it’s not all rainbows and sunshine…

…And that’s coming from a gay Ologist with a sun tattoo.

But during a month when companies swap their usual profile pictures for rainbow versions, it’s important to remember the power of authenticity. And as growing swarms of consumers use their dollars to vote for the causes they’re passionate about, it’s not only crucial to the ethical standing of your organization, but to your profitability, too. Rainbow-izing your logo or wishing your Instagram followers a “happy Pride Month” just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Because underneath the unicorn-encrusted façade, there has to be some substance. There should be proof that your hiring practices include nondiscrimination clauses for LGBTQ+ people. There should be proceeds donated to causes that support the lives of queer people. There should be a commitment to inclusion that’s woven into the fabric of your company’s culture.

Here are a few brands we’re inspired by this Pride Month. These brands are putting their philanthropic efforts where their rainbows are. And they’re making us proud.

Lush’s Trans Rights Campaign
Lush launched its Trans Rights Campaign in 2018 with a dual mission: tell the stories of transgender and non-binary people to create awareness, and create a product to benefit national causes working for trans rights. The campaign grew out of requests from Lush’s staff members, after they learned about the high rates of discrimination faced by the trans community. Even more impressive is the work the company did internally to create better experiences for its trans employees and customers. It’s all an incredible example of what an empowered staff can make happen.

Key takeaway: By focusing on one of the most underserved populations in the LGBTQ+ community, Lush not only took a striking stand, but made a significant impact.

Madewell’s “Do Well” Campaign
Madewell is a great example of what it looks like to do more than put a rainbow on a T-shirt. Half of the retail price from sales of the company’s pride gear goes to the Human Rights Campaign (the country’s biggest LGBTQ+ advocacy organization). But this is just a small part of Madewell’s greater social commitment. Madewell continues to ensure that its women workers receive equal pay and equal rights, that its factories are fair trade certified, and that its associates remain committed to making a difference in their communities.

Key takeaway: Madewell’s customers know that its intentions are authentic, because its efforts touch every level of the company, have an impact internally and externally, and continue throughout all 365 days of the year.

Jeni’s Nina West Collection
Two Columbus powerhouses — Jeni Britton Bauer, the founder of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, and Nina West, beloved contestant on this season’s RuPaul’s Drag Race — teamed up to sell a collection of ice creams benefiting the Nina West Foundation. (Jeni’s also invited Nina to design her own limited-edition signature flavor.) The drag queen’s charity has raised millions to support LGBTQ+ organizations, and partnering with Jeni’s makes the entire effort that much sweeter.

Key takeaway: In partnering with a nonprofit, many brands will clear off a small corner of their marketing real estate. But Jeni’s was willing to step back and give Nina the mic — and a bigger platform for her mission. That’s true commitment to the cause.

this post was originally written for Ologie.

who matilda is & why she’s the worst

Matilda and I go way back. To my Sophomore year of high school to be exact. While I was figuring out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, Matilda made a fashionably late appearance and a lasting impact that is close to my heart. Literally. She is very close to my actual, anatomical heart.

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Matilda is the name I gave my fibroadenoma, a benign tumor in my left breast. When I was grabbing my boob as an automatic reaction to the random shooting pains in the middle of Ruby Tuesday and needed to provide a brief explanation to my friends, I would say, “Matilda is being a real b*&%h today – and they would nod with sympathy. It became our little inside joke that allowed me to explain my discomfort in the most socially acceptable way.

I’ve gone through more ultrasounds than I can count. I’ve sat in cold examination rooms with the robe open in the front. (I’m bringing my own denim one next time for my own sanity.) I’ve sat, teary-eyed, nervous, and 23 years old, in sunny waiting rooms for painful biopsies. I’ve wiped the tears streaming from my eyes headed to the paper on the examination room table. I’ve winced as they tried to numb Matilda in her entirety with no success. I’ve cried silently while they collect samples that sound like staple guns.

But, luckily, as temperamental as Matilda has been over the past 8 years, she is non-cancerous. But the same can’t be said for many of the strong women and men who have come before me facing the same fears with not-so-fortunate outcomes.

Although the chances of breast cancer are lower for younger women, I want others to know that self-exams are vital to their health and well-being. And that they are not alone. And that the strength of a woman is something we should never doubt. Read up:

Warning Signs of Breast Cancer

The 5 Steps of a Self-Breast Exam

 

 

the movement

I’ll never forget that minty blue-green leotard and the magic it encapsulated. It was about the same size as would have fit a small Chihuahua. It had little pink satin bows on each hip and it symbolized my future “big girl” self. I visited my grandmother, who now dances from above, before we headed to the studio my older sisters seemed to live in, Vickye Lewis Dance Company, and the day was what every three-year-old little girl has ever dreamed of. (Minus Cinderella making me the long lost Disney princess and living in a castle with my invisible friend Amy.)
I began my dancing career that day nearly 18 years ago, and it began my love of movement and the power only expressing oneself can give. I truly believe this passion of mine paved the way to a creative talent I share with you today—writing. Through movement and an open flow of creativity and ideas, I can express to others what I can’t always voice.

The way a poetic melody paired with a compelling lyric made my toes flutter and my heart pound was intoxicating. It was as if the music moved through me. My brain didn’t need to equate or calculate. I didn’t have to think of anything but the next positioning of my feet. It was a beautiful escape.

After 15 years of some interesting dance concepts on my part—I recreated the infamous Tom Cruise in Risky Business scene as a solo performance, spiked a beach ball at someone in the audience and wore a costume that made me look like a glittery pickle—I packed up everything I had ever known and moved to college. And without my reliance on my parents, my dancing fell to homework, meetings, fest seasons and college boys. The stress a new environment, group of friends and priorities bottled up inside me with no way to physically escape.

I have learned to incorporate dance and creativity into my schedule the hard way. And when I fail to do just this, my mood tends to show it. So, here is a note to the present and future me: As time will tell you, the movement that removes you from the chaos is sometimes difficult to keep up with. But remember that little leotard and the look on your loved ones face when they saw a future for you before you created your own. There’s a reason you were given that talent. It is your ticket to sanity and a world your three-year-old self could have only dreamed of. Brush the dust off your oxfords, lace up your ballets, and sweep the floor with sounds of your taps. Never let go of the one thing that fueled your need for adrenaline, your hunger for success and your craving for creativity. The movement is in you and you are the movement.

the speech you never got to hear

129 weeks. 903 Days. That’s all it took.

For some it was a few more. For some, a few less.

But either way, it didn’t take long. We didn’t expect it, although they warned us it would happen. They warned us if we stayed for summers it would make it worse. They said it wouldn’t take long, the time would fly by. The more Homecomings, nights on Court Street, lazy Sundays, Section Eight Concerts, Karaoke nights, afternoons on the Green, Boyd Brunches, and clubs you join the harder you’ll fall.

Perhaps it was the moment we realized we would rather stay in this little town over extended weekends than go back to our hometown. Or maybe it happened when you realized you met your soulmates here, whether romantic or platonic. Or, for many of us, it could be hitting you like a ton of Athens Block bricks as you realize there will be a day when we leave it all behind.

But no matter whether it was at-first-sight or friends-first, we fell in love.

Deep, unwavering, let-you-have-the-last-pink-starburst kind of love.

It’s a love that changes the scope of your life and the shape it will take. It leads us on a journey we didn’t foresee but had always hoped for. And for us, a journey that has lead us here today beside the ones who prepared us for the love we have in our hearts.

We have fallen in love with Ohio University. Yes, the bricks are magical. Of course College Green looks like a scene God created by hand. The cherry blossoms look like they’ve been plucked from a post card and placed around campus. And although we may have decided to attend Ohio University because of the views, they aren’t the reason we fell in love here. They aren’t the reason our heart is aching at the thought of leaving | our | home | behind.

What will we do when we don’t have Wings Over and their free delivery? Or Bagel Street Deli to cure the aftermath of the hot nuts? 24/7 access to Union Street Diner? The thought of a morning without a Casa bloody mary is a morning I don’t want to face. We fell in love with the endless variety of affordable, ethnic, sometimes bizarre cuisine. I can picture the look on the face of subway employees now when I walk up and say “I’d like a Kevorkian with sprouts and a morning after on pretzel please.”

Another reason we fell in love with Athens is our student organizations. They truly became the family we chose for ourselves. They helped us grow, prepare, and be the people we are today. Our families raised us, our organizations prepared us. There will never be a day we don’t hear PRSSA, SAB, Section 8, Alpha Gam, or BobcaThon and not smile. I can confidently say I wouldn’t be the human being I am without SAB. Each and every person in our student organizations taught us a critical lesson, shared an unforgettable memory with you, and made you proud to represent that organization on campus.

But one of the undeniable reasons we fell in love was Bobcat Pride. What would we do if we didn’t have football games to go to with our brand new friends opening weekend freshman year? Or should I say Marching 110 performances to attend? It’s the pride in our heart that each bobcat carries no matter how old or young. It’s what makes Homecoming the most magical day of the year.

But maybe it isn’t just the food, or the student organizations or the bobcat pride we’ll miss.

Answer these questions:

Who did you order Wings Over with?

Who did you pile in the car with when you were craving USD?

Who did you re-live your Friday night with at Casa?

Who did you meet in PRSSA or Alpha Phi Omega?

Whose hand did you hold (or drag) to the homecoming parade?

Your answers are the true reasons why we fell in love with this place. When you think about it, it’s the memories we made in between the hot nuts and black widows and the friendships we cheers’d to that we’ll miss. And the memories we made at 2:15am in line at O’Betty’s or Big Mama’s. It’s the people who held your hand when your heart was broken, brought you ice cream when you were homesick, felt your anxiety over post-grad plans, were there for you through the loss of loved ones, laughed with you over your silly mistakes. It’s the people who may be sitting next to you at    this    very    moment.

When it all comes down to it, we’ll miss the food, the affordable drinks, the pride, the campus and our beloved Student Alumni Board. But what we’ll miss the most isn’t going anywhere at all. The friendships we made the past few years are the heart of why we fell in love with Ohio University. The people we have met here will always be a part of our lives. We will carry the memories in our hearts forever. But the people will always be there. They will become our bridesmaids, groomsmen, our kids’ godmothers and godfathers, and the people we still call when we’re homesick from Athens.

We fell in love. Deep, unwavering, let you eat the last pink starburst kind of love. But our love as bobcats will be something we carry with us for the rest of our lives. Our journey as bobcats is just beginning.

Students THEN | Alumni NOW | Bobcats FOREVER.

monday mumbles

13 Reasons You Should Date a Sagittarius

Five Signs You Met Your Soul Mate

22 Ways College Kids Are Basically Babies

make | it | stop

why do we find comfort in summing up complex

feelings | people | thoughts

like they’re grocery lists?

dating a sagittarius woman is

complex | confusing | rewarding

meeting your soul mate is

consuming | intoxicating | liberating

college students cannot. be. defined.

and no one can be summarized into a grocery list. feelings are too deep, people are too strong, and thoughts are too personal.

cheers to the beautiful women, college kids, and soul mates who cannot be summarized into grocery lists.

x|o|x|o