Conversion Therapy Must End

“Hello?”

“Michael, it’s [Chris], can you talk?”

“Yeah, of course, hold on a minute, what time is it,” I asked over the phone.

It was just after 1:00AM.

“What’s going on, are you crying? Are you ok?”

“Yes. No. Yes, I’m crying, no I’m not ok,” my friend whispered back. “I just woke up to my parents and a man from my church standing in my room.”

“Wait, what? What did you do?”

“I just laid there. They were begging for Jesus to heal me, to forgive me, to cure me. They were praying for me. My mom was crying-”

“-Oh, gosh, [Chris], I’m so sorry. That is not ok, not ok” I tried to reassure him.

“I gotta go, I think they’re still awake.” And with that, Chris hung up the phone.

I remember this conversation like it happened yesterday. I was 23 years old, and had just moved back to Oklahoma from Los Angeles. I was only out to a few people, and at that point, even some of my best friends didn’t know that I was gay. But Chris knew.

Around the time I started my coming out journey, I had a very good friend connect me with Chris, a new friend from Arkansas, who was experiencing a similar struggle as me. Chris came from a Catholic family, and we both viewed “telling our parents” as the scariest part of the entire coming out process. We had endured childhood and teenage bullying, but learned how to navigate the system. We figured out how to “pass” as straight, or at least undetectable, and checked in from time to time to make sure the other was doing well. The situation I reference above, when Chris called me in the middle of the night, was not uncommon. Chris had it harder than me. He was still around family, through college and beyond, while I had an opportunity to live somewhat independent from some of the bigger fears involved in my struggle.

Chris is now very proudly out as gay, but this was almost not the case. If it weren’t for people in his life who assured, validated, and made space for him to be his true self, Chris might have either existed in the closet (as many men do), or worse.

Worse was almost an option.

Chris’ parents gave him the option of “going to camp.” They didn’t force or demand, but they did strongly recommend. They plead. But of all the things Chris knew to be true in life, it was that he was gay. And that no camp or prayer would change that.

Much like Chris, the ongoing nature of my coming out journey was not fully positive, and even today I am still nursing the scars that were initially deep wounds created as a result of my being gay. But I never went to conversion therapy. I was never prayed over in the middle of the night. I was never beaten or physically assaulted into admitting I could or would change. And while people did attempt to “pray away the gay,”I resisted. Unfortunately, some are still trying.

If you happened to catch 20/20 this week, you will know where this post is going…

“For every camp like this, there are a hundred more that nobody knows about.”

While the progressive part of my brain wants to argue this statistic, the practical part of my experience tells me this might certainly be the case.

Conversion therapy must end.

“Praying away the gay” must end.

Physical and sexual assault as a means of conversion must end.

If you know someone who is currently feeling or physically trapped or stuck in a situation where they are not able to be their true self, please make space for them. Please validate, love, and uplift them. If you cannot make the space, or are at capacity in other ways, please invite others to assist. Remind people that they are loved, and that they are and can be who they are meant to be – their true and authentic self.

To those who might be that person I am referencing…feeling or physically trapped or stuck in a situation like conversion therapy, an abusive family, or more… Please, if you do anything today, let it be holding on. Please know that conversion therapy is not ok. Any emotional, physical, mental, and sexual abuse is not ok. And whoever sent you there or did (are doing) this to you did it without considering you. You matter. You absolutely matter.

But I imagine you are confused, frustrated, hurting.

If you are still called to Christianity, know that there are accepting churches and Christians out there. The version of Christianity or Christians that you are seeing is just one sliver of what that faith might represent. There is a bigger picture of love out there. Love really is out there. If your biological parents won’t accept you, I promise there is a chosen family out there ready and eager to accept, embrace, and adore you. I am ready and eager to accept, embrace, and adore you.

You are acceptable, embraceable, and worthy of adoration.

You are loved.

You are loved.

You are who you are meant to be.

And that person is loved.

I cannot possibly imagine what you are going through, even as my plea comes from a place built on assumptions. But please, if you do anything today, let it be holding on.

Please hold on.

For resources, references, or help making meaning, please see the following:

The Lies and Dangers of Efforts to Change Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity, via the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)

#BornPerfect: The Campaign to End Conversion Therapy

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I wish I could wrap all those struggling in a cocoon of love and support. If not physically present for you, I am here emotionally and spiritually. You are not alone.

Here, always here,

Michael

IMG_3911*Photo outside of Luther Place Memorial Church in Washington, D.C.
*The name, “Chris,” is a pseudonym to protect the identity of my friend.

A small, manila envelope…

I check my mail every single day.

I am never really expecting anything specific, of course, aside from the occasional Amazon delivery. All of my bills are paid online, my junk-mail blockers are up, and most of my magazine subscriptions come around the same time each quarter. Alas, with hope in my tummy, I still check my mail each day, eager for a surprise.

And last week did not disappoint. After coming home from an 8-day out-of-town institute, I was surprised by a small manila envelope sitting in my mailbox. Before I could get to the contents of the package, I opened a card – addressed to me – explaining the purpose of this piece of mail.

“I am writing you today about letters. As you know, I love notes. They are small acts of kindness delivered to your mailbox. It’s joy in a simple form. This summer it’s my goal to help send 200+ letters. I want you to join me! All I ask is that you send 5 letters to someone you love or a stranger that needs a little joy.”

This message was sandwiched between words of encouragement and general life blessings, and overall existed as a goosebumps-worthy way to start my week. Behind the beautiful letter were five stamped, unaddressed pieces of stationary, wrapped in a beautifully worded note about letters.

“Because sending a letter is the next best thing to showing up personally at someone’s door. Ink from your pen touches the stationary, your fingers touch the paper, your saliva seals the envelope, your scent graces the paper. Something tangible from your world travels through machines and hands, and deposits itself in another’s mailbox; their world. Your letter is then carried inside as an invited guest. The paper that was sitting on your desk, now sits on another’s. The recipient handles the paper that you handled. Letters create a connection that modern and impersonal forms of communication will never replace.”

Like my dear friend, I love letters. I believe in letters, and I care desperately for the art of handwritten notes. While some might argue this art form to be declining or dying, I tend to disagree. What you put out there, you get back. And before I could even celebrate around a plan for sending out the pre-stamped letters, I got another surprise package. This one was from two of my best friends from college, who knew my favorite holiday, the 4th of July, was upon us.

I all but fell apart while reading their card and staring at the surprise gifts. Just as my first friend noted in her letter, “They are small acts of kindness delivered to your mailbox,” I tend to agree more and more. And in the spirit of inspiration and other warm-fuzzies, I spent most of Friday reflecting and writing, and had a tender moment with the US Post Office. Accompanied by five of my own blank and stamped pieces of stationary, the little note below is now on its way to Iowa City, IA. To my little sister, Hope, I challenge you to pay it forward – share some joy this month, show some love.

Make time.

Send love.

Spread joy,

Michael

*Giant thank you to my dear friend, Paige Acker, for thinking of me, charging me with this beautiful task, and declaring to make the world a more positive place for all – I’m thankful to know such a genuine and authentic human being. 

**Double-thank you to my friends Tasha Hinex and Jessica Shropshire, who sent me the 4th of July goodies, and reminded me that the people who know you best are the best people to have in your corner (and let freedom ring, and all of that!). 

To be, an activist.

IMG_1427I saw, “Selma,” yesterday, and in many ways, I am still processing it all – I should add that, even 24 hours later, I am also still a total mess. I wept through 60% of the film, and, of course, this experience was following me finally getting around to watching, “The Normal Heart,” the night before (and, “Whitney,” the night before that – which, as we know, is arguably unrelated). “The Normal Heart,” also did something deep for me. Still processing, still understanding, still moving forward.

Please note, this post is not a review of either film, despite a number of thoughts and questions and challenges now entering the post-movie provocation phase.

This post is about activism.

Last year, I made the decision to change my social media and blog profiles to identify myself with the label, “Activist.” It hit me shortly after some work I was doing on an Incident Team, with the reminder that, if you see or feel or know something is not right – and you choose to speak up – you are an activist. And, furthermore, if you care – even of the presumably smallest things – your ‘damn’ is enough.

And, thus, a full embrace.

When I was growing up, I was told, “People with the biggest mouths get into the biggest trouble.” My mouth was big, and it didn’t stop moving. “VERY SOCIAL,” and, “VERY TALKATIVE,” my teachers would warn my parents of my potential downfall.

When I was growing up, I fought for the underdog. I befriended the kid in my class who was living with autism, challenged rules around the age in which students could compete in the “Jump Rope for Heart” competition, and headlined an improv group full of teens addressing drug/alcohol abuse, depression, and other social issues (“STOP: Students Taking On Problems”).

When I was growing up, I was ultra conscious of my big mouth, easily fighting off the stereotype of, “extremist,” or, “too liberal.” I knew I was not the former, however while growing up on a military base in conservative central Oklahoma, one often pauses in fear of, “rocking the boat.” I was often told activists were the odd ones, and, “extremist,” “activist,” and, “oppressor,” were often one united identity.

I was told activists were Black.

Activists were queer.

Activists were women with armpit hair who waved their bras in the air and let their breasts race for their belly button.

And in the most diverse way, I identified with each of these expectations. I found figures and stories to believe in – some silently supporting – while remaining hopeful that I, too, could have my moment someday. That I could be an activist, and be okay with all that came with this stressful identity. Embarrassingly, I must admit, it was not until I saw, “Hairspray,” in tenth grade that I finally understood what a peaceful protest really looked like. It was, “Hairspray,” that rocked me. It was, “Hairspray,” that taught my fifteen year old self that all of this – this, caring and pushing and believing – was worth something. And, though cliche, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

Let’s pause here for a moment. Yes, you read that correctly. Tracy Turnblad helped me understand what it meant to truly stand up for something when you know it to be right. Of course, MLK and Malcolm X and Harvey Milk all showed me this in the historical context, however watching “activism” happen live became something I could never forget. And I took this memory with me through high school, college, and beyond.

One sunday afternoon when I lived in Los Angeles several years ago, one of my roommates (and now, a very dear friend) came downstairs and asked me to join her in protesting California Proposition 8 (or, “Prop 8,” on the streets). Despite juggling my own identity and political development occurring at this particular time, I joined myDQ77K1n2 friend and saw, first hand, the heart and soul behind the fight for marriage equality. I had never seen so much passion and emotion as I did that day (much like that of the raw experience created in, “Hairspray”).

This specific friend still inspires me to this day, and is constantly on the front lines of our country’s need to make change. Hell, it is not uncommon to find this sweet friend still debating social issues, picketing corrupt politicians, and engaging in twitter wars with crooks. She serves with confidence, and taught me that activism is about speaking up, even when you’re scared to death (in a, speak-up-even-if-your-voice-trembles-or-whatever-that-quote-is-anyway, sentiment).

Because, my voice does tremble.

My voice does shake.

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And, speaking up isn’t always easy, regardless of the context. Whereas my life as a motor-mouth kid from the Air Force Base may appear to be engaged thoughtfully and confidently, it’s not uncommon for me to still be scared out of my mind. In fact, sometimes speaking up for one’s self, solo, can be even harder than having a hundred protesters by your side.

But you have to start somewhere.

Write down what it is that you believe in. Skim the news, debate people on twitter, post a thought-provoking article on Facebook, befriend someone different than you – these are all a start. We need more activists. We need more people to come out…and to come out as whatever, whoever. I had a friend text me the following, recently: “You see, when you care about something, you manage to make something happen.” Action.

Be something. Do something. Stand up. Give a damn. Give a whole bunch of damns. Lead a peaceful protest. Learn. Grow. Challenge your family, your critics. Be critical. Walk up to someone and engage a dialogue.

Listen when your gut screams, “This is not okay!”

There is still a lot to be done. And you can be on the front lines of change if you so choose. There is a part in the film, “Selma,” when a white man comes down from Boston to march, and someone asks him, “What brought you to Selma to join this march” (or something related to this inquiry)?

His response was concise and direct:

“I couldn’t just stand by…”

Simply put, my friends, once you know something, you can’t say that you don’t. And once you get those chills or goosebumps, you can’t ignore their provoking tension. We can no longer simply, “stand by.”

I’m willing to fight. I’m willing to push. I’m willing to care.

I am willing to act. Will you join me?

My heart,

Michael

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So, I cried in public today…

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We’ve all been there, right?

Everything building up. Pause.

Lump in throat. Pause.

Voice quivering. Heart pounding.

Pause.

I cried in public today.

I won’t go deep into the dark place I was navigating through this afternoon, however when I shared this moment with a friend shortly after my mini-meltdown, her response was beautiful and to the point:

“What can you take off? Because a lot on the heart is not good.”

Of course, this text only lead to more tears, and me, silently sniffling in my corner seat on the train. I imagine playing Ben Rector’s, “Sailboat,” on repeat for the past hour has contributed to this pause in stability, however I will also chalk this moment up to just simply being overdue. Crying is healthy. Gender norms tell us differently, and I will challenge those specific expectations until the day I die. Again, crying is healthy.

And while crying has its differing critics, ultimately I would argue that we are all still somewhat uncomfortable with the pain. We don’t talk about the pain. The pain is real, and raw. And perhaps there is some part of us that doesn’t want to agree that life alone is not all ribbons and gumdrops, and that validating the pain might actually represent some sense of submission to vulnerability. Vulnerability is healthy. Submit.

Hell, lean in, if you will.

I should add, there is also this unsettling reality that we don’t want to project our vulnerability or pain upon others. Consequently, we balance the fine line of over-sharing versus keeping a strict guard up. Let the guard down. Be open, be unsettled, be vulnerable. Pick up the phone and call someone. Love on someone.

People are going through some shit, some real and painful shit. Sure, a note on someone’s Facebook or a comment on their Instagram is nice, but so is a cup of coffee and a half hour of processing. So is a voicemail saying, “Hey, I love you. Know that.” So is a handwritten note. So is time spent.

Call. Write. Love. Spend.

During the most influential professional years of my life, I was raised on an understanding that the definition of success exists somewhere within the confines of a calendar and clean email inbox. But, what happens when both of these expectations are reduced to nothing? What happens when an alarm clock is no longer necessary? What happens when we are left vulnerable, open, and subject to pain?

Where is your self-worth? Do you feel free? Can you feel free?

So. I cried in public today. And, the truth is, this won’t be the last time. Here’s to a better understanding of my self, less doughnut binges, and one big Vulnerability Badge.

Pausing,

Michael

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*photos stolen from somewhere on social media (maybe Insta or Pinterest)

Wondering about wanderers, wandering…

Many summers ago, I did a photo project, capturing a few friends holding up photos of specific words from one of my favorite quotes, “Not all those who wander are lost” (Tolkien). It was 2009 when I discovered this quote, and I was in one of the biggest in-between moments of my life. I had just left my job at TOMS, and was gearing up to move to northern Michigan.

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This line became a mantra for me, and one which guided so much of my personal affirmations and self-efficacy. I even blew up the photos as large mats, placing them over the desk in my room/office (I worked in residential life, for all those who understand the reality of a, “room/office”). In many ways, this quote still exists as a personal exclamation. Hell, scroll up – it’s the title photo for my blog. I live this. I genuinely believe that we are never truly lost. And more so, I believe there is a plan and a purpose behind everything we do or can do (and not even as much in the religious context, but more so that there are little bits of life and love and learning which exist at every, even random and unplanned, corner). Learning is essential. Dissonance is learning. And wandering is real, and raw.

This summer I was introduced to the Slow Club song, “Wanderer Wandering,” and of course I wore the song out on repeat. It became a badge of honor, and contrary to the belief that, “Pompeii,” was played while taking flight to China, it was actually this song which resonated with me most in the initial moments of international risk taking.

Just before I left for China, a very good friend of mine introduced me to one of his very good friends who is also abroad right now. This particular individual is in Morocco, working for the Peace Corps, and doing much larger and more impacting things than I could ever imagine. He and I will email a few times per month, process out some of our experiences, and provide support to one another. He frequently blogs about his experience, and one of his most recent posts really struck a chord with me. One specific paragraph reads as follows:

“However, a dear friend once told me earlier this year, ‘Sure, not all who wander are lost, but how beautiful is it to be lost and have the chance to wander.’ Beautiful words, and throughout my simultaneous belonging in the lost and found box in this crazy overlapping phenomenon of pure joy and pure chaos, those images I dreamed of sure began to look different when wandering.”

Gasp, right? Real, right? I would add, raw and relevant, as well. And I would further argue, people are part of that chaos. And with each location, endeavor, job win/loss, challenge, barrier, and gain, people take up space in the beautiful, “lost and found box,” of life. And with each person we meet, a new and unique perspective is added to our repertoire of curiosity and knowledge. For example, I spent the weekend in Beijing (as you know, I’ve been living remotely two hours east of the city), and on my first day in town, I met a man in the elevator who was, ironically, from Morocco. In my attempt to connect this new elevator introduction with my electronic Peace Corps pen pal, I actually ended up making a new friend. Nearly four hours later (and five glasses of wine for me), we talked through the American preK-12 education system, diversity and racial dynamics, perceptions of the United Staes, travel, family (he and his wife have a precious 10-month old), and a myriad of other engaging and thought-provoking topics. And following this conversation, I was tired. My mind hurt, and I was intellectually drained. But all I could think was, This is growth. This moment reminded me of the power others hold to truly grant us perspective. Again, This is growth. It is important to be around people who inquire about our values and beliefs, and more so, ask questions which challenge us to know why it is that we know and believe what it is that we believe.

So, a new week is here. And there are millions of people out there with different experiences, perspectives, and life lessons ready to be shared and learned. How can you capitalize on that growth? How can you maximize your own story, thus letting others share in that learning and growing? Are you even sharing your story? You have one. We all do. And as you wander, wonder, or ponder, my challenge is to look up. Meet a stranger on an elevator. Give an honest and raw answer when someone asks how you are doing. Be open and honest about the current status of your heart. Embrace unknown. Accept unknown. Accept your most authentic and raw self. And then, be okay with the unknown that comes with that acceptance.

Still wandering, ever accepting,

Michael

“Soak up today. Ask someone, ‘How is the state of your heart today?’ Ask yourself the same question. Strive to be a human being rather than a human doing.” – Janine Myers

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Coffee Shop Sanctuary

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The woman who owns the coffee shop I frequent brought me a plate of grapes last week. On the house. I had been sitting there for hours, and my pizza and milkshake had long been consumed. I am not sure if this was a strategy for poisoning me to later steal my kidneys, however I ate half the bunch and tucked the other half into a plastic baggie I had in my backpack – I couldn’t take any risks. Seeing that I did not pass out or feel weak later that night or next day, I took this gesture as a really warm and kind greeting – a, thanks-for-coming-to-my-shop, if you will. This could have also been her way of saying, “We served you the pizza and milkshake, but refuse to allow you to be any more of an obese American,” though, I digress.

This coffee shop has become a safe space for me, and somewhat of a refuge from the small town living I have been experiencing since leaving Beijing for a few weeks. This also happens to be the same coffee shop where Sarah McLaughlin’s, “Angel,” plays virtually every time I walk in. This hit is followed by some version of county music, and I’m convinced they save the playlist just for me. I frequently run into KooKoo, a French teacher from France, here working at a small international school in town (and yes, KooKoo, like, “One Flew Over the [Her Name Plural] Nest”). She is a kind older woman, though typically complaining about Chinese food. I let her have her moment(s), and take solace in her rare smiles.

But today I set a goal. Just after lunch, I spent an hour practicing the Chinese version of, “Thank you for letting me come here and use your wifi, and also thank you for the grapes.” I felt like it was important to show my appreciation, and also my loyalty to the company (okay, so it’s been two weeks of loyalty – I’m committed nonetheless). Aside from some of these individual words being highly impossible to say/figure out, putting the sentence structure together had me feeling like I was about curse her restaurant amidst a jumbled version of what I perceived to be a kind gesture. Just after work, I hustled the 25 minute walk to the coffee shop, and was greeted by huge smiles and waves. The moment came, and as I entered the restaurant with an obnoxious, “Ni Hao,” I pulled out my small notebook to recite my newly-learned version of, “Thank you.”

It took me a minute to struggle through the sentences, and once I finished, I looked up with a huge smile on my face to confirm completion. Their response consisted of odd looks and blank stares. We stood in maybe three or four seconds of horrifying silence, before they looked at each other and yelled in broken English, “Thank you!” I wiped the sweat from my head and forced a few shared-giggles. The point was made, and I believe my attempt was well-received.

And here I sit, post-pizza, mid-milkshake, and all I can think of is how thankful I am for this coffee shop sanctuary. How often do we do this? How often do we pause and reflect on businesses and locations (or environments) which we appreciate and hold to the highest regard? I have previously posted about my TOMS Shoes experience six years ago, and receiving an opportunity merely from sending my résumé to the company in a box of shoes which needed replaced for a new size. But this might have been one of the last and few times I have showed such loyalty and appreciation.

Now, I’m not saying you should all go buy a pair of shoes (or insert some other item here) and return them with your résumé. I’m talking about the pure reality of appreciating businesses for being more than just a product. To me, this coffee shop is more than coffee (and pizza, and drinks, and milkshakes) – this coffee shop is a safe space for me to unwind and breathe outside of work. TOMS Shoes wasn’t just a prospective job opportunity or a company with stellar shoes – TOMS Shoes existed as a company doing good work, and one I heavily believe in. Loyalty is awesome. And showing people you believe in their brand is even better.

Sometimes it’s institution loyalty, and other times it’s loyalty to leadership. Whatever be the cause or case, find something to believe in today. And once you establish that value, find a way to articulate those beliefs to that company, institution, or corporation. After all, you’re not only a living brand-ambassador, you’re also localized investor. Spend your efforts wisely.

Loyal,

Michael

Pi Beta Phi, for the win…and other, see-someone-to-be-someone, moments of success and failure.

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In graduate school, I had this friend who, every time we passed a black student, staff member, or community member, would say hello with a wave or head nod. After a few months of knowing her, I finally asked her to share the scoop on her constant greeting of strangers. Her response was simple, yet powerful, “I may be the only black person they see today, and I feel like it’s important that they see someone supporting them.” At the time, the university was horridly underrepresented, and the percentage of black students was that which we could count in single digits. This friend’s perspective was alarmingly raw to me, and was always something I kept in the back of my mind when working with students.

“We need to see someone to be someone.”

This old saying was something I took very serious as an out-professional, and one which allowed me to truly be my most authentic self. Tom Nelson Laird asserts, “The best thing you can do as a[n education] professional is show people who you are.” In fact, for the past three years I have had this very quote hanging from my computer monitor, living as a constant reminder to bring my whole self to every table in which I’m invited. Perhaps, like my friend shared, someone would see me and think they, too, were valuable, valued, and validated.

Now, fast-forward to my first week in China. Upon arriving in Beijing, I slowly started to realize that I was no longer the majority, and that my white skin stood out as a sign and marker, reading, “OBLIVIOUS WESTERNER HERE.” To find some sense of solidarity, I decided that, similar to my previously-mentioned cohort friend (for obvious reasons, I’ve refrained from saying, “…my black friend,” and so should you, if ever given the chance), I would nod at all the white folk, in hope of forcing some type of introduction or affirmation (an, “I see you, and I’m here too,” if you will). And so, I nodded.

Three days in, and probably twenty nods later, I had yet to gain a single nod in return, and definitely not even a smile. This was particularly frustrating to me, as that first week I felt more alone than I had felt in my entire life (which is ironic for being in a city of 22+ million people). This frustration boiled up until yesterday afternoon, when I spent some time walking around the supermarket, looking for a chocolate snack for my new coworkers (after all, nothing says, “Help me, I’m foreign,” like a sweet treat). Just as I was walking into the market, my eyes caught another white person coming down the escalator – we’re not hard to miss in this city. I guessed she was from the states, as plastered across her light blue t-shirt were the words, “PI BETA PHI.” I gasped!

My first attempt at contact was a quiet, “Hi,” as we were both looking at fruit. She was unresponsive, and I could hear the music coming through her earbuds. She wandered off, leaving me to lurk around the supermarket and devise a new plan of approach. And that’s when it happened: she took out one of her earbuds while examining different milk options, leaving me to swoop in for potential conversation. I immediately scurried over, casually stood next to her, and said, “Pi Beta Phi, eh?”

“Yep,” she responded. “People always approach me when I’m wearing this shirt.” We both laughed, and then had a nice 5-10 minute conversation about the why and how long we had been in China, the neat and often-global connections forged by an experience in fraternities and sororities, and then even discovered we knew a mutual friend (another Pi Beta Phi who I worked with many years ago, whose little sister was in the same chapter as this new friend – talk about a small world!).

We shared our WeChat (a messaging application) information, and went on our way. That brief moment of interaction gave me a ton of energy, and in a lot of ways, affirmed and validated my very existence in that specific place and time (and in China, if you want to look at the gigantic picture). Just like my friend validating students, even individuals she didn’t know, in this moment more than ever, I understood the idea of, “see someone to be someone,” and how it truly can impact a person’s (or student’s) experience (life, routine, future, etc.).

So, reach out. Look up. Nod.

See this post as one huge thank you to all those who have supported someone along their journey (whichever journey seems fitting). Additionally, please see this post as an opportunity to be a light to someone else – let them see you as an individual, an environment, or an accomplishment which they, too, can achieve. Reach out, be available to someone’s nod, and provide validation even if it violates the day-to-day norms you’ve allowed yourself to replay. Look up, and don’t be afraid to tell people who you are by inviting them to be their true self too.

Two nods for you, Glen Coco,

Michael

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