For this year’s pride month, Socksmith reached out to strong voices and allies in the LGBTQ+ community to share their stories with us. Many of them share common themes that questioning young people experience as they find themselves in their personalities and sexualities.
This week, we spoke with Reese (she/her/they/them) - artist, pansexual Socksmith ambassador, and an inspiration to us all. We hope that reading this will help others to discover their own self-love and pride.
Reese, define Pride in your words:
Pride means wearing all your colors shamelessly in every sense of the word. Loving boldly and unapologetically.
How have you come to describe your orientation?
Being gay (in my case, pan/demisexual) transcends the heteronormative conditioning we are spoon fed since childhood. Whether you are attracted the same sex or simply do not conform to any gender identity/restrictions on whom you love or how you love them. Being gay/queer to me is about freedom of heart, and expansion of the soul’s ability to find its counterpart in any human being regardless of gender stereotyping.
When did that break form the heteronormative kind of thinking?
I began feeling “weird” about sexuality and romance in general at a pretty young age. I found myself feeling attracted to some of my closest friends, and being very uncomfortable at sleepovers as early as 10 or 11 years old. I didn’t understand why I was feeling like this and because of my catholic upbringing, I felt shame and confusion. This journey is different for everyone, and to be honest because I first identified as bi (I had no idea pansexuality existed) and still found myself attracted to men, it was hard coming out to my mom and even my friends and other family without feeling like I had to “prove my gayness.” I think to this day as a 30-something-year-old, my mom still considers this a phase. Coming out I’ve realized is less about publicity and more about one’s self awareness to give a middle finger to anyone who tries to define or judge the way in which we love and to whom express our affections. It’s being able to walk down the street and hold the hand of a beautiful woman, man, trans person, or non-binary person without fear or shame of what anyone thinks. Remembering at the core of our beings, we first identify as human, and every human is worthy of love.
What advice would you give for those wanting to be better allies?
Biggest thing for me is pursuing your own quest for knowledge. Educate yourself! The internet can be a great place to start. Always ask/respect people’s pronouns (even when they aren’t present). Stop making assumptions and instead ask questions. But yeah, queer folk aren’t on this planet to teach the world about queerness. I mean, I’ll break it down to some degree, but please just let us live our lives without having to explain every step of the way. Being someone who was very confused and ashamed for a long time who had to figure it all out on my own, I feel any cisgender ally can do the same.
What would you say to someone still looking for their truth?
Be honest with yourself and ask questions. Sit with these emotions without judgement. (Again, the internet is a valuable tool for information). Also, follow queer public figures whom you emulate or whose message/platform you feel drawn to. The more people you follow who are able to express themselves freely, the more comfortable you will feel using verbiage and identifying the behaviors which apply to you.
Below are some resources for trans and queer youth: