Out & About (Feb 2019)

adp pride 3I am lucky and fortunate enough to work for a company that is very socially conscious and progressive in various areas. My company does a lot of charity work, including giving each employee 8 volunteer hours of PTO to use each year. They give parental leave to anyone who is becoming a parent – which includes fathers, adoption, LGBTQ couples, and more. They also have internal organizations to join to help you feel a sense of community, which includes a Pride organization that publishes a bi-monthly newsletter, titled “Out & About.”*

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There were three key pieces of news and information that was shared in the February 2019 issue of “Out & About” that I wanted to highlight, as they are extremely important milestones in LGBTQ history:

1. LGBTQ Representation in Record Numbers
This was something that I highlighted in my post-election post that celebrated the diversity we had just elected into office, and was also highlighted in the magazine as well. Representation in our government now includes record high numbers of open LGBTQ community members. This year, we swore into office our first openly bisexual Senate member and the first lesbian parent in Congress (making 10 total LGBTQ members overall). Having these perspectives in office can greatly help to provide a more well-rounded basis of legislation, and can better represent the people in which they are governing.

2. Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act
The Governor of New York signed this act on January 25th, which adds gender identity and gender expression to their list of protected classes. This ensures that Transgender and Non-Binary individuals are protected against discrimination in housing, employment, and bathroom access (many other states have already put this in place). New York also passed a law that bans conversion therapy, along with 14 other states who have banned the outdated practice as well. Conversation therapy has never shown evidence of affecting a persons sexual preference, but instead has only proved to have intense damages as a result. As a result of these two changes, New York has made great strides in supporting the LGBTQ community.

3. LGBTQ Inclusivity in School
New Jersey has passed a law that will recognize LGBTQ members of history in middle school and high school curricula. This will show the leaders and contributors of history as well as LGBTQ milestones and perspectives. Having this requirement in classrooms can greatly normalize the community during important and formative years. The law also requires that there is more inclusion for individuals with disabilities. This inclusion to the education in NJ should better represent the world overall and should help celebrate all world perspectives.

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I feel very grateful that my workplace is recognizing some of the same values that are important to me, and celebrating milestones alongside the LGBTQ community. And I hope that more history continues to be made.

Thanks for reading.

*Out & About is an ADP resource intended for internal use only.

Universal Background Checks Bill

tomns.JPGRemember TOMS®? The super cute slip on shoes that would donate a pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair of shoes that you purchase? As if this company wasn’t socially conscious enough, TOMS® is now doing even more.

I’m a big advocate for a reform on gun control, hoping that we can live in a world where gun safety is regulated the way automobile safety is. I believe in universal background checks, routine safety regulations, and appropriate training for all guns that are issued. I myself do not want to ever own a gun, as that would make me wildly uncomfortable, but I understand that others may feel differently. On a PERSONAL level, I hate guns. On a REALISTIC level, I just want the proper protocols to be in place.

After all, over 90% of Americans agree on universal background checks.*

Think about all the steps it takes to own a car. You have to study to pass a written test to get your license. Then, after practicing with a licensed adult, you earn your hours and take your driver’s test to get your real license. Then, you update that routinely. You also obtain a vehicle, which is also checked routinely to ensure the safety of you and those around you. While on the road, you obey the laws of the road, and you don’t let others drive your car who aren’t legally allowed to do so. If you break the law and get caught, you’ll get fines and penalties against your license, and could even have it taken away if you do not follow legislation. Now, nothing will ever prevent accidents from happening, but think about how much more chaos there would be if we didn’t have these rules and regulations for automobiles in place. Why do we not have the same routines for gun control? Both are man-made objects that accidentally take the lives of innocent people every single day. Why are they not treated the same?

UBGC 4On January 8th, a bipartisan bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would require universal background checks for all gun sales.* The bill is knows as H.R.8, and is a gigantic step for the gun reform movement. This proves that even in such divided times, we still have the ability to agree on basic human issues, and we can affect change.

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In an effort to help push this action, TOMS® has launched a postcard campaign to streamline a way to contact the representatives. By just providing your information via the TOMS® website, you could help take action on this very important issue. Over 720,000 postcards were hand-delivered to Congress as a result of the TOMS® Brand’s effort to make a difference. One of them, of course, was mine!

And now, we can proudly say that the universal background checks bill has been passed in the U.S. House of Representatives!

UBGC 6I hope that this is a historical first step into ending gun violence in the United States. Next stop: THE SENATE! We still have a long way to go, so please remember to vote this November for the representatives that are helping to make the world a better place.

Thanks for reading!

*All information found on the TOMS® website.
Visit https://www.toms.com/ for more information on how TOMS®
is getting involved, how you can help, or to go shoe shopping.

New Tattoos

I’m a big fan of tattoos and already have several small ones, and now I have added tattoos #8 and #9.

These were both tattoos that I had been thinking about for a very long time. The first one, actually, I almost got done in college and didn’t because of last minute plans that got changed. Now almost 6 years later, I finally got it done.

gravityThere are two songs titled “Gravity” that hold a lot of weight to me for different reasons. One is by John Mayer, and the other by Sara Bareilles. The idea of “gravity” allows you to be pulled towards different directions, and can have forces working against you. You may feel a magnetic connection to something and can easily be swayed as a result of it’s pull. We can allow ourselves to be influenced, or we can stop it from keeping us down. Gravity is also what can keep us grounded, and keep our heads out of the clouds. I got the word “gravity” tattooed behind by left ear, as a reminder to be in control of my life and to keep myself grounded. (This was also written in my mom’s handwriting.)

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My other tattoo is on my upper/inner right forearm. This tattoo is of the Libra constellation, depicted by flowers. I always resonated with being a Libra, but the idea of “balance” is something I can’t always connect with. Balance is something I strive for, but rarely achieve, so I didn’t want to get the Libra scale as my tattoo. Instead, there are two flowers, whose blossoms represent the stars in the constellation. This shows that despite expectations, we will bloom where we are planted, but we will grow how we want to.

I’m super super super happy with all of my tattoos and look forward for more to come!

Thanks for reading.

My Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon Experience

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I was FRONT ROW for the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and Jimmy even said hi to me! This was my first experience with going to a taping of the Tonight Show, but I hope it is not my last.

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Getting tickets was a process. You have to put your name in a drawing, which is time sensitive, and then just hope to get picked. The tickets are free, but just not guaranteed that you’ll get picked. I followed @FallonTix on Twitter, which tweets when the ticket drawings open. Typically they release the drawing the month prior, and the spots fill up really quickly. You are limited to putting your name in for 3 different dates, and the celebrity guests are not listed. Basically, you just have to make sure that the date works for you. If you want my opinion on how to better your chances of getting picked, you have to spend time writing something in the comments. The audience of the Tonight Show is the only laugh track for the show, so they want fans of Jimmy’s in the audience. I wrote in the comments about how I was a huge fan of Jimmy’s and that I watch the Tonight Show religiously, etc. I can’t guarantee that this is the trick, but I do think it helps.

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I got an email confirming that I received tickets about 3 weeks prior to the show. It gave me the date and asked for a confirmation of who will be taking my second ticket, and just like that I was all set. I tried to research who the guests were scheduled to be, but that information was not released until the week before.  Now, I do my research, so I read a blog that someone else wrote about attending the Tonight Show, and in that person’s experience, the show taped and aired on the same day. Since I assumed this to be true for all shows, my best friend and I were under the impression that we were going to see Jada Pinkett Smith and the Backstreet Boys. Welp, we were wrong. You see, we went on a Thursday, and they do two tapings on Thursday so that no one has to work Friday’s. Since we were attending the second taping, we were actually going to the Friday show, not the Thursday show. So, no Backstreet Boys and no Jada, but don’t worry it all turns out okay!

tonight show 2We got to Rockefeller Center with enough time to sort of explore, get something to eat, and get in line with plenty of time to spare. The check in deadline was 5:45, but we were allowed in up to half an hour prior. We were given new tickets at check-in that had a letter written in Sharpie on the back, which is what they used later on to line us up alphabetically. Our letter was H, and when they called up the first half of the alphabet, the only ones in front of us were two girls with the letter G, which resulted in the four of us being front row! The NBC Pages and staff do a great job of really hyping you up along the way, as well as keeping things orderly in getting everyone to their seats.

tonight show joThe show we saw aired on Friday, January 25th, and the guests were Matt Le Blanc, Nikki and Brie Bella, and Jo Firestone. Of course we all know Matt Le Blanc as Joey from Friends, and the Bella Twins have their own reality show (Nikki was also on Dancing with the Stars, which is what I know her from). Jo Firestone is a comedian that used to be a writer for the Tonight Show, so I actually recognized her right away, but I don’t believe she is super well known yet. It was a great show to go to, there was a lot of laughter, and being in the front row was just so super cool.

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When Jimmy walked out for his monologue and we all started cheering, my friend and I waved our hands and jumped up and down excitedly. This of course got Jimmy’s attention – AND HE LOOKED RIGHT AT US, POINTED, SAID HELLO AND THANKED US FOR COMING!! It was seriously so awesome. At the very very end of the show, Jimmy walks through the audience and gives everyone a high five. Since I was in the front row, he kind of high fived me but it turned into more of a handshake, and then he leaned past me to high five the guy behind me as well. I seriously thought about just going for it and giving him a hug since we were already almost there, but I was afraid that NBC would give me some sort of restraining order and I wouldn’t be allowed back.

tonight show 4We got home in time to watch the show with Jada and the Backstreet Boys that we originally thought we were attending. I was honestly confused by the Backstreet performance in chicken suits, but it was overall a good show. The following night was when the show we saw aired, and of course I had it turned on to watch. Seeing Jimmy’s “hello” to us back on screen was awesome, and you can see my friend and me at the very very end during the credits as well.

Definitely check out the episode (again, aired on Friday, January 25th, 2019) and for sure put your name in to try to get tickets to go to a taping of Jimmy as well!

Thanks for reading.

Coming Out: An Update

Wow. You all really showed up for my last post, huh? I mean, I post links to this blog all the time and I’ve never gotten the buzz that I did last week. A whopping ten people felt compelled to click and read what I had to say about JVN, but over one hundred of you wanted to get the details once it got super personal. I guess everyone wants in on the spilled T.

Let me just say that my parents are very understanding and open-minded people, and I never for one second thought that this was going to be an issue in my family. Truthfully, I was very much under the impression that they probably already knew. I had been playing with the idea of “coming out”, not even knowing if I felt the need to. This never felt like some deep dark secret to me, so I didn’t feel like I had to make some grand announcement.

Well, apparently that’s what I did last week.

When I wrote that post, I wasn’t thinking about who would read it – I know what my stats usually looked like, and there’s not often a lot of traffic. If anything, I thought it would just be helpful for me to write this out and maybe to collect my thoughts and figure out what I wanted exactly. Looking back, I’m regretful that I made that post public before talking to my parents. I think I was just trying to figure things out for myself, and I didn’t think it all the way through. Sitting someone down and telling them about my sexuality didn’t seem like the right thing for me personally to do, but maybe it’s also about who is on the other end of that conversation as well. I certainly didn’t mean for all these conversations to be had without me there.

That being said, I’ve had wonderful conversations with my parents and I feel really good about where things are right now. There was a lot of open dialogue that I knew would be there whenever I was ready to have it. And of course, there was a lot of love that will always be there to make me wildly uncomfortable when directly pointed my way.

So to anyone reaching out to my family members asking if they “are okay”, yeah they’re fucking great, thanks for asking.

To anyone who has reached out to me directly, thank you so much and please know that I really appreciated your words. It was very validating to hear from other bisexuals, and having that support means a lot.

I’ll try not to get on my soapbox about this, but it’s annoying that I had to “come out”. It’s annoying that the default is set to ‘straight’. It’s annoying that I have to tell everyone if it’s different. And it’s annoying that once I do, it’s a hot topic of conversation. I know I’m not a very private person, and I don’t really have secrets of my own. But being bisexual somehow by default gave me this secret that I never even wanted to keep in the first place. I will admit that while I usually love having all of the attention on me, I think I would do things just a little bit differently if I was given a second chance.

This whole experience was truly more than I signed up for. Without meaning to, I made myself feel exposed, uncomfortable, and embarrassed. But now, I also feel relieved, supported, and content. I’m out! And I’m totally done paying my gay dues for now.

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Thanks for reading.

Bisexuality

Hi, I’m Gina and I am bisexual – this may or may not be the first time you are hearing this, but it is most definitely not the first time I have said this.

I’ve known that I was attracted to both men and women from a very young age, even if I didn’t have the terminology for it. I spent most of my youth under the presumption that people are either gay or straight, and there weren’t really any other options. I always liked boys and never had any trouble feeling comfortable around them, so in my head that meant I must be straight. Sure, when I was alone I spent time finding Tumblr videos of girls kissing, but I was kissing boys in real life, so come on I must be straight, right????

If you get super super technical, the first person I ever kissed was a girl. I don’t really consider this my “first kiss”, because we were just little girls playing stupid games and it wasn’t anything meaningful – I may not have even been 10 years old yet. In middle school I started kissing boys and having boyfriends, and I was always a little ahead of my friends in terms of “experience”.

In high school, I had a female friend who I got super close with, got drunk for the first time with, and had my first lesbian experience with. The experience itself was very PG, but this was the first time where I was kissing a girl who was kissing me back and it was intentional – even if heavily influenced by alcohol. After my straight guy friends learned about this, there was a lot of encouragement whenever we were drinking for me to make out with the other girls. I happily obliged of course, but I continued to date guys exclusively. By the end of high school, I had probably kissed just as many girls as I had guys, but I only had experience past that with the guys, and I had never been romantically involved with a girl.

This didn’t change much as I entered college and I continued to be involved with men romantically, but fantasizing about women in my alone time. I was still under the impression that I was straight, I just figured I was more sexually open than most people. I believed myself to be more open in general than most, so I didn’t put too much extra thought into my sexuality as a whole.

Enter the world of Tinder. Tinder became a thing sometime while I was still in college and it was common on my campus. As I set up my profile to start swiping, I was faced with filling out some preferences:

Are you interested in:
○ Men
○ Women
○ Both

Both? OMG. BOTH?! IS THAT AN OPTION?! CAN I DO THAT?!

Both. BOTH!

That’s when things clicked for me. That’s when I stopped thinking that I had to be on one side or the other, either gay or straight, and maybe I could actually sit somewhere on the fence.

I clicked both, and started swiping on both men and women.

For a while, this was just an internal thought. I hadn’t fully identified with the word “bisexual” yet, even if I had rolled it around in my head a few times. Even though I was matching with and talking to girls on Tinder, I wasn’t meeting up with any of them in real life and was instead still spending my time involved with men. I even started dating someone towards the end of college, and I would think to myself, “I’ll explore girls more if/when we break up.” In my head, I had put my sexuality on hold (even though I was still swiping and talking with girls here and there when my boyfriend was being a dick).

By the time we broke up, I was sure that this was something I wanted to explore. I had had plenty of experiences with men, and I wanted to bring my female experiences up to par. I started hooking up with a girl that I had a crush on who was sort of in my friend group and identified as a lesbian. When our friends first got wind that we were a thing, they asked me if I was a lesbian also. This was the first time I said the words out loud: “Nope, I’m bi.”

* Insert fireworks and celebration sound effects here *

Since then, I’ve dated both men and women openly and happily. I spent over a year in a relationship with a man, and now that I am single again I would like to focus more on being with women. I believe my sexuality will always be fluid and I will always pride myself in having an open mind and an open heart.

That’s as much of a “coming out” story as I have so far. My friends have kind of organically learned about it over the past several years as I told them about my involvement with different people. I’m open about it with new people I meet and become involved with. My coworkers all know I am openly bisexual and I even indicated this in my voluntary demographics.

However, I never had that serious sit down with my parents (if you’re reading this – sorry, Mom and Dad!) where I look them in the eye and tell this deep dark secret that I’ve been hiding for years and wait to see if I still have their approval. It’s not like that for me – it wasn’t something I was ever “hiding”, it was something I was still figuring out. I also don’t need anyone’s approval about it, not that I think anyone would really have an issue. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about telling them in some way that was maybe more casual, but it’s been hard for me to conceptualize the right words. There’s a lot of stigma that comes with the word “bisexual” (watch the Hulu show, The Bisexual), and I think this could be potentially difficult to navigate with my parents. That being said, I want to be open and honest with my family. I would also feel bad if they were to learn about it from someone that wasn’t me, making them feel sad that I wasn’t the one to tell them. Maybe I’m dealing with having some feelings of guilt or something, that’s for my therapist to figure out. The point is that I have gotten to a place now where I would like them to know.

So, instead of coming out in some formal way, I’ve been passive aggressively reposting outwardly bisexual things to my Instagram story and allowing my family to view them. Not kidding – my parents both have Instagrams and see everything that I post and I’ve just been making it semi/extremely obvious:

 

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Am I being too subtle?

So yeah, that’s my experience so far. To be honest, I feel pretty good about it overall. And I’m excited about what is to come in the future.

Thanks for reading!

Gendered Languages

As I become more aware of trans issues and stories (and consider myself an active supporter of human rights), I’ve been thinking a lot about language as a whole and how we use it.

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I speak intermediate Spanish (I am not even close to being fluent, but I can communicate a little more than just the basics). Spanish is a gender-based language, which means that almost all nouns are assigned a gender – everything is either masculine or feminine. For example, “la mesa” means “the table”, which is assigned female as indicated by the -a ending, where as “el boligrafo” – “the pen” – is assigned masculine. Other gendered languages besides Spanish include French, Portguese, Italian, and many more.

English is not a gendered language, which is why our main obstacle for trans individuals in terms of language is pronouns. The other words that we use to describe people are gender-neutral for the most part (for example: tall, short, funny, crazy, etc.).

However, for any trans individuals who speak gendered languages, I imagine that they are constantly being reminded of the bi-gender system. In Spanish, if someone wants to describe a trans person as tall, would they say “alto” or “alta”? Short – “bajo” or “baja”? Crazy – “loco” or “loca”? The trans community in gendered languages have to navigate so much more than just pronouns, including adjectives as well.

Then there are some languages, like Chinese, who do not have pronouns at all – the language itself is almost gender-less as a whole. Some of the gender-less features of these languages focus more of the idea of an “it” rather than a “he/she”, which can be either helpful or problematic depending on how you look at it. To be honest, this isn’t something I have a whole lot of knowledge about but would be really curious to learn.

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Like I said, this is a topic where I have some knowledge to gain. If anyone has experiences in this area with languages other than English, I’d absolutely love to listen! All of this sparked a lot of interest for me as I hear more stories of trans experiences and how they might differ from not just person to person, but also place to place.

Thanks for reading.