+
I'm still a closeted, queer woman. This is what pride means to me

Editor's Note: Raleigh Van Ness is a pseudonym used by Upworthy in order to protect the anonymity of the author.

It's hard to pinpoint the moment I knew I was queer. Growing up, I knew I was different. I liked boys because I was told I should like boys. I chased Chris for a kiss in Kindergarten on a whim and a dare—not out of any true want or desire. In fifth grade, I dated Brandon for his ball cap. It was a status symbol. It got me clout with the hip kids—the cool kids, you know, the girls who wore cropped sweaters and acid-wash jeans. While I had a steady stream of boyfriends in middle school, I did so to appear normal. To be normal. Plus, I couldn't possibly go to the Halloween dance alone, so I didn't.

I held Tyler's shoulders and swayed to Savage Garden.

Terrance sang every word of Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love to You" in my ear.

But the truth is my eyes weren't for them, not at 10, 12 or 17. I was—and always have been—attracted to women.


The first girl I recall liking was my best friend, Kathlyn. She was a sweet girl. A kind and loving girl. She was also beyond smart. The bookish type. Her long, brown locks regularly covered her eyes. But there was something about her gap teeth and freckled skin that enticed me. It entranced me. I wanted to be more than good friends.

I began having fantasies which would make you blush and would make my mother ashamed.

In high school, I scoured the scenes of scrambled porn—which, for those unaware, is how kids watched X-rated films in the pre-internet days—for curved lips and hips. For breasts and bare buttocks. I became obsessed with women's reactions and the sight of their satisfaction. I wanted to know that feeling. I wanted to share it with another.

On occasion, I've flirted with my desires. I've kissed and caressed some amazing women in my life, but no one knows it. Well, besides a few drunken college encounters caught on camera. But no one knows it because I am living a double life.

I am married to a man.

I am not alone. According to the Williams Institute at UCLA, 4% of adults in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, transgender or bisexual. This means there are approximately 9 million LGBTQ individuals in America, and many more live like me, in silence and in secret. While living in the closet can be isolating—scratch that: it can be upsetting, enraging and (some days) it fills me with shame—during Pride Month, I am humbled. I am thankful. I am accepted and understood.

You see, when I see a rainbow banner or flag I smile shyly, coyly because I feel seen. Even though I am closeted, I feel a sense of community. I feel like I belong and I am understood.

During Pride Month, I feel I am able to celebrate myself completely. Fully. I've spent my whole life ashamed of who I am—of what it is I feel, want, need, who I love and what I deserve—but seeing others embrace LGBTQ individuals makes me love myself and embrace myself. Seeing others celebrate Pride makes me value myself.

Pride month reminds me of how far I've come. Sure, I haven't "come out" to my friends and family, but I have come out to myself, and that is worth celebrating. Acknowledging my true self is half the battle.

Pride makes me feel backed. Supported. Like I have a family and home.

I also feel an immense sense of gratitude during Pride. I am thankful for the voices of others. For the strength of others. For the fight of others, and hope one day I can join them. I hope one day I have the courage to be myself. Loud and proud.

Make no mistake: There are days I still struggle. I hate myself. I am angry with myself. I feel like a failure and a fraud. On these days, I convince myself I have no community. Until I am open and honest, I am neither straight or queer. But while closets hide things, they don't keep secrets. Silence does not take away my identity. I am a wife, mother, runner, and a writer.

I am also a proud queer woman.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.


Keep ReadingShow less

This article originally appeared on 08.05.21


Six years ago, a high school student named Christopher Justice eloquently explained the multiple problems with flying the Confederate flag. A video clip of Justice's truth bomb has made the viral rounds a few times since then, and here it is once again getting the attention it deserves.

Justice doesn't just explain why the flag is seen as a symbol of racism. He also explains the history of when the flag originated and why flying a Confederate flag makes no sense for people who claim to be loyal Americans.

But that clip, as great as it is, is a small part of the whole story. Knowing how the discussion came about and seeing the full debate in context is even more impressive.

Keep ReadingShow less
via Tod Perry

This article originally appeared 8.18.21


18-year-old Twitter user Aimee recently took to Twitter to ask something most of us have probably wondered about without even realizing it:

"Serious question, what the fuck is this for?" she asked, next to a photo of that handle on the ceiling of every car that we all knew about and probably wondered about but never thought to even ask for some reason?!?!?!?!?!?

Keep ReadingShow less