The Many Dark Sides of Playboy

I’ve had a longstanding fascination with Playboy and the incredible women who seemed to thrive within the Empire, but my views have recently been rocked. After watching the A&E docuseries “The Secrets of Playboy”, I feel physically ill thinking about how much I idolized a franchise that existed to actively hurt women so badly and brutally.

The events outlined in the docuseries were so horrific that I don’t even know where to start. Actually, let’s start with a massive trigger warning for what comes ahead. There was grooming and manipulation of young women, undelivered promises and outcomes for their work, poor working conditions, unfair pay, contracts signed under duress, images promoted on unapproved platforms such as porn sites, and so much more. And those were the women who got off easy. For others they were drugged, raped, sodomized, humiliated, and all of it was often photographed or filmed. Hef was able to make generations and generations of women do exactly what he wanted because of the fear of leaked footage and images he held in his possession of unspeakable things happening to these women while under various stages of influence. Women who suffered his abuse often turned to drugs or even suicide – making the average rate of suicide among Playmates 40% higher than the national average for American women overall at the time.

This is still unfortunately just scratching the surface of things. The abuse went from the Playmates (and potentials) all the way to the executives – because even the female executives were fair game for Hef’s circle. Miki Garcia speaks out most notably in the docuseries and speaks of her mistreatment, multiple assaults (one from a fellow executive), and the abuse she tried to get the other women out of. Speaking of, the “shadow mansions” were specifically designed as pimp circles belonging to Hef’s friends, essentially to exploit the women who did not make the magazine. There’s so much more darkness that is so deep and so layered that I could never successfully recount all the awful details and stories. All of these women suffered so many levels of physical and emotional abuse.

And let’s not forget the girlfriends. They were not only also sexually assaulted – often forcibly, but also manipulated into agreeing to sexual situations that made them uncomfortable. Sondra Theodore is my new hero and is the focal point of the new series. She speaks openly, with sadness and regret, and in hope that she can finally speak her truth. She wants to encourage others to do the same, and be a “voice for the women who suffered the most at this hands.” The things Hef did to her was awful – using her body, coercing her into orgies, making her a drug mule, and even forcing her to watch him rape other women. She also outlines things that Hef disclosed to her that were truly shocking – such as the time she walked in on Hef having sex with their dog, or when he and his friends drugged a famous pornstar named Linda Lovelace and forced her to give oral sex to a German Shephard while they all watched and filmed. What Hef put Sondra through was barbaric and a level of psychological manipulation that no 19 year-old could have known she was getting herself into.

Hef did not see these women as people, but as a tool, a bargaining chip, a reward… property. He mistreated them, allowed and encouraged his friends to mistreat them, and created an environment where he could hide it all and silence anyone who dares to speak of it. He did not value or appreciate women, but rather thought he deserved whatever he wanted from them. The abuse these women ensured was boundless.

The craziest thing is that even though there are countless victims and witnesses coming forward on screen – there are still plenty of people who still defend Playboy. I recently was listening to a podcast that I will absolutely not give mention to, where two washed-up former Playmates called the victims “liars”, simply because it had not happened to them. The way that they discredited these very real stories was so disgusting, and they are not the only ones. It’s honestly really disappointing to see a lack of women supporting each other, but a lot of them are of the catty-women generation that I’m glad is no longer the norm. (I did listen to one podcast prior to watching the docuseries that started to highlight the darkness behind Playboy – even some of the same victims spoke on both mediums. The podcast was called “Power: Hugh Hefner”, and covers other problematic influential men, and I actually would recommend the listen to the Hef episodes.)

My own history with Playboy actually started with I was in high school and read Jennifer Saginoir’s memoir, Playground. Her story of growing up in the Playboy mansion (her father was Hef’s BFF) and the events that transpired as a result lured me into learning more about Hef’s world. I became obsessed with the women of Playboy, was admittedly a huge fan of the franchise, and continued to read more books on the fantasy land, such as Izabella St James’ Bunny Tales, Holly Madison’s book of course, and even ones written by other women who worked for Playboy Enterprises.

I’ve even recently read The Bunny Years by Kathryn Leigh Scott, which was a collection of the stories of the women who worked in the infamous Playboy clubs in the 60’s. However, it is hard to read anything Playboy related after knowing all of the darkness that existed behind the scenes. It’s awkward and eerie to see Bunny after Bunny make the same excuses.. “there are other clubs that have skimpy uniforms, too” .. “I was making more money than other women those days” .. “Hef was always so nice to me!’ .. etc. etc. etc. But knowing the unsafe environment that was provided to the women working in the clubs (not to mention the pressure from all sides to act and present themselves a certain way and the actual assaults that were hidden) it makes this book feel more like a way to try and save face.

The Bunny Years

A major focus of the book was Gloria Steinem and her stint as a Playboy Bunny for journalistic purposes. She wrote a tell-all article for Show Magazine titled “A Bunny’s Tale”, outlining her short experience as a Playboy Bunny working on the club floor, where she posed under a fake name to expose the Bunny conditions. Her article outlined her experience being objectified during the interview process as well as tough working conditions for little pay. This was even turned into a movie with the same name starring Kirstie Alley, and Steinem has republished the article with the title, “I Was A Playboy Bunny”. The movie is actually decent if you like super cheesy 80’s movies! Despite making the experience seem demeaning and career damaging, the movie does show her actually sympathizing and sticking up for the women. There’s even a really fun scene of the bunnies doing a burlesque number for each other and joking around in a very sisterhood/sorority kind of way. Regardless of the whimsy in the film, the article still outlined a job full of misery and unfairness. The women working in the clubs clearly felt some type of way about the way they were portrayed, and I believe used their voices in Kathryn Lee Scott’s book to mention the slight they felt from Gloria. I can’t help but wonder if things like this book and other PR stunts were used to rehab Playboy’s image when conveniently needed.

I believe that everything Hef did was for perception purposes. He cared about his image above all things. I think that the humiliation he felt as a result of infidelity in his formative relationships made him react with overcompensation. He created not just the Playboy image and lifestyle, but committed himself to living it. He wanted to be the walking emblem, the permanent mascot, the guy that everyone wanted to be. He lived in this excess and grandiosity as a defense mechanism for how small he felt inside.

While he may have been fond of the women in his life, I don’t believe he actually cared about them overall. His girlfriends were his business, and his business was his lifestyle, and none of it can be separated. He chose women who looked or acted the part and he made them feel wildly special. He would love-bomb them, which is actually common in early stages of abusive relationships. He made these women feel unique to him, even though they weren’t. In the 50’s and 60’s he was cheating on his girlfriends unapologetically, but by the 70’s and 80’s had made this practice more open and known, even if not accepted by all his partners. By the end of his marriage in the 90’s, he created the idea of a “party posse” – meaning a group of girlfriends that would all intertwine, mingle, and of course, turn heads in a crowd. I call this his “gimmick dating”, as he always wanted to have an edge. Like when he dated twins Mandy and Sandy Bentley alongside Brande Roderick – having a double gimmick of both twins and girlfriends with rhyming names. In the phase of Tina Jordan as the main girlfriend, there was a rotating group of 7 or more girlfriends who all looked relatively the same. These women would date Hef, appear in the magazine, and then move on – leaving room for new flavors of the month. While everything appeared to be fun and games, there was a huge amount of manipulation going on, including often pinning the women against each other to start drama and fights. The environment was often toxic and controlling, and of course came with lots of rules. There certainly was a lot of fun to be had in the mansion, but the girls were not made aware of the true costs.

What’s also interesting is that Hef did not end his relationships, but rather made life miserable enough for each woman until they saw no choice but to leave and move on. (This excludes the women in his “Party Posse”s who were kicked out for breaking the rules, of course.) And somehow, he managed to get each ‘former girlfriend’ (he never called them ex’s) back for holidays and reunions, because everything is so incredibly layered that on some level he convinces them that in the end, they are family. He wanted to stay in their good graces, probably as some form of damage control or an insurance policy. If these women were still on his side, they couldn’t go against him.

It’s never been a secret that the women are what made Playboy what it is. Time after time, the women of Playboy have kept Hef relevant and trendy and out of hot water. We saw this when Christie Hefner was made the CEO of Playboy Enterprises during the height of their feminist pressure. We saw this when he made virgins and Baptists and girls from the bible belt Playmates when Meese Commission put their spotlight on him. We saw this when he used Rebecca Armstrong for his political image and stance on AIDS, which was wonderful for Rebecca, but life and safety at the mansion did not change. It’s all for public show. Again, we saw this when his girlfriends kept him in the headlines and on the VIP list to LA’s hottest clubs, contrasted with when he married Kimberly Conrad just as the mansion parties were starting to get out of control. Every woman provided Hef with an angle he could use for his own image and personal gain. And in the early 2000’s, Hef’s trio of girlfriends brought him to relevancy again with the hit E! TV show, ‘The Girls Next Door’.

The show ran for six seasons, and I own every single one of them on DVD. The first five seasons highlight girlfriends Holly, Bridget and Kendra – a trio, which was smaller than Hef had been known for at the time. But the three blondes by Hef’s side was more digestible for the audience, especially since the show was created with a relatively family-friendly vibe. Aside from the occasional boob, the calmness of everyday life at the mansion seemed to be in contrast to stories heard about the crazy atmosphere from the 70’s, 80’s and even 90’s proceeding the current trio. This made the Playboy lifestyle once again marketable, this time for primetime TV.

The show itself was enjoyable because of the personalities that Holly, Bridget and Kendra brought to the screen. My favorite episodes always included their photoshoots or other behind-the-scenes insight, like when the girls had a cameo in the movie ‘The House Bunny’. The dynamics of the girls changed over the years, but their roles on the show for the most part stayed the same:

  • Holly Madison was shown as the one who was obsessed with Hef. While they showed her actual personality from time to time, her main role was to love and tend to and care for Hef. They didn’t emphasize too much tension between her and the other girlfriends, but as a viewer, we are supposed to root for Holly and Hef to make it in the end. In reality, Holly is a very sweet and unique girl who longed for a sense of belonging and thought she found it in Playboy.
  • Bridget Marquardt has always confused me; while she was in her 30’s during the filming of the show, she sometimes acted the most like a little girl. She often wore her hair in pigtails coupled with frilly costumes and was always shown crying when she didn’t get what she wanted. This wasn’t done in a tantrum kind of way, but almost to make Bridget look like this sad girl whose dreams haven’t come true yet. Hef, of course, was withholding these dreams from her of becoming a playmate, and wants to look like the hero on camera when she finally gets the spot. Bridget’s gentle demeanor seems genuine, while overall naïve. I can’t lie though – I live for her level of campiness.
  • Kendra Wilkinson was everyone’s favorite – the sporty, party girl who was hot, young, and just wanted to have a good laugh. She was often shown as non-conforming, wanting to be seen as different and not so girly like the rest of her co-stars. Watching the show, she seems the least interested in Hef, but brings most of the entertainment. She had continued success in reality TV post-Playboy, but has also been quiet after the recent docuseries, which raises questions for me.

When the show was in its popularity, the girls put a book together; I would classify it as a coffee table book. The success of their show was evident, and it was portrayed as a project they all felt very passionate about. Who knows the truth now, but it’s stocked with photos, behind the scenes info, favorite recipes, and more.

I have to admit that I did not go in with the right mindset the first time that I read Holly Madison’s book. I still had on my rose-colored glasses about Playboy, and I was a big fan of Kendra’s – like many people. Holly doesn’t speak highly of Kendra in her book, nor Hef, nor her experience in the mansion overall. She wrote the book to come clean about her feelings so that she could stop putting on a fake face when asked questions post-mansion life, and a lot of people saw her words as hypocrisy at the time – myself included. After all, we had watched hours and hours of television where Holly is seemingly in love with Hef and having a great life. After having my eyes opened to the dark side of Playboy, I decided to read her book again with a fresh mind.

I was obviously more inclined to believe her in the second read, but Holly also took a lot more accountability than I remembered, and I found that she was actually super transparent. Don’t get me wrong, she does throw a lot of shade, including to co-star Kendra, but most notably to the “Mean Girl” girlfriends who of course included Tiffany Holiday (known in the book as antagonist “Vicky”) and Izabella St. James. Izabella’s book actually included a lot of overlap in the mansions cast of characters, although Izabella did mostly speak pretty decently of her experience in the mansion. They both mention how petty Hef could be and how he loved to pin the girls against each other or find other ways to manipulate them. For example, Izabella St. James mentions how the girls would have to ask Hef individually for their contracted weekly allowance, during which he took that time to air out any current grievances he had with the girls and start up new drama. Both Holly and Izabella also give a peak behind Hef’s “bedroom routine”, which of course was mostly for show by this point. Obviously Hef was known for his sexual adventures, but being well into his seventies and eighties now, I imagine that his stamina was a little off – even with Viagra. While his bedroom did not seem as glamorous as it had once been made out to be, women still made their way up there – in fact were even expected to do so if they were testing for the magazine. However, it’s noted that while girls did have technical intercourse with Hef, it was mostly for show and girls were mainly faking their way through sexual interactions with both Hef and each other. The bedroom routine slowed when the seven-girlfriend party posse became the GND trio, and Holly even said she didn’t push girls into Hef’s room to spare them what she went through. Many through this was jealously, and Holly didn’t mind what people thought as long as it scared the girls off.

Holly has been quoted saying that Hef was incorrectly portrayed on the show as a warm grandfatherly figure, coming in to catch up on the antics of his girls. In previous years, Hef had used his Playboy fame and the magazine as a way to control the women, who of course all wanted to be a Centerfold. For Holly, Bridget and Kendra, they knew by not not to expect the promises when it came to pictorials, and so Hef was able to use the show as his new ammo. It was clear that the show as never about Hef but rather about the women that surrounded him. Even the special and guest characters on the show were women, such as the trash that is Mary O’Connor. Mary was portrayed as a nice and innocent grandmotherly house guardian figure, which degusts me to know now how involved she was with keeping Hef’s status quo of manipulation. Mary is thankfully dead now, but was known for responding to girls who confided in her or came to her for help with a simple, “if you don’t want to be here, some other girl will.” Somehow, Holly actually spoke very highly of Mary in her book, which truly shocked me. Holly must have been spared of Mary’s manipulation or perhaps somehow still oblivious to it, which I find strange. Another reoccurring face on the series was the eccentric and former girlfriend, Barbi Benton, who I am surprised has not come forward to speak out against Hef. However, she was always clearly obsessed and overly involve with Hef, having even lost her virginity to him, so I can’t be too surprised that she would still have his back even after everything that has surfaced.

Hef has a pattern of finding young girls who come from a not-great home life and grooming them into participating in the lifestyle he has created for himself and his friends. However, something that I found interesting is that the girls’ families were regularly featured in the first five seasons of ‘the Girl’s Next Door’. Kendra’s mom was a fan favorite, Bridget’s parents were frequent visitors and her brother’s deployment was even a plot point for an episode, and who could forget the shade of red that Holly’s dad turned at the luncheon where Barbi Benton sat on his lap! While the success of the show was due to the women, Hef was continuously using the women for the narration of his own image – it was all to make him look good.

Season six of ‘The Girls Next Door’ was a shift that viewers were not expecting. In fact, when the show was renewed for the sixth season, it was planned to focus on a quieter mansion life between just Holly and Hef. I think most of the audience expected Holly and Hef to eventually get married, but instead they had a rather awkward fallout. The transition itself happened off screen, where Kendra first decides to leave the mansion. I’ve learned now that she was already pregnant during this time with Hank Baskett’s baby, who Holly has claimed in her book was the “only ‘side boyfriend’ to ever stick around”. Honestly, what Hef knew of this at the time is still super unclear to me. On screen, they play this transition off like Kendra leaves because she just met someone new, not that she had been cheating on Hef for a while. Bridget’s exit is also a little unclear – she says she’ll be gone for a while for a project, but never returns as a girlfriend, which leads to a lack of closure, honestly. The reality is that after Kendra and Bridget left, Holly found Hef to be too unmanageable and abusive on her own, leading to her departure soon after. The process of her leaving the mansion took months, during which Hef repeatedly begged her to stay, even using season six of the show as a bargaining tool for staying, thinking that if she doesn’t stay for him maybe she would stay for the show. He even went as far as to leave out a copy of his will for her to find, which stated that if she still lived at the mansion at the time of his dead, she would receive $3 million. Regardless of the offers, Holly moved out and made her way to Vegas. Much of this is kept off screen in case Holly had accepted offers to come back to the show, which left the timeline murky but made room for the new girlfriends and their stories on screen.

Kristina and Karissa Shannon, the twins who move in next and are featured in season six, have recently also spoke out on the A&E series. Holly actually doesn’t speak wonderfully about them in her book, though I wonder if she has changed her tune post-docuseries. The twins were just 18 when they met Hef, who saw them purely as his next schtick. I’ve mentioned that Hef loved a gimmick, and had previously dated the Bentley twins in the “Sandy-Mandy-Brande” girlfriend phase. The Shannon twins were exactly what Hef thought he needed: blonde, naïve, fun-loving, a bad family history, AND there was two of them! Likely convenient, as he saw them all the same anyways. Hef was in his late 80’s when he asked the twins to move in, and when they wouldn’t sleep in bed with him, he told them they needed another girl. The twins then found Crystal Harris, who immediately took the role as number one girlfriend in Holly’s shadow. While the twins only stayed at the mansion for a year and a half, and their ‘Girls Next Door’ season with Crystal only lasted ten episodes, Crystal stayed long enough to marry Hef and become Crystal Hefner. They did have an awkward road to their wedding, including her skipping out on Hef publicly a few days prior to the wedding for one of her side boyfriends, resulting in thousands of dollars down the drain for their disastrous E! special. However, she came crawling back not long after running off, taking the vows and ending up as his third wife after all. Upon Hef’s death in 2017, due to an iron-clad pre-nup, the only thing that Crystal Hefner got to have was his last name. She did, however, receive monetary gifts from Hef prior to his passing, as well as a multi-million dollar mansion. There are current rumors of her writing a tell-all book, and she has reached out after the series to confirm that she had destroyed the tapes and film that decades of women were worried about.

-Holly Madison, Down The Rabbit Hole

As I’ve said before, my fascination with the women of this empire was ever-present, which led to an interest in Mr. Hugh M. Hefner himself. I’ve studied his history, learned his routines, and can even recognize most of his girlfriends by name and face. He had many strange rituals, including the extreme documentation of his life. There are pictures of everyone who has ever came to the mansion, scrapbooks and video tapes of every party, and so much more – all organized neatly into binders and books. At least, there was – I’m not sure where these things are shelved and stored today, outside of the “revenge porn” tapes allegedly destroyed by Crystal.

I recently read Mr. Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream by Steven Watts, and was pleasantly surprised that it was not just filled with admiration for Hef and his empire. This was actually a somewhat unbiased look into Hef’s life, including mentioning a bit of the darkness. The Dorothy Strattan scandal was mentioned – even including the allegations made that Hef had raped her in the grotto. Dorothy even outlined this in an autobiography, and her boyfriend, Peter Bogdanovich, also wrote a book on the abuse Dorothy suffered titled The Killing of the Unicorn, which led to years of sleepless nights from Hef. While I want to reach this book, it’s mysteriously unavailable anywhere I have looked for it… which is particularly interesting considering the public feud that went down the Peter and Hef at the time.

From this book, I learned some new insight into Hef’s troubled mind, including the fact that his “revenge porn” idea was not an original one. During Hef’s first marriage and the beginnings of the magazine, he first started experimenting with orgies and homosexuality, and had group sex with two of his friends and five females. His friends took a few pictures of him with two of the women, and later played a prank on him using the pictures. They made it seem as though they were being sent to him with a blackmail amount of $500, and the friends said that Hef turned so white that they immediately stopped the joke. He must have remembered this feeling and used this idea to ensure he had all the power over others in the future.

It was no secret that Hef had an affinity for women of a certain age, and his may have been hereditary. When Hef was young, his grandfather was charged with statutory sexual assault on four accounts of three girls aged ten and eleven. Hef apparently had a confusing reaction to his grandfather’s legal troubles, excusing this behavior as a result of sexual repression. He did not demonize his grandfather for his actions, but rather sympathized with him and attempted to understand. While Hef may not have been going for women quite this young, he still blurred lots of lines. He allowed women to pose naked for the magazine at the age of seventeen, but just did not release the pictures until after they turned eighteen. He often dated women who were freshly eighteen, even when he was well into his eighties. While many people saw him with groups of beautiful woman and saw him as an idol or “the man”, Hef was actually a pedofile.

What Hef really was, was an absolutely disgusting and pathetic monster. His story revolves entirely around the women in his life, and it has become wildly apparent to me that he would be nothing without them. Hef can hide behind this idea of sexual revolution and freedom, but it all stems from the hurt he felt when women in his youth were not faithful to him. He took this out on young women for the rest of his life as a result, which begs the question on how he even feels about women. Does he even enjoy the company he keeps? Is it all for show? If so, who is he trying to impress?

The answer is of course, other men. If you study men who treat women so poorly, they often show signs of not giving a shit about women as a whole at all, alluding to possible repressed feelings of homosexuality. They care about the status and respect they get from other men – especially as a result of their sexual conquests with women more so than women or the act itself. This obsession with status gained rather than genuine enjoyment of experiences is even more clear when you hear of the mansion bedroom routines, during which Hef was often known to be more of a voyeur than an actual participant. During his old age, this may not have been surprising, but it was a pattern that started in decades prior. Hef certainly went through exploratory phases, to the point of crossing boundaries into beastiality. He often excuses this exploration as a part of the sexual liberation of the 70s, including using this to explain the copious amount of massive orgies.

Throughout the years, you can find Mark Saginor by Hef’s side. (In the 90’s documentary made, titled “Inside the Playboy Mansion”, you can see Mark in the interviews speaking about Hef just as many of the girlfriends mentioned in both Izabella’s and Holly’s books are as well.) Once known as Dr. Saginor, nicknamed “Dr. Feel-Good”, Mark is the father of Jennifer Saginor, whose book I mentioned and who is a main speaker on the A&E docuseries. Mark Saginor was just as disgusting as Hef, with the added benefit of unlimited pharmaceuticals at his disposal. Mark was largely responsible for the drug accessibility in the mansion, often housed Hef’s ‘rejects’ in the abusive “shadow mansions”, and was deeply involved in the abuse distributed over the years. Jennifer does not paint her father in a good light in her book, Playground, and exposes some of the abuse and paranoia he inflicted on her growing up, but she saved one big detail for the A&E series. Jennifer believes that her father was the love of Hef’s life – and I believe her.

Hef and Mark Saginor were inseparable for decades, working together to emulate the Playboy lifestyle. While the women around Hef were always replaceable, Mark stayed consistent. Mark Saginor actually broke up his own family and left his own practice just to be closer to Hef, and even had a room inside the mansion where he resided for a long time – just down the hall from Hef and the girlfriends. Some might have seen him as a brother to Hef, but many knew it was more. It’s been noted that both men participated together in orgies at the mansion, and its speculated that these were formed for an opportunity for the men to be closer. Lines were certainly blurry, but when a drug issue left Playboy exposed, Hef let Mark take the fall. At the time, Jennifer couldn’t understand the level of emotion Mark was experiencing as a result of this fight, because she wasn’t understanding this fall-out as the break up that it was. Mark was notably depressed during the separation from Hef, but their friendship was actually rekindled for the remainder of Hef’s life. In fact, Mark Saginor was the one holding Hef when he died. Sounds fucking romantic to me.

Hef was not a good person. He was not a role model, nor an icon, nor a legend. He was a rapist, a pedofile, an abuser, and a manipulator. He was weak inside, but he had power that he used to inflict decades upon decades of pain. A power, by the way, that he only achieved through women. Hef built his entire empire off of Marilyn Monroe’s pictures, and yet never paid her directly or even met her to my knowledge. And yet, he insisted on being buried beside her for all of eternity, and we have no idea whatsoever if that’s something that Marilyn would have wanted or not.

My fascination with Playboy has obviously shifted. What used to be a feeling of awe and amazement that you get when entering an amusement park has changed to the uncomfortable curiosity of not being able to look away from a train wreck. My love for Playboy has been put to rest, as I can now see it for the damaging cult that it was. However, I will redirect the love to all the amazing women who carried Playboy throughout the years.

Overall, my heart goes out to the many women who suffered the abuse of Hugh Hefner and Playboy Enterprises. These women are beautifully complex and brave survivors. I admire them, respect them, and I hope for some justice. While there may be beauty hidden in their stories, I can only wish that they find some sort of peace in their recovery from all the darkness.

Thanks for reading.

VOTE! (By Mail)

vote 4The election this year is HEAVY – for many reasons. 2020 has been a shit-show of a year, and we have not had the proper administration to handle the state of the world. As a result, voting is more important than ever. The pandemic obviously makes this election problematic, so please make sure you utilize your resources to vote safely.

Today is voting day for Arizona, but I’ve already sent my ballot in by mail. You can visit the @votesaveamerica Instagram for all kinds of voting resources, including information and deadlines for voting by mail.

vote 1

You can also request a mail-in ballot and get more information on your state, visit vote.org or usa.gov. To stay informed and to see what’s on your ballot, you can visit ballotpedia.org rockthevote.org, or vote411.org.

Thanks for reading.

What Is Your Vote Saying?

What is your vote saying?

If your daughter/sister/mother was sexually assaulted, would you vote their molester/rapist into the white house?

If your race was being heavily discriminated against, would you vote someone into office who contributed to the problem?

If your right to love, marry, and start a family was at risk, would your vote go to someone who does not support your lifestyle?

If your family was being ripped apart, deported unfairly, or kept in detention centers, would you vote for the man trying to eject you and your loved ones?

What makes all these things worth it for you? Money? Taxes? The right to bear arms?

I honestly want to know why anything would take priority for your vote over human rights.

Maybe it’s easy for you to justify, because you aren’t personally affected. But that’s incredibly selfish, and you are voting for hate.

Nothing like the above should be worth your vote when huge groups of people are suffering in so many ways.

Think about what your vote says. If you vote for Trump, here is what you’re saying:

You’re okay with women being sexually harassed. You’re okay with black people being racially profiled and harmed unfairly. You’re okay with LGBTQ+ rights being taken away. You’re okay with Mexicans and other non-white races being deported unjustly. You’re okay with injustice and collusion in your government. You’re okay with bullying and immature name calling representing our country. You’re okay with hate existing in America.

Think about your female, black, queer, trans, and immigrant friends and loved ones. Would they be proud of you?

This isn’t about your political party. It’s simply about human rights and equality.

Please think long and hard about where your vote is going this year. Think about what your vote is truly saying. Think about what side of history you want to be on.

Thanks for reading.

FuckTrump-Alex_Shannon

How Can I Help? By Kayla Danielle #BLM

Honestly, I don’t want to take up too much time here, because my voice is not the one that matters right now. Instead, I want to provide a link to a post by an absolutely beautiful soul with some great resources to support this movement.

Please stop and read the below link and explore the resources that have been provided:

How Can I Help? By Kayla Danielle 

You can find her blog link here: http://kayladanielleblog.com/
and can follow her on Instagram @kayla.greenx.

**Please do not scroll forward until you have clicked and explored the above links.**

 

I promise to continue to do my part to educate myself, show up, speak out, and incite positive change. Here are some pictures from the events I’ve attended:

Black lives matter.

Thanks for reading.

VOTE! (The Democratic Primaries)

vote 000I’m gonna be pretty honest here: I’ve been really frustrated with politics lately. It’s no secret that I really hate the current state of our country, and if you follow me on Instagram, I’m sure you know my distaste for our current president. While I have hope that we can someday get back to a place where the country is not so severely divided, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Unfortunately, I truly don’t have a whole lot of hope for this election, and it’s actually really bumming me out. After the impeachment was acquitted, I really lost a lot of hope in our country ever being anything other than this extreme version of bipartisan. People are just blindly following their party, regardless of anything that is happening in the world. I know how important this election is, and I would love to see literally anybody besides Trump take office. However, my hopes are not high.

Sometimes I sit and think, ‘it probably doesn’t even matter if you vote. Vote, don’t vote, whatever.’ Sometimes my hope for the country goes entirely out the window. Sometimes I feel embarrassed to be an American, and I doubt that the upcoming election will change that. I realize that it might be controversial to say this and to be so unpatriotic, but this is how I am feeling. When I see an American flag these days, I just associate it with prejudice, bigotry, and injustice. I constantly dream about saying “fuck it” and leaving America. If you can find pride in our country, that’s wonderful. But my hopes are low and my spirits are lower.

Character illustration of people with vote iconsThat being said, I’ll still be voting. The Democratic primaries are beginning their elections, and we have to go vote to keep hope alive. The 14 states voting today are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia.* I’ll be voting in Arizona on March 17th, along with Florida, Illinois, and Ohio. March holds voting dates on the 10th and 24th as well for roughly 7 other states. 10 more states will be voting in April, 6 in May, and 5 more in June.*

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To stay informed, see what’s on your ballot, or to find your polling place, you can visit Ballotpedia.org rockthevote.org  , or vote411.org .

Happy voting.
Thanks for reading.
*The 14 states voting today, 
According to the Wall Street Journal

*Other state voting information provided by 
The National Conference of State Legislatures

VOTE! (The Off-Year)

Vote Nov. 5 - ColorDon’t think that off-year elections are important? Wrong! Every single election is extremely important and is an opportunity to exercise your right. Policy changes start at the local level, and you have to back the individuals who are working for what you believe in. Getting involved in every single election, even off-years, ensures that you have a say in those who are working not just in the White House, but in your state and city as well.

Vote Nov. 5 - ColorDon’t think your vote makes a difference in off-year elections? Wrong! This is the time when voter turnout is typically the lowest, raising the importance of each and every vote. In most major cities, fewer than 15% of the population show up to cast a ballot for mayor – and most are from one demographic. More voter turnout, especially in minority groups and young adults, can drastically change the results of the elections.

Vote Nov. 5 - ColorDon’t know what’s included on a ballet for an off-year election? No problem! There are so many resources that can help you learn what to expect when you go to vote. Ballotpedia.org prompts you to enter your address to see exactly what will be included with each election. You can also use sites such as rockthevote.org and vote411.org to educate yourself on who and what you would like to vote for. You can also use these sites to find your polling place, or other mail-in options as well.

Here in Tucson, I’m excited to be voting on a new FING VOTEmayor and councilmen. We will also be voting on sanctuary city status and pay raises for city officials.

See you at the polls!

Thanks for reading.

The Sandy Hook Promise

sh3As I’ve been watching different shows via apps on my phone while at my desk, I’ve seen a couple of impactful commercials regarding back to school safety. Because school shootings are such a relevant issue within America, there’s a lot more safety concerns for students than ever before. From elementary schools to college campuses, the fear of active shooters is real.

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The commercials featured different items that children received for back to school needs, while scenes of a school shooting play out in their surroundings. A skateboard is used to break a window to escape, and a young girl in hiding is able to text her mom from her new phone to say “I love you”. This truthfully doesn’t seem overly dramatic of actual events that have and could happen any day in the U.S. One of my coworker’s son’s school was closed last week due to a possible shooting threat. The fear is honestly real. To read 16 facts about gun violence and school shootings provided by the Sandy Hook Promise, click here 

 

The Sandy Hook Promise is a non-profit organization that is working to provide programs and practices that protect children and prevent more less. This is in an effort to honor all the victims of gun violence, as the organization was founded by families affected by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school that took place on December 14th, 2012. The Sandy Hook Promise is above-the-politics, focusing on the “human side” of the issues by building a movement of schools, families, and community organizations.

sh5They are building a national base, organizing at a community level, developing and delivering mental health and wellness programs, and advocating for state and federal policy. Through initiatives within school districts, students can feel more included, everyone can know the warnings signs, and schools can be more safe overall. For news and information on their efforts, click here or visit their website.

I don’t have kids, and I don’t plan on having kids, but that does not mean that I cannot get involved to help stop school shootings and other events of gun violence. Sandy Hook is working to end mass shootings, and I have signed their petition and promised to share their message as well. #ProtectOurKids

sh1You can find more information on their website at SandyHookPromise.org. Here you can review their plans, know the signs, and learn how to get involved. You can also help to share their message through social media and videos, and you can also sign the petition to take action. Donations can also be made, as every little bit helps make an impact in the real world.

Thanks for reading.

March For Our Lives Peace Plan

My journey with gun reform started with the March on Washington last year, has been continued through March For Our Lives resources and other organizational support as well, and the issue continues to be a prominent problem in America.

mfol

I got a message from March For Our Lives on August 21st, announcing their “Peace Plan for a Safer America”. This plan includes a comprehensive agenda on ending the problems with gun violence in the U.S.

mfol2“Created by survivors, so you don’t have to be one.”

mfol3

When I first got the text notification about the peace plan and went to visit the site, it had crashed and went offline. Of course many news outlets had already picked up the story and information for me to immediately find, but I feel that the crash is promising and shows the high level of interest on the topic. Maybe I’m just being optimistic, but most American’s actually do agree on many details of gun reform.

unnamedWaiting for policy changes is a slow moving process, and the organization is focusing on what we can do to help push the agenda to make America safer. While many policymakers are simply offering thoughts and prayers,  the Peace Plan is instead addressing the issue head on, by demanding bold C.H.A.N.G.E.:

Change the standards of gun ownership
Halve the rates of gun deaths in ten years
Accountability for the gun lobby and industry
Name a National Director of Gun Violence Prevention
Generate community-based solutions
Empower the next generation

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The Peace Plan is ambitious, forward thinking, and worth fighting for. The idea is shift power away from the NRA so that all types of gun violence can be addressed: from suicides and accidental shootings to gun violence and shootings driven by hate.

To sign the petition, donate to the cause, or learn more information, visit MarchForOurLives.com or click here for a direct link to the Peace Plan.

Thanks for reading.

Guns In America

4My stance on gun violence and gun control reform is no secret, and after the shootings this weekend in El Paso and Dayton, I’m deeply saddened. I absolutely do not support our president and the awful things he says. I just don’t think it’s okay that a president can spew such racist remarks, promote hate, and be such a bully to individuals that he should be respecting. It’s not okay that this is the face of our country. Because as a result, people think that way of thinking is alright. And then they go and shoot up places that have a high diversity population, and post their white supremacy manifestos online. What’s happening in our country is upsetting, dis-heartening, and embarrassing, and is also a direct correlation to the racist person that we have in office.

*The above are my opinions. You do not have to agree with them. Regardless of race issues, guns continue to be a prominent and polarizing topic in the U.S. Below are some actual facts about guns in America.*

3Guns in America are growing. The number of civilian owned firearms has grown from 170 million in 1990 to 265 million in 2015. Gun-control legislation can help keep everyone safe, as stricter gun-control laws reduce gun deaths – up to 9 times as less. Focus on the types of weapons available can also help, as the the average number of victims in high-capacity weapon shootings is roughly twice as high as shootings where other firearms were used. 

More guns = more deaths from guns. Not only are the gun violence rates much higher in the U.S. than other countries, but the firearm suicide rate is also much hire. We have 8 times the amount of deaths than Canada, 13 times more than France, 20 times more than Australia and 40 times more than Germany.

More guns = more guns being obtained illegally. 40% of criminals with guns obtain them from a street or illegal source, 37% get them from a family or friend, and 11% from a pawnshop, gun show, or other retailer.

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Opinions from gun owners vs. non-gun owners:

  • 89% of both gun owners and non-gun owners support preventing people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns.
  • 82% of gun owners and 84% of non-gun owners support preventing gun purchasing from people on no-fly or watch lists.
  • 77% of gun owners and 87% of non-gun owners support requiring background checks for private gun sales and at gun shows.
  • 54% of gun owners and 80% of non-gun owners support creating a federal database to track all gun sales.
  • 48% of gun owners and 77% of non-gun owners support banning assault-style weapons.

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This information was published in TIME Magazine on November 5th, 2018, and is still extremely relevant today, almost one year later.

“This is America. Guns in my area.” – Childish Gambino, 2018

6To help support the families of the victims of the El Paso and Dayton shootings, donations can be made to the El Paso Community Foundation, Paso Del Norte Foundation, or the Dayton Foundation. (Click here for more information.)

Thanks for reading.

Source: Guns In America: A TIME and JR Project, TIME Magazine.

Support LGBTQ Causes

Looking to get more involved in the LGBTQ+ community? Here are many amazing organizations and causes that are always looking for more support:

 

GLSEN-Safe-InclusiveGLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network): The leading national education organization, promoting anti-bullying through campaigns and gay-straight alliances in schools across the nation. Volunteer or donate at glsen.org or 212-727-0135.

hrc-foundationHuman Rights Campaign Foundation: A civil rights advocacy group who focuses largely on LGBTQ rights, marriage equality, and legislation changes that include hate-crimes and anti-discrimination movements. Volunteer or donate at hrc.org or 202-628-4160.

Lambda LegalLambda Legal: A defense and education fund that supports civil rights and provides legal services for the LGBTQ community as well as individuals living with HIV and AIDS.
Attorney’s can join the Cooperating Attorney Network within the organization, and anyone can volunteer or donate at lamdalegal.org or 212-809-8585.

PFLAGPFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays): An organization that promotes the health and wellness of LGBTW people and their loved ones through support groups and scholarship programs. Sign up or donate at pflag.org or 202-467-8180.

 

SageSage: A social group that provides health services, housing, and employement opportunties for LGBTQ senior citizens. Get involved or donate at sageusa.org or 212-741-2247.

 

Stonewall Community FoundationStonewall Community Foundation: A fundraiser to support LGBTQ non-profits and organizations in NYC, which includes scholarship programs that support refugees and asylum seekers. Donate at stonewallfoundation.org or 212-457-1341.

stonewall initiativeStonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative: The official and only charitable giving organization of the Historic Stonewall Inn, promoting tolerance and acceptance in communities across America. Get more information or donate at stonewallinitiative.org or 646-242-8382.

 

Take Back The PromTake Back The Prom: A DoSomthing campaign where thousands of students share stories and sign petitions to demand change from schools who still have discrimination policies. Students can access the Anxiety Line by texting PROM to 38383, or donate at takebacktheprom.com.

The Trevor ProjectThe Trevor Project:  A confidential hotline that provides crisis and suicide-prevention services, as well as resources for parents and educators. Volunteer to be trained to become a lifeline counselor or volunteer, or donate at thetrevorproject.org or 310-271-8845.

 

Now go get involved! Thanks for reading!

5 LGBT Historical Figures You Should Know

Even though Pride Month has officially ended, it’s still important to remember the people who paved the way for us to celebrate. My company’s internal Pride magazine has continued to show focus on the trailblazers that paved the way for the rest of us. So, here are 5 historical LGBTQ figures that you should most definitely know about:

 

harveymilk460Harvey Milk
The first openly gay elected official in the U.S., Harvey Milk was a civil and human rights activist who served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. His work in advocacy for the LGBTQ community was only beginning when he was assassinated less than just one year in office.

Bayard RustinBayard Rustin
A close adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Bayard Rustin marched with on Washington as a black and gay man to fight for civil rights. He was one of the most effective influencers of the civil rights movement, and was nicknamed “Mr. March-on-Washington”.

Michael_DillonLaurence Michael Dillon
robertaBorn with the name Laura Maud, Laurence Michael Dillon was the first person to undergo FTM gender reassignment surgery.  He was a British physician, but when his story was revealed to the world, he fled to India and became a Monk. Roberta Cowell is also noteworthy, as she was the first to undergo a surgical MTF transition.

Simon NkoliSimon Nkoli
Experiencing extreme discrimination, Simon Nkoli was a South Africa native that was one of the first Black anti-apartheid activists to publicly identify as gay and HIV-positive. He was diagnosed while in prison for protesting, and eventually died of an AIDS related illness.

herculineHerculine Barbin
Assigned female at birth but later reclassified by law as male, Herculine Barbin was the first person to be labeled as intersex. Herculine eventually changed their name to Abel, and died by suicide at the age of 30 after much medical scrutiny.  (Note: There are no confirmed pictures of Herculine Barbin, so the above picture may not be accurate.)

 

gay   Thanks for reading!

For more information on these amazing people, please visit:  
milkfoundation.org/ ;  
kinginstitute.edu/rustin-bayard ;  
http://library.transgenderzone.com/ ;  
www.sahistory.org.za/tseko-simon-nkoli ;  
Herculine Barbin, By Michel Foucault

Gun Violence Awareness Facts

As I’ve said before, I subscribe to different outlets for affecting change in various ways in an effort to support the issues that I wear orange 1care about (see – Trans Awareness Week). March For Our Lives is included in this list, as I also attended the rally in Washington in March 2018, and I continue to get news and alerts from the organization. Since June is Gun Violence Awareness month, I received a text update and was prompted to take a quiz on my knowledge of gun violence. Here are the questions and the information that was shared:*

wear orange 2How many people on average die from gun violence every day?
Answer: 100 people per day – that’s loved ones we’re losing every day because of guns. 

wear orange 2How does the U.S. gun homicide rate compare to other high-income countries?
Answer: It’s 25x higher. This is a uniquely American problem which our leaders have failed to address.

wear orange 2What percentage of Americans support universal background checks?
Answer: 97%. Implementing universal background checks is one way to start addressing these issues. 

Please be aware of which politicians are supportive of what you believe in, and who is fighting to keep our country safe. Also, make sure you #WearOrange on June 7th to support Gun Violence Awareness Month.

Thanks for reading.

*Quiz by March For Our Lives. 
For more information and references, 
visit https://marchforourlives.com/.

VOTE! (The Primary)

For many parts of the country, it’s election day! There have been historical highs in the last couple of elections for voter turnout, specifically in younger demographics and minority groups. Women really showed up for the midterm, voting at higher rates than the men! Most voters reported that they had a positive voting experience, and policies have become priority over partisanship.*vote 3Do you know who and what you’re voting for? There are so many great people looking to run and make a change, so it’s important to know where you are going to lend your support. As always, I know it can be a lot to keep up with, so here’s just a super quick reminder on how to make this easy. 

To find information on your polling place and what to expect on your ballot, I recommend visiting vote411.org and clicking on “Your Voting Guide”. You will be prompted to put in your address to see where to vote, as well as other links and resources. I suggest actually going through your ballot, where you will be asked to claim your party in order to get personalized information on candidates and the issues they are addressing. You will see exactly what you should expect to see at your polling place, but with additional facts and statements from the candidates as well. You can also visit other sites such as ballotpedia.org and rockthevote.org to get accurate and unbiased information on the elections.

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Stay informed! Exercise your right. Show support to issues you care about. And most importantly, make a difference. The polls are open until 8PM, so GO VOTE!

Thanks for reading.

*In a year of record midterm turnout, 

women continued to vote at higher rates than men,
 
and there were historic highs in 2019 across
racial 
and ethnic groups, according to Pew Research Center.

5 Reasons to Watch Pete Buttigieg

PeteEverything that I know about Pete Buttigieg so far has made me a fan of his. As we get to know more and more about the candidates participating in the upcoming elections, Pete is someone from whom I am definitely excited to hear. Here are just some reasons why:

 

chasten1. His Husband 
If Pete were to be elected, this would make him the first openly gay president! This would be a huge milestone for the community, and an amazing push forward for our country. Not to mention, Chasten would make an amazing First Gentleman … or whatever they plan on calling it. They are adorable, so are their dogs, and I am here for the representation.

 

unite2. His Platform
In a time when our nation is divided in such an extreme way, Pete is focusing on what we have in common, and running his platform with the focus on uniting the U.S.. There is so much more middle ground than anyone realizes, and Pete intends to use those common areas to attempt to unify the country. Many other candidates are running on the idea of “fighting the fight”, while Pete is looking to make peace again.

 

military3. His Military Experience 
Pete proudly brags that he has more military experience than his running mates, and many previously elected presidents as well. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserve in 2009, and was deployed in Afghanistan in 2014. He continued to serve as an intelligence officer until 2017. As a potential future Commander-in-Chief, military experience and leadership is obviously extremely important.

 

political4. His Political Experience
While a lot of people did appreciate that Trump did not come from the typical political background, there are others that argue that this experience is vital to the success of a leader in office. Pete has been involved in politics for the majority of his career, and he is currently the mayor of South Bend, Indiana (and has been since 2012). It doesn’t hurt to mention that he is a Harvard College graduate also.

 

personality5. His Personality and Charm
While he is a responsible, stand up politician, Pete is also not afraid to have a good time. He has shown his personality throughout the beginning of this campaign, including doing a fun sketch with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. He knows how to appeal to multiple audiences, and can be trusted to be authentic in various settings. As a millennial, I’m on board.

 

time

I read most of this information from the TIME article that highlighted his campaign, which I definitely recommend checking out. He has also made appearances on other late night TV shows and has had various other press coverage as well. I intend to keep my eye on Pete as he continues to move forward with his political efforts, regardless of where they make take him. You can learn more about Pete by visiting PeteForAmerica.com or following him @pete.buttigieg on Instagram and @PeteButtigieg on Twitter.

“It’s time for a new generation of American leadership.”

Thanks for reading!

 

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.”*

adp pride 2

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.

out and about

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.

UBGC 3

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.

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.

gl1

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.

gl4

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.

Trans Support

Nov 12th – Nov 19th was Trans Awareness Week.trans-rights-are-human-rights-rugs

It’s important to note that I am a cis female (meaning that I identify with the gender that I was assigned to at birth), and while I am also a trans ally and supporter, I cannot speak from personal experience. I do, however, have a very close friend who identifies as non-binary, and have done plenty of research on the topic. I find it significant to be well versed in many areas of the LGBTQ community, as I want to give my support in a variety of ways, including understanding.

Think about a time where you had to wear something that made you uncomfortable. Growing up, I was never very girly, and I hated anything pink or glittery. Wearing something that is bright bubblegum pink with dazzling sparkles was, and is still, one of my worst nightmares. Being forced to wear something like that would absolutely make my skin crawl. I’m sure everyone has something like that, where they wouldn’t be caught dead in it in a million years. Maybe it’s a dress, a suit, something strapless, etc – something that when you put it on makes you go, “this is really not me.” I imagine that this is the feeling that someone has every single day, if they are not living as their authentic self.

My friend who is non-binary uses the pronouns they/them, and doesn’t feel that they fit into a box of either male or female. They were born female, and are currently taking steps to be exactly who they want to be through support of those around them and possibly a top-surgery in the future.

One of the most important and noteworthy things that I have learned through this friendship is that every single person goes on a journey that is entirely different and their own. Each individual who identifies as trans has unique perspectives, desires, and goals. Some may feel that they were born biologically into the wrong gender, while others do not feel that they fit into either category. Just like sexuality, I believe that gender comes on a spectrum, and all of us fall somewhere on this arch. Rather than just checking one box or the other, people are able to fall somewhere in the middle and not be constrained by what is inside of each box.

I subscribe to different outlets for affecting change in various ways in an effort to support the issues that I care about. Planned Parenthood is on this list, and I receive news alerts and updates depending on what is going on during that time. I was prompted via text to take a quiz on my knowledge of trans info and rights, so I decided to give it a go. Here are the questions and information that was shared:*

trans flagTrue or False: The first American to be credited with successfully having sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) was Christina Jorgensen
Answer: True! Jorgensen was drafted by the U.S. Army for WWII. Shortly after, she traveled to Denmark and received special permission for SRS.

trans flagAccording to the 2015 Trans Health Survey, how many self-identified transgender people were there in the U.S.? A: <50k B: 100k to 249k C: 250k to 750k D: > 1 million
Answer: D! Based on a 2015 survey, there are over 1.5 million trans folks who self-identify as trans in the U.S.

trans flagTrue or False: The Affordable Care Act prohibits sex discrimination including transgender discrimination by most health providers and insurance companies.
Answer: True! A guide and other resources on Trans Patient Rights from Natl Center for Trans Equality can be found HERE.

trans flagTrue or False: Our government is trying to block trans people from civil rights protections by defining gender as only male or female based on the genitals you’re born with.
Answer: Sad but true. It erases our trans identities, and people of all gender identities deserve civil and human rights. Trans and gender nonconforming people #WontBeErased.trans heartstrans equality

Please be aware of which politicians are supportive of what you believe in, and who is fighting for basic human rights. Support the LGBTQ community as a whole and ensure that absolutely no one is erased.

Thanks for reading.

*Quiz by Planned Parenthood 


For more information and references, 

visit https://transequality.org/.

 

Election Diversity!!

rainbow waveFor the first time in a long time, I am feeling hopeful about the future and inspired by much of the election results. There is so much to be celebrated, and there are many “firsts” in office. There are a record number of women holding seats in the House and more than 100 LGBTQ candidates that emerged victorious as of Wednesday afternoon.* I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER ABOUT IT. Let’s celebrate these accomplishments and keep this momentum going!!

  • Abby Finkenauer and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest women elected to congress.
  • Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland became the first navtive american women elected to congress, and Sharice is also a member of the LGBTQ community as well.
  • Ilhan Omar and Fashida Tlaib became the first Muslim women elected to congress, and Ilhan will be the first to wear a hijab.
  • Jared Polis became the first openly gay man elected governor in the US.
  • Kate Brown, previously became the first openly bisexual woman elected governor in 2016, was reelected.
  • MANY OPENLY LGBTQ MEMBERS WERE ELECTED INTO CONGRESS, including Tammy Baldwin, Jared Polis, David Cicilline, Sean Patrick Malony, Krysten Sinema, Mark Pocan, Mark Takano
  • Other LGBTQ members of the house include Angie Craig, Chris Pappas, and more.

election

These faces give me hope that the best of times are still ahead of us.

#Wave

Thanks for reading.

Images from instagram @refinery29 @glaad @nowthisnews
Woman and LGBTQ members in office, according to *NBCnews.com

VOTE! (The Midterms)

The past two years has been overwhelming, chaotic, and created a clear divide in our country. If we can look at any silver linings of current events, it’s that the issues that still exist in our country are being brought to the public’s attention. So now, it’s our time to act on it.

The 2014 midterm election had the lowest turn out in over 72 years. The last time voter turnout was this low was during WWII in 1942, when only 33.9% of voters cast ballots. In 2014, only 36.4% of eligible voters showed up at the polls.* And what happened as a result? We ended up with two people on the ballot that a large majority of the country did not want to support. The chaos of the 2016 election was largely due to the fact that nobody was getting involved until it was too late to do anything besides choose your lesser of two evils. However, the turnout for the midterms can large affect the outcome of the general election that will happen in 2020.

As a result of the current administration, more and more activists are getting involved in advocacy to raise awareness on issues such as women’s rights, gun reform, immigration, and more. And with recent events, the LGBT community is standing strong to keep rights as well. Change is happening, and we can see it and feel it everywhere, but it won’t make a difference unless we show up to vote.

If you are feeling overwhelmed because you don’t feel informed, there are so many easy ways to quickly gain the insight you need. By visiting Vote411.org, you can type in your address and get information about who and what is going to be on your ballot. You will get a breakdown of each candidate and what they support, as well as provided with the location of your polling place. Polls are open from 7AM to 8PM today, so there’s still plenty of time to get out there!

You’ve heard it on the news. You’ve heard it on social media. You’ve heard it from your local representatives. You’ve heard it from your friends, family, coworkers, teachers, and everyone else. VOTE. Not just in 2020, vote TODAY. Make sure you have a say. Make sure your voice is heard. Make sure you exercise your right that so many others do not have.vote2So again, I ask – did you vote today?

Thanks for reading.

National Trend 1789-Present

*Only 36.4% of eligible voters voted in [the 2014] midterm elections,
down from 40.9% who voted in 2010. The last time voter turnout was 
that low was 1942, when only 33.9% of voters cast ballots,
according to the United States Elections Project - TIME

Republicans vs. Democrats

Just some super quick thoughts..

Why do we still have a two-party system? Why have we stood by bipartisanship all these years? Could it be possible that this is separating us instead of uniting us?

rvsd

I have so many friends that would consider themselves “Independent”, but we all eventually pick a side just because of how the voting works. Some, like me, chose Democrat, but plenty of others chose Republican. However, I wouldn’t consider our political views super different in all areas at the end of the day.

If you break down things issue to issue, I bet we all have more in common than we think. My parents are Republicans, and we agree on a lot of social issues and are often on the same sides of debates. There’s a lot of overlap that we don’t get to see because of the media, the news, and the president, who are always trying to divide us.

I guess what I’m saying is, you can’t generalize, and that’s what the two-party system does. It has people thinking things like, ‘all Republicans love guns’ and ‘all Democrats are Socialists’ etc. etc. – which may not be true for a wide population of people in those parties. I know Republicans who support gun control reform. I know Democrats who believe in Capitalism. Everyone has their own set of ideas, and it’s not like each party population actually believes and supports all the same things.

Maybe we would be getting a lot more things accomplished if we stopped dividing ourselves. Imagine if candidates ran for office without parties, just standing as themselves and speaking about what they believe in. And anyone who agreed could vote for them. We would probably feel much more united as whole, and we would probably see a whole lot more good happening in our country.

Again, just some quick thoughts. Thanks for reading.

Addiction Support

A lot of misconceptions exist surrounding addicts and addiction. People often consider addiction a choice, saying that it is not a disease. Addiction is genetic, and can be passed down the same as heart disease or cancer. Addiction is a mental illness similar (or in addition to) depression, anxiety, and more. Addiction is a medical condition and needs to be taken seriously.

One of the celebrities that I love and follow celebrated 6 years of sobriety from a substance that he struggled an addiction with. He posted regarding this acheivement and wrote, “Everyday I work hard to stay clean, healthy and aware … it’s an ongoing, full-time  job to stay clean.”

I think it’s important to bring awareness to this community and what they go through. I know that the opioid crisis has been making news over the past several years, but I am talking on a personal level. Internal and external battles happen every single day, and so much of it is wildly outside of their control. Just because you are not actively using does not mean that you are not struggling. I was told once by an addict that addiction is the disease and drugs/alcohol are just the symptoms.

One thing I learned through being close to someone who struggled with addiction is that it is a hard community to be a part of. There is a lot of bad news that comes with being an addict. I heard constant updates about a friend relapsing, someone going to jail/prison, or the worst news of all – someone losing their life. When all you hear is bad news, and you see your friends battle and struggle, I’m sure its difficult to continue on with your own fight.

addition support 1

This is why support for this community is so important. Be kind and understanding. Celebrate victories and achievements. Share stories, quotes or other sources of inspiration. Find reasons to continue the fight, and nurture them.

And most importantly, spread hope. Whether you are an addict yourself or know a friend or loved one who struggles with addiction, or even if you have no experience at all, hope is the most important thing. Hope gives everyone a reason to continue to fight and to overcome obstacles.

I encourage everyone to take the time to educate yourself on addiction and what the journey of recovery looks like. Support those in the community and spread hope for healing.

Remember that every single person on the planet is fighting a battle that you may know absolutely nothing about.

Thanks for reading.

VOTE! (The Primary)

Politics can honestly be extremely overwhelming these days. But, there has been a lot of talk around issues that I care a lot about, so I’ve been doing what I can to follow the next election. I can’t say that I am happy about the social climate that we are living in, so I want to do what I can to make a change. I ‘Marched for our Lives’ in D.C. on March 24th for gun control, I’ve signed petitions to support DACA and related issues, and today, I VOTED.

I think that our country’s bipartisan system is outdated, and whole electoral vs. popular vote thing is super wack. When I was first 18, it made me feel like my vote didn’t actually count at all. I felt small and I didn’t think I could be heard. After I got a little older, there were too many issues that made me passionate and I wanted to be involved. And, I learned that my voice can be heard as long as it’s loud enough.

It truly doesn’t take much to do some quick research into candidates. I subscribe to emails from rockthevote.org and ballotpedia.org to get updates on things like candidates in my party, voting events, and more. Both sites are unbiased, and just reading a couple emails here and there helped me find candidates that support the same issues that I care about. If you are lucky, your city or county might help you out also – so open your mail! I received a handout via snail mail from my district that had a list of running candidates, and a check mark or an X next to different voting issues to indicate which they supported or opposed.

Information is everywhere, so go find it! Then – go vote!

The same sites that I get my information from provide a resource to help me find my polling place. Most voting locations are open 7AM – 8PM, so there is still time to go in the evening even if you can’t make it during the day. Knowing when and where to vote in the Primaries will make things even easier for you to vote in the Midterms in November – and every election day thereafter.

VOTE

Part of my motivation to vote in the primaries comes from being a millennial. Millennials are the largest population of voters, but we have one of the lowest turnouts – especially in the primaries. Current social issues and recent events have made our generation more passionate about the social climate, but nothing will change unless we act on it.

So, did you vote today?

Thanks for reading.

Pay Equity Laws

Pay Equity has been a trending business topic as we move to close pay gaps and promote equality. As a feminist who works in Human Resources, I am a huge fan of this movement. Massachusetts has already passed amendments to make changes, and the amended law will go into affect this July 2018! My hope is that other states quickly follow suit.

These changes can be broken down into three key areas: Salary History Bans, Pay Equity Standards, and Compensation Transparency.

Salary History Bans: The new Pay Equity Laws prohibit employers from asking about an applicant’s salary history before making a job offer. Some employers will calculate their offers based on what a candidate previously got paid, rather than what the position is worth. This can become problematic and is often unfair to employees. With this ban, the position will be worth a static range, and employers will have to move forward with an offer without knowing their previous salary. Employees are free to disclose any information at their own discretion, but employers may not ask until after an initial compensation offer has been made.

Pay Equity Standards: The gender pay gap is something that I have always heard of and been aware of, but this is the first time that I’ve really seen anything being done about it. There are new reporting laws surrounding pay equity that ensure that businesses are doing their social responsibility to address this issue. Companies must engage tools and resources to understand what pay gaps exist in their organization, and they are obligated to take action. Some pay gaps are valid and explainable, and things like tenure, experience, or education will be taken into consideration. Outside of those explainable circumstances, business will legally have to prove that there is an effort being done to close these gaps.

Compensation Transparency: This protects employees to have the freedom to disclose and discuss compensation information with coworkers. It’s crazy to me that employers can discipline employees for discussing their pay with each other – how is this legal?? In my previous position, my company was bringing in new hires at a higher rate than their tenured associates in HR. When I pressed my boss about this, her response was, “technically, you aren’t even supposed to know about that.” Well, that will now be illegal. Employees will now be protected, and if any unfairness is exposed, the company will have to address it. By creating transparency, this ensures consistency across the organization.

In my opinion, if a company sees these changes and has anxiety, that should question the integrity of that organization. These laws are being put into affect to protect employees, and organizations who are already conscious of their employee experience should feel at ease.

Employees should feel protected.

Thanks for reading!

pay-gaps-illustration-800x574_c

Info verified from Mass.gov

Dickey Amendment

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know how I feel about gun control.

Without going too deep into the topic as a whole, the lack of research done on gun violence is alarming.

It’s a fact that the U.S. has a much higher rate of gun deaths than the rest of the developed world*. However, there is almost no federal research available on gun violence in America. Many are blaming this on the Dickey Amendment, which was put in place over a decade ago.

The Dickey Amendment prevented the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) from using a spending bill to “advocate or promote gun control.” As a result, the CDC has avoided researching gun violence, aside from some basic data collection.

The National Rifle Association, of course, had pushed for the amendment. This is not surprising: public-health researchers had published studies suggesting that having a gun in the house increased risk of homicide and suicide*, among other things. The NRA argued that this information was politically motivated, even though these were simply published facts – not advocacy.

The Dickey Amendment is part of the reason that there are massive gaps in what we know about gun violence.*

Last month, Congress gave CDC the “okay” to research gun violence, however, almost no movement has been made. It is likely that the CDC will not begin this research until the amendment is repealed.

GunControl-702a2

CLICK HERE to sign the petition to end the Dickey Amendment. 

Thanks for reading.

Story and inspiration from BuzzFeed News.

The NRA had pushed for the amendment after  
published studies suggested increased risk,
according to The Atlantic.

The Dreamers

DACA-Polictial-Cartoon

Are we really the home of the free?

America has been called a “Nation of Immigrants”. We were founded on the principle that people come here in search of a better life. However, our current leadership has decided that it is now time for America to throw out its values and become exclusive.

I understand that immigrants need to be registered and go through the legal process. I understand that everyone living here needs to pay taxes and follow the law. I understand that immigration needs to be regulated.

That being said, the current policies are evoking a fear across the nation that has striped America of its core values.

We are supposed to be a nation of dreamers. 

“Dreamers” is now the title given to individuals who came into America, illegally, as children. President Obama enacted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which has prevented over 800,000 immigrants from being deported. As a result, the Dreamers were able to get an education, start a career, and live the American dream they’d always hoped for.*

I believe in DACA. I believe that immigrant parents come to America dacapurely to give their children a chance at a better life that they may not have had. I believe DACA protects children who do not even know their “home country”, but instead have always known America as their home.

Now, their future is in doubt. Trump has said during his campaigns that he would not threaten the Dreamers, but he has gone back on this word. The crackdown on immigration has not only ripped families apart, but is also installing fear across America.

DACA+article

It’s just disheartening. I don’t feel proud to be a part of a country that feels so superior to the rest of the world. I don’t feel good about families being torn apart and exclusivity being promoted.

Our founding fathers broke away from their home country to build a new nation and provide a better live for those who followed them. This idea seems basic, and yet it feels like something that is lost.

It feels like America has become a high-class Country Club, and not everyone gets a membership.

Yes, it’s wonderful to live in a country where I am free to write all this and express my opinions as I please. However, it’s also hard to be patriotic when I see so much that I want to change. I pray that one day, America will return to its “melting pot” values, and immigrants will not have to dream in fear.

I stand behind the Dreamers.

Thanks for reading.

*Time Magazine:
We Are Americans - Just Not Legally;
We Are Americans, Revisited - The Dreamers Five Years Later;
Ripped Apart - The Cost of America's Immigration Crackdown

Millennials

Millennials get a bad rep, and I’m ready to call bullshit.

Let’s start by defining the term “Millennial”. We are Generation Y, born between 1981 and 1997*, and today are between 21 and 38 years of age. Also known as “The 9/11 Generation”, we do not know a world without computers, academic pressure, and the constant fear of school shootings. We were raised by Baby Boomers and Generation X. Our parents were nurturing, omnipresent, and have told us over and over again that we are special. We feel like a generation, and we have great expectations for ourselves.*

So, why are millennials given a negative connotation? Why are we isolated and criticized? Why do I constantly feel the need to defend my generation?

Millennials are severely misunderstood. We are criticized for the environment we grew up in and we are blamed to the point where our own members don’t want to be associated with our name. We are classified as “the worst”. We are stupid, unmanageable, unconventional, and of course, entitled narcissists. Apparently, we suck.

Fact: The Baby Boomers are the first “Me Generation”* and all the generations after have simply followed suit. Millennials are also the “Green Generation” because we care more about the environment. We are invested in our health and the wellness of others. We have lower crime rates. We volunteer. We donate. We care about social issues. Millennials have been called “alpha-influencers”. We have been taught that we can and we will make a difference. “Millennials are the largest and most diverse generation and this year we will be the largest voting block.” This was tweeted by Rock the Vote in February of this year.

Yes, we like technology. The digital era is what we are used to. Older generations see this as laziness, because we have found shortcuts and alternatives to the long processes that they have become comfortable with. We see this as innovation and creativity. When someone asks, “Why?”, we ask, “Why not?”. Millennials are resourceful and inventive.

Fact: The Baby Boomers were the first generation who grew up with a television in their homes. This drastically reshaped the media and how news was delivered. Generation X grew up during the computer revolution, and Millennials had the smart phone. All of these advances of technology resulted in a change in how people can connect to the outside world. The world evolves, and so do we.

We grew up in a time of rapid change. We were taught at a very young age that the world is unsafe. Millennials were roughly between the ages of 4 and 20 on September 11th, 2001, and many of us do not know a world without terrorism. We were students who witnessed Virginia Tech, Columbine, and Sandy Hook on the news and had to walk our own school hallways the very next day. We are exposed and aware.

And maybe we aren’t as different as you think.

Fact: Millennials have been nicknamed “Echo Boomers” because of the likeness to their parent demographic. Baby Boomers were taught to cut coupons from their parents who witnessed the Great Depression, and Millennials care less about name brands and more about being thrifty. Both Baby Boomers and Millennials are known as being team-oriented. Baby Boomers embraced the ‘American Dream’ and Millennials have the highest number of entrepreneurs. Baby Boomers were the “rock and roll” generation and introduced Millennials to “save-the-world” type revolutions that are still happening today. There were more Baby Boomer mothers in the workplace than previous generations, leading Millennials to promote feminism, equal pay, and the women’s movement. Baby Boomers started the “free love” movement and Millennials promote tolerance, openness, and acceptance.*

There is so much that we can learn from each other.

We need to remember that older generations are the ones that created the new generations. We are all products of what we have have been exposed to and what we have learned. At the end of the day, we are all just trying to navigate our way though an ever-changing world.

So, let’s set the record straight.

Millennials are adventurous and ambitious. We are educated, motivated, and independent. We are diverse. We are confident and collaborative. We are conscious, aware, and open-minded. We are idealistic, innovative, and passionate.*

We are the future. And we are no better nor worse than anyone else.

Thanks for reading.

blog-generational_giving-image1

*Millennials: Born 1981-1997 (Sometimes listed as 1980-2000; 
the range of birth years for millennials may be updated as 
further demography studies about this generation are conducted, 
according to Pew Research). - CNN, 2017

*Defining Millennials and other generations,
- The 6 Living Generations In America, 
marketingteacher.com

*The Boomers are the first “Me Generation” and every 
generation after is also the “Me Generation",
according to medium.com

*Millennials are "alpha-infulencers", 
according to forbes.com

*Rock the Vote tweet,
https://twitter.com/RockTheVote/
status/959564406085554181

*Baby Boomer comparisons,
inspired by Pew Research Center

*16 Positive Qualities of Millennials, 
according to The Oddyssey Online

#NeverAgain

march for our lives

March For Our Lives: a quick recap!

This was amazing to be a part of. Attending the March for Our Lives in Washington, DC truly made me feel like I was a part of history. I feel very strongly about gun reform, and have never been a big fan of guns as a whole, and this experience made me hopeful for change.

A lot of big name celebs showed up to give their support, singing their inspirational songs that the crowd already knew. It was a nice way to get everyone going, and of course was kind of like an awesome free concert within the event. Although the celebrities were far from my favorite part of the day, it was really cool so see some of my faves, including Demi Lovato, JHud, Ariana Grande, Lin Manuel Miranda, Common, and more. And don’t forget my girl Miley, who rocked it in a crew neck sweatshirt and jeans.

I think one of the things that gave me the most hope was seeing the “next generation” show up and project their voice. Martin Luther King’s granddaughter was brought on stage, screaming her support, saying “We are going to be a great generation!” Another 11 year old black girl talked about how her voice makes a difference, and how it won’t be silenced just because of her age, race, or gender.

march for our lives 2

Emma Gonzalez, who is famous for her activism in gun reform after the shooting at Parkland High School, stood on the stage for a silent 6 minutes to represent the amount of time that the shooter had fired his gun in her school before abandoning his rifle. After a few minutes of silence, it started to feel like forever, and people started putting up the peace sign in their air with their fingers.

My favorite part was the teacher, Samantha Fuentes, who was a survivor of the Parkland shooting as well. She gave an extremely passionate speech, which included singing “Happy Birthday” to a student who was a victim of the shooting, and would have turned 18 that day. In the beginning of her speech, she got choked up and the live stream cut away for a minute to let her situate herself. When she regained composure, she screamed into the mic, “I just threw up on international television, and it feels great!”

There was also representation from big cities such as Chicago, who had an extremely important message about how this all started. This issue gained traction after the Parkland students combined forces with those who were already fighting against gun violence. A young girl who grew up in Chicago spoke about her brother passing and how she has been running from this fight her entire life. This issue started in the cities and is going to keep spreading and spreading until we do something to stop it.

In between each speaker, there was different promos on the TV screens to highlight the facts and findings behind the emotions of what they were saying. These promos included facts about the NRA, policy change, and Vets for Gun Reform. It’s not just about hearing stories of shootings, but also about the hard facts about what is causing this epidemic within our country. We have to educate ourselves completely to move forward and affect true change.

#Enough #NeverAgain #EnoughisEnough

march me

Take military weapons out of civilian homes. Require universal background checks on all weapons. Raise the age requirement and lengthen the waiting period. Make our schools, our concerts, our night clubs, our movie theaters SAFE again. VOTE.

Thanks for reading!