A gay couple's pride flag helped give a young teen the courage to come out to their family.

One of the questions that LGBT people get most often during Pride month is why we need to be so visible all the time — especially in June, when you can't turn a corner without running into a rainbow-themed display at Target. While there are many reasons — check some out right here — one of the biggest reasons visibility is important is that it's letting future generations know that it's okay to be who you are. That there will always be people who support you.

In Round Rock, Texas, that visibility helped change the trajectory of one person's life. And it all has to do with the rainbow flag a couple flies outside their home every day.

Sal Stow, who lives at the home in question with her partner, Meghan Stabler, was just out picking up the mail when she noticed that there was a handwritten note held down by a rock among the letters and packages. She didn't know what to expect — sometimes those things are just pizza delivery menus — but when she took a closer look, the sentiment brought her near tears.

"Hello, you don't know me," the note began. "We've moving away today, but I wanted to thank you. Seeing a Pride flag waving so proudly outside your house every day has given me the courage to come out to my family and be comfortable with who I am." The note-writer had also drawn a self-portrait. In it, they look healthy and content while waving the transgender and pansexual pride flags.

On Twitter and Facebook, the note's been shared thousands of times.


The message here is crystal clear: When we're open about who we are and live our lives free of fear and shame (to the extent which society allows), we're also inspiring others to live out loud. And for those who are struggling with being open about their sexual orientation or gender identity, the tiniest symbols of love and acceptance are a reminder that the world can be a good, supportive place. Sometimes, no words need to be exchanged.

Sure, many of us yearn for a world in which no one has to come out because it's no longer frightening or dangerous, but while Americans have made great strides forward in furthering LGBT+ rights, coming out is anxiety-provoking. Especially when the threats of family rejection and homelessness are still all too real. For many teens, there's a fear that their friends and families will turn on them due to their sexual orientation — even if their loved ones endorsed support for the LGBT+ community before.

In a town like Round Rock, where, Stow writes, the residents are primarily conservative and the local government unanimously struck down a motion to fly a Pride flag at the courthouse, this type of visibility has even more of an impact.

"I am proud of who I am and the person I love. I will continue to be visible in whatever way I can," Stow vowed on Facebook. Maybe it's time we all picked up a rainbow flag to hang near our doors to show pride in ourselves and be an ally for others? Just an idea!

Inclusivity
Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

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