looks like is a bit of a travesty. Speaking up became an intimidation, and asking myself the right questions as to what made my heart sing. For years I was not in any sense of the word - “living a shameless life”. 

I suppose that is the truth behind being shameless in our lives. Standing, jumping, running towards the truth that is you, and never giving a second thought to those that are mocking you along the way. 

There is no pivotal moment of truth or clarity that suddenly came to me. I cannot pinpoint one particular scenario that shifted my thinking and urged me to start to live more shamelessly, to live like I mean it. It may have been the accumulation of all those decisions that weren’t suited for me, and I reached a breaking point. Maybe it has creeped up with age. Either way, I am still very much a work in progress. But I have learned that we must live shamelessly. With all of our might, it’s essential to our happiness. Not the happiness that is attached to outcomes, the real raw kind of happiness that feels natural and effortless. 

I take conscious steps towards a future that spells out what I want in life. 
I set boundaries. 
I do not apologize for being the eternal optimist. 
I write the truth. 
I try to stop myself from caring what others think (hard to do but necessary).
I say no, when I want to. 
I say yes, when I want to.  
I recognize failure, and admit to mistakes. 
I keep my circle small, and never apologize for spending time by myself. 
I eat ice cream out of the carton (such a rebel), and blast the damn music with the windows rolled down. 
I don’t cover up my grays, I feel blessed to be getting older. 
I break plans to clean my house.  
I swear like a trucker.
I embrace my contradictions.
I remind myself to take more risks when I start feeling too comfortable. 
I don’t follow trends because social media or a magazine said so. 

One of my favorite quotes in this world is from the poet Rumi, “Your heart knows the way, run in that direction.” It’s simple but profound. I have it written down on a piece of paper and leave it by my bed as a reminder that to be brave, to live shamelessly, we have to unlearn those things that hold us back. I suppose living shamelessly is simply being ourselves.  

Most days I think of myself as that kid, that would dance like nobody’s watching. I know she would say “you got this, run like hell towards all of it and don't you dare look back”. 

Letter From The Editor // Shameless

The thing that you are most afraid of has already happened.
— Elizabeth Gilbert

shame
noun

a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.

verb

(of a person, action, or situation) make (someone) feel ashamed.

shameless
adjective

(of a person or their conduct) characterized by or showing a lack of shame.

I used to be a shy, nervous kid. Hard for some people to believe, I’m sure. I wondered what people thought about me all the time. I never wanted to speak up or do anything that called any extra attention to myself. I was carrying around shame for reasons I don’t know about now. I can remember the first time I didn't feel any shame. It was when I shared my photography. I was always very self-conscious about my creative projects. Especially being the child of an artist. I felt like I didn't have it. I couldn’t draw or paint. Don’t ask me to make something with my hands. But I felt different when I started sharing my photography online. I was proud of it. I never once thought “what if someone doesn’t like it?” or “what if people make fun of me for taking photos?” I just kept shooting and sharing. 

Now I am a social media consultant and avid Instagrammer and I always come across people saying “I’m not a photographer” when it comes to their lackluster photo skills. My response is always the same. “You don’t have to be a photographer. All it takes is a little attention and intention and you can take great photos.” I am usually met with a “whatever” blank stare and that’s the end of that. But it got me thinking. Why is there such kickback to people trying a little harder when taking photos? And then I remembered a podcast I listened to with Elizabeth Gilbert and Brené Brown.

“Creativity is the way I share my soul with the world,” Brené said that within the first three minutes of the podcast. "The only unique contribution we will make in this world will be born of creativity. There is no such thing as non-creative people. There are people who use their creativity and people who don’t. Unused creativity is not benign.” If you are unfamiliar with Brené’s work in the realms of shame and vulnerability, she realized that people’s creativity gets stifled in childhood and shame is then built in its place. Eighty-five percent of people Brené interviewed remembered an event in school that was so shaming that it changed how they thought about themselves for the rest of their lives. Fifty percent of those same people say those shame wounds were about creativity. 

So, what is the correlation between this and people not wanting to learn to take better photos? I think that maybe somewhere deep down it is hitting people’s shame spot around being creative. Maybe they think it’s silly or a waste of time to learn how to set up a shot or learn how to edit a photo. Or maybe it’s reminding them of the creativity that they have been holding back within themselves. Patrick Janelle, a very popular Instagrammer, once said that Instagram is very democratic because we are all using the same devices to create and consume content. You don’t need thousands of dollars worth of equipment. You don’t need a degree in art. All you need is your phone. I hope that people can work through the shame around creating and just do it. 

This month our writers will be sharing stories of shamelessness. From living life unapologetically to working their way up that confidence ladder. I hope by the end of this month you too will be a little bit more shameless.

Warmly,
Brittanny Taylor
Editor-in-chief

A Quick Wrap Up On Pride

I knew this month was going to be interesting. Would I get people to write for me? Would they trust me to create a safe space? Would people read it? It’s easy for some to say that they are they are inclusive and here for everyone but are they really? It takes effort to learn about someone else. The majority of the writers on this blog are white cis straight women. That’s just a fact. I want this blog to be a place for all voices. That’s why I featured Black and Arab women you should know in February and April respectively and LGBTQ+ folks this month. As long as I am the editor I want to highlight voices that don’t often get the platform they deserve.

I am a black cis bisexual woman who is straight passing. There is a lot of privilege in that. The majority of people in my life have no idea. It’s not something I am trying to hide. I just don’t think that it’s a defining feature about me. I think my love of squirrels and only wearing black clothing says more about me than being bisexual does. But sometimes it is important to talk about it. Being silent makes it seem like it’s not worth talking about. That is should be left under the covers. I don’t believe that at all.

So thank you to everyone who shared a bit of themselves for this month of Pride. I am proud that you chose this space to be vulnerable and honest with me and The Lady Project community. I hope you all had a very happy Pride.

Warmly,
Brittanny Taylor
Editor-in-chief

12 LGBTQ+ Folks You Should Know // Mia McKenzie

Mia McKenzie is a writer, activist, and the founder of the website Black Girl Dangerous. McKenzie identifies as a queer Black feminist and uses her writing and website to make space for LGBTQ people of color. Her debut novel, The Summer We Got Free, received the Lambda Literary Award in 2013. McKenzie presents talks that center around the intersections of race, class, queerness, and gender at universities and conferences across the United States.
Source

Proud Resistance

I came up, came out, and came of age in early 90s AIDS activism. My queer identity and activist identity are indelibly linked; nearly everything I know about creative resistance, celebration of tiny victories, and mutual support I first learned from the inspiring action of ACT-UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. And nearly all of the folks who I first learned from are dead – we lost so many in those years. And yet, through all the pain and challenge, we never lost a sense of humor. In a recent newsletter for BinderCon, my friend Tina Horn recently defined queerness as “whatever mischievously undermines power”. I strongly identify with that definition – the creative resistance, serving as a modern court jester poking fun at the king. 

The iconic SILENCE=DEATH poster, black with a pink triangle pointing upwards and bold white text, was a tiny resistance to queer invisibility, and to the refusal of the government to acknowledge AIDS. But my favorite text on that poster is the fine print: Turn Anger, Fear, Grief into Action. So earlier this month, when I was visiting the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York, I was deeply moved to see this text in a huge mural on their wall: “What does Trump’s presidency tell us about the state of queer America? Do you really think marriage rights and elections protect you? Queer power is the power to change the world. Turn Anger, Fear, Grief into Action. Be Vigilant. Refuse. Resist. SILENCE=DEATH”.

The Stonewall riots, the event that we commemorate each June, was an uprising led by queer and trans women of color against police suppression. The corporate sponsored Pride festivals, permitted and regulated and led by police details, would be unrecognizable to those early leaders. Let’s remember that we are still not embraced or celebrated by the majority culture. Let’s remember as well that many of us hold multiple identities, and that our sexual orientation or gender identity may not be the only facet of our lives under attack. If we are not white; are gender variant; poor or working class; undocumented; Muslim; femme or feminine or female; form non-dyadic partnerships; and/or otherwise resist the dominant paradigm, we still must resist for survival. As we make our collective way toward liberation, let’s remember that we only find our way to true freedom by undermining oppression in all its forms.   

Jenn Steinfeld is a bourgie revolutionary and queer feminist with a passion for speaking truth to power. As a founder of Marriage Equality Rhode Island, and helped steward the organization for more thJenn was named a Mover and Shaker for her LGBTQ advocacy by Rhode Island Monthly in 2006 and received an inaugural Julie Pell Empowerment Award for Social Change & Civic Engagement from the Equity Action Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation in 2010. She is a student of nonviolent communication and an avid knitter and gardener. In her day job, she manages the Social Innovation Initiative at Brown University's Swearer Center; she is also a student in the MA program in Mindfulness Studies at Lesley University and would be happy to talk your ear off about using neuroplasticity to enhance wellbeing.