Pride month is so close to our hearts, and this year, Socksmith invited some of our ambassadors in the LGBTQ+ community to talk about their experiences with us. This week we sat down to chat with our queer pride ambassador, Claire (she/her). If you've been reading our other blogs this month you've probably noticed that many of pride ambassadors share common themes that questioning young people experience as they find themselves in their personalities and sexualities.
We hope that hearing these stories will help others on their journey with discovery of self-love and pride.
Socksmith is also donating 100% of the profits from our Pride Novelty collection to crisis and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ+ youth, and $1 from our whole Pride Athletic collection, year round.
Claire, how would you describe Pride?
When I think of Pride, I think of the legends before me who fought against injustice to allow the next generation of LGBTQ+ people to live in less fear. I’m also transported back to my first pride parade where I was filled with support by thousands of strangers cheering me on. It was as if my glass half empty was filled up to the brim due to the beautiful support and energy of thousands of strangers.
Pride is comfort in my own skin.
What did the journey towards self-acceptance look like for you?
I grew up in a conservative town where I never even questioned my uniqueness. You were straight until proven otherwise. I started to realize friends developing these deep feelings for peers of the opposite sex but I wasn’t feeling the same. I tried to date men in high school but when I was trying to find a romantic connection, I felt sick to my stomach. It felt like I was trying to wear a shoe that I couldn’t fit into. It was uncomfortable, forced, and made me feel distanced from my true self. Each time a boy would try to make a romantic connection, I felt so horrible, sick, and emotional. My body was telling me that this was not a good fit.
In my senior year math class, a girl walked in with gorgeous red hair and an attitude that gave off the impression that she was so secure in herself. For the first time in my life, I got butterflies and was nervous to talk with her.
Since that year, I was able to look back at my whole life and pull out all the crushes on girls that I had along the way. I had felt these feelings all along but a heteronormative society forced me into a mold that I could not fit into.
I’m forever grateful to have gained the self-reflection to understand my own identity.
After attending the Coming Out Group at my local LGBT center, I grew into myself for the first time in my life. I was surrounded by people of all ages and backgrounds, all going through the same acceptance process themselves. The freedom and validity I experienced was like no other and I felt whole for the first time since childhood.
How would you define queer?
Queer is how I fully identify. When I was trying to discover my sexuality, straight didn’t fit but also, the word “gay” was a negative slang all throughout grade school. Queer was an umbrella term that instantly fit like a puzzle piece put into place. The word queer felt like a warm hug after months in the cold, feeling lost and unsure of who I was.
Queer is when you haven’t found a label that fits perfectly or don’t want a label in the first place! Queer felt so inclusive for me.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be an everyday ally for the LGBTQ+ community?
The biggest piece of advice I could give someone who wants to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community is to educate yourself on current and past issues that have affected this community. Follow advocates and activists for the community in social media and make sure go follow news sources like GayTimes (Instagram) to see how local and international legislations are directly affecting the community. By following people who are in the community, you are directly educating yourself on how to treat LGBTQ+ people with respect.
If you are a parent, buy books showing families of all kinds and find shows showing this as well. When you play pretend, demonstrate queer families in play!
Becoming familiar and comfortable with the community and learning on how to best support LGBTQ+ people today will help you be the best ally you can be.
What advice would you give to someone struggling with navigating speaking their truth about who they are?
Coming out is an extremely individual process. The first step is often coming out to yourself. It can feel very lonely and scary, but know you are not alone.
If you are struggling with navigating speaking your truth, I encourage you to find community to emerge yourself into. I was not comfortable with myself until I met others who were experiencing the same thing. During Covid times, there are so many support groups that meet weekly online. I encourage you to search online for your local LGBT center and find their virtual meetings. If you are intimidated to join a local meeting, you can definitely find ones that are out of state as well that you can join with your laptop once a week. The second I learned that I was not alone in this adventure of discovering and feeling comfortable in my sexuality, the doors opened. Community is everything. Having others who understand your process will help you be able to understand yourself even better.
Resources for trans and queer youth: