Rainbow Reflections

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I absolutely love to share.

I am not afraid to raise my hand in class to give my opinion. I can talk to just about anybody about just about anything.  I am rarely intimidated by talking to strangers. I seek out friends & family at practice, in class, during events, around the dinner table, or just in passing to inquire about the current happenings of their day. I enjoy getting to learn the significant details of other people’s lives while also getting the chance to express my own.

My desire to share is not limited to my in-person interactions. I created this blog for the sole purpose of spreading content that I was passionate about.  Literally every day, I utilize any and all social media to share my digital representation of myself. Whether I am sending Snapchats during parties on the weekend, posting yet another picture to INSTAGRAM, and/or regaling my Facebook friends with the latest hilarious tragedy that has just occurred, there is a certain joy in recognizing that something important enough in my life to share with others, even if on the surface it seems silly or mundane.

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I try not to let other people’s opinions affect me that much. If I want to wear my 90’s tattoo choker or my candy-patterned rain boots or my tie-dye denim jacket, I am going to do just that. Several times this year, I have questioned who I was because of the words or actions of other people, but usually, with the love of family & friends and the guidance of my therapist at University Counseling Services, I am able to return to my true center – an identity that I am comfortable & confident with. While it is not always easy, I believe I make an effort to be myself as much as possible.

Yet, despite my aforementioned determination to share so many details of my life and my ability to remember what my authentic self represents for me, I don’t feel like I have been upfront about a very important facet of who I am. While it is mostly common knowledge amongst loved ones, I have never once on this blog or any social media formally acknowledged that I identify as a bisexual woman. Coming to terms with who I am has not been simple, but it has been beautiful.

Both people you would expect & people you wouldn’t expect have reached out in big & small ways to make me feel comfortable with who I am and not who they thought I should be. My family, my freshman year BFF, my friend who sat with me in Starbucks, my one best friend in high school, my Perspectives soul mate, all of my Boston College roommates, my co-counselor at FLC, my other two Tripod members, my small group on 48 Hours, my C$OM friend/chief motivator, my Maynooth #PartyOfSix, my oldest friend from home, my internship co-workers, my Kairos 117 & Kairos 141 families, my FLIX teammates, my fellow Spectrum retreatants, my first girlfriend – all of you & countless others have helped me come to terms with the person I am with more support than I could have imagined. In case I have never said it to you, thank you for the crucial role you have played in my path towards self-acceptance & self-love.

On Friday, Boston College hosted a Lavender Graduation to celebrate the achievements of students within the LGBTQ community. It actually was a very poignant event in the entirety of the whole graduation process. John McDargh, a theology professor at BC who makes a huge effort to be a resource for LGBTQ students, eloquently summarized why these kind of events are important. He said that there are challenges that our community have faced that make our achievements especially worthy of celebrating. I think this can be said of any group who feels the pain of marginalization.

I decided that I wanted to make this is a public announcement when I sent in my RSVP to this event about two weeks ago. I was thinking to myself would I publicly post whether or not I had attended the Lavender Graduation. Would I care too much about what people would think knowing that I actually do identify within the spectrum? I respect the process with which people come to terms with who they are. While I understand that some people choose not to make this kind of information about themselves very public and that is perfectly fine, I realized that this is not a true reflection of who I am. Why would I share all of these funny, sad, happy, angry, & thoughtful moments of my life whether in person or via social media, during which I occasionally hint at my sexuality but never take the opportunity to explicitly state it? 

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I have two main objectives in making this announcement.

First, I believe that change in our world will happen when more and more people recognize that they know someone within the LGBTQ community. I hope our fight for equality becomes your fight. Our quest for equality is not limited to marriage but also includes the right to start a family and protect that family, the right to job security, and more; these are all essential to our ability to live out our lives, often with the most sincere intention to love one another. We will not continue to advance the cause without sustainable support from both the LGBTQ community and our friends/family who step up as allies.

I want to be clear that I am not seeking external acceptance from this post, although support is always welcome & appreciated not just for me but for all. Second, while I want to share this part of my life with others, in an ironic way, it is also a sense of personal validation that I do this. It is a way for me to prove that I am not letting fear of prejudice or gossip keep me from being who I want to be.

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In addition to sharing, I absolutely love rainbows.

Perhaps as some kind of ironic foreshadowing, when I was a little kid, I would draw rainbows all over my name tags and school papers. As I got older, I subtly incorporated the colorful elements of the rainbow into my clothing & accessories – my favorite ring, my phone case, my vintage cotton romper, my glitter hair tie that my Mod 21B key is on, my J.Crew necklace collection, my scarf from my best friend cousin. Update: I realize even my STYLESILIKE logo has a ROY G BIV color scheme.

 I used to think of these rainbow items as personal talismans – ones that would give me strength when I wore them and remind me to be proud. Perhaps, they were also an easy way to make people aware that there was something that they didn’t realize about me at first glance. My rainbows could be clues for the attentive observer. But, I don’t want to shyly wear rainbows. I am not a timid person, and if I have learned nothing else about the natural state of rainbows, it is that they need to be out in the sunlight for the beautiful colors to appear.

These rainbow balloons are meant to celebrate the freedom I have found in coming to terms with my identity. Yet, through my joy, I recognize pain. MY SCHOOL is hurting & OUR COUNTRY is hurting. Through these struggles, there are people who are continuing to fight to make this world a better place. As John stated at the Lavender Graduation,

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

I hope you will join us in our fight.

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Matching rainbow uniforms are encouraged for all but not required.

ERIN ★

#STYLESILIKE are meant to be shared.

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6 Responses to Rainbow Reflections

  1. Elaina Gray says:

    <3

  2. Ana Valentin says:

    I am absolutely in love with this post. Good on you on your openness and willingness to share something so personal. Truly Dr.Seuss had something goiing with his “Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter”. Live your life girl! Do your thing and don’t ever let the opinions of others hold you back because at the end of the day you have to deal with it, not them, you know?

  3. Fufi says:

    Erin! Beautiful words coming from a beautiful human. Watching you grow alongside the people I love most is something I will cherish forever, and a favorite thread of memories I hold close to my heart from BC. Thanks for always being you, and know I love you! Commenting and reading this blog post instead of doing my paper due tomorrow because #sorrymom.

    Love,
    Fufi

  4. Eileen Callahan says:

    Erin, Each of us is made in the image and likeness of God. So God is very diverse, loves us just they way we are, and has a quirky sense of humor!! I am proud of BC for having a Lavender Graduation and proud of how Boston has grown since the first lavender parade about 45 years ago. And I have liked you just the way you are since you were 4!! Enjoy!!

  5. Erin, this is a beautiful post. First, you look so beautiful! What great pictures and I love the balloons. The dress is wonderful on you.

    I deeply applaud you for the post and not hiding who you are. I applaud the mature way you even know who you are – in college I was a mess! You write with such insight on your blog.

    It was my college reunion over the weekend. I walked around campus with one of my best friends, who happened to come out after we’d graduated. She was remembering what a struggle it had been for her during those years (she is now married and has three totally amazing children).

    Life is hard for everyone – figuring out who you are and being happy should be something we encourage and embrace.

    Hooray for graduation! : )

    Catherine

  6. Ipek says:

    Beautifully written from a beautiful woman! Sending lots of love and accolades!

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