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.

Four Elephant Emojis

I turned 31 yesterday.

The excitement of 30 has solidified and I am extra-reflective of last year’s celebration. The Instagramification of 30 guided much my outlook on entering a new decade of life, and as I embarked on a dream of accepting that I am not perfect (and may never be), I discovered that I can be loved even as a result of that/those imperfection(s).

This peace was very raw and real for me.

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Celebrating 30 in DC, accompanied by a new soulmate and giant group of friends was a stark contrast to the celebration of 29, which consisted of me embracing, “almost-thirty,” more than, “actually-29.” Instead of being surrounded by friends and loved ones in the open air on a DC rooftop, I was adventuring in northeast China, alone in a hotel room, journaling and reflecting. A lot can happen in 24 months.

In the spirit of self-disclosure, I spent 31 on the verge of tears.

Ultimately I was okay. In fact, I really was actually great – I felt and received so much love and support from friends near and far; I was treated wonderfully at work and around campus; I have the best partner who provided a fantastic weekend last weekend to honor the big day; and I heard from people who reminded me that I was so worthy and so wonderfully me.

All of this, and yet, the almost-tears-lump still remained (please tell me you know this lump-in-the-throat feeling I am talking about?).

How did I manage to fool all of these folx into writing on my wall, tweeting at me, texting me, and calling me with cheerful and joyous messages? 

Our brain can be a scary thing.

I explained some of these feelings to a dear friend of mine, the friend whose elephant moment I captured in my last post. In our conversation, I shared some of my thoughts around why I was so distracted, and why I didn’t feel good enough in this particular place and time. Here’s a bit from our conversation:

Me:  “I’m seriously standing at a food place getting dinner, crying, and wondering why I feel so unworthy. And why I can’t shake that.”

Friend:  “Because you are human. Flawed. Full. Imperfect. Perfect. And going through a lot of transition.”

This friend then typed out four elephant emojis, and stated, “That’s how many elephants you’re up against right now.”

Of course, I started to cry some more. Good tears.

If I (we) truly believe, “eating an elephant,” requires taking one bite at a time, four metaphorical elephants becomes a new challenge, and a new journey.

I cried not because I was down or sad or upset, I cried because my friend was right. Sometimes we don’t just have just one elephant to get through – sometimes there are many more, some bigger than others, and some to remind you that your worth is subjective, enough, and whatever you need it to be in any particular moment or time. Knowing your worth is about knowing what elephants you have in front of you, and knowing that some may be there that you didn’t even know about (“you don’t know what you don’t know,” and all of that). I didn’t need to have any major wins yesterday. I didn’t need to have a “perfect” birthday. I needed to take care of myself, my heart.

That was enough for me.

And thanks to my friend, four elephant emojis, and a reminder that sometimes the process we’re told to trust isn’t always all that trustworthy, I feel whole again.

I feel 31, deservingly so.

I feel loved, valued, and mostly worthy.

I feel more present than I have in awhile.

I feel ready for a new year of chance, hope, and humanity.

I feel unapologetically open and raw.

I feel.

Another year, another learning lesson, another road ahead.

Brain-battling,

Michael

Mary Prusha Art Up
*Art and photo by Mary Prusha

“…and we recommit to bending the arc of our Nation toward justice.”

“The fight for dignity and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is reflected in the tireless dedication of advocates and allies who strive to forge a more inclusive society.  They have spurred sweeping progress by changing hearts and minds and by demanding equal treatment — under our laws, from our courts, and in our politics.  This month, we recognize all they have done to bring us to this point, and we recommit to bending the arc of our Nation toward justice.”
Presidential Proclamation — LGBT Pride Month, 2016
The White House

I came out after college.
…and then kept coming out, year after year and to friend after friend.

My first memories of feeling and being, “out,” surfaced when I moved to Los Angeles at 22 years of age, shortly after I graduated from college. I was picked up at the airport by two of my new roommates and coworkers, and halfway through our ride home, one of them noted, “Oh, and you’re going to love West Hollywood and all the gay bars and night life,” assuming I was gay.

My new roommate had assumed correctly, and I let the moment pass. I still consider this my first experience as, “out,” and it was a critical part of my process – it was the beginning. I enjoyed West Hollywood, and all Los Angeles had to offer me as a young, gay Oklahoman, still desperate not to come out to my friends and family back “home.”

I soon moved away from California, and so began the process of coming out to my friends and family. I lost some really close relationships during that time, some that are still broken and bruised today. And as a result of that pain, for many years, I delayed going to any summer LGBT(Q+) Pride events. At that time, I felt the opposite of what the celebration stood for – I was anything but proud.

I was embarrassed, grappling with years of discomfort and shame. It was something I didn’t talk about, and something I didn’t know how to talk about. I had a friend in graduate school once tell me she thought (assumed) I had been out and proud since high school.

My response: “I wasn’t brave enough.”

I wasn’t brave enough. 

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I finally felt brave enough in 2012, when I decided to fly to Atlanta and celebrate Pride with one of my best friends who grew up with me on my Air Force Base.

I was nervous about the trip, and kept it quite coy on my social media platforms. That is, until my friend posted on my Facebook that she was excited to see me in Atlanta, and for Pride. It left me quite anxious, and within minutes, I received a message from someone very close to me at the time.

“Why are you going to Atlanta, and what is Pride?”

I sat with this message for about an hour, and finally, I responded the only way I knew how: honest and up-front.

“It’s an LGBT festival for queer people, celebrating who we are.”

“Please tell me you aren’t going,” they quickly responded.

That was the end of our conversation. And I sat at my desk and erupted in tears. I didn’t know what to do from there. I felt trapped, and I felt helpless.

But I went to Pride.

And I forced myself to be proud.

And within hours, I felt liberated – within hours, I felt free.

I was raised in a space that taught me to be shameful of anything related to being gay or queer culture. I was taught rigidity. I was taught the black and white version of social justice – minus love, minus understanding and acceptance, minus peace and dignity for all. And as summer appears each year, I am quickly reminded that progress truly does keep marching on, and we have to march along with it.

Let the Proclamation I cited at the beginning of this piece resound:

“There remains much work to do to extend the promise of our country to every American, but because of the acts of courage of the millions who came out and spoke out to demand justice and of those who quietly toiled and pushed for progress, our Nation has made great strides in recognizing what these brave individuals long knew to be true in their hearts — that love is love and that no person should be judged by anything but the content of their character.”

I believe in this. I connect to this.

We need this.

Come out, this season, any season. If not for yourself, come out as an ally so others in your life can see and believe they are loved and supported. If able and safe, come out so you can pave a new path for others to feel that their most authentic self is just as valued and valuable as any other.

As a 30 year old, I’m hearing some family and friends be vocal for the first time in my life. And while I love and value this personal progress, I am also conscious of the others who face a similar absence as I did for so many years growing up.

Do this for them.

Healing is ongoing. For me, and for you.

Be present. Show up. Be bold and proud. And most of all, spread love.

Make amends with family. Make amends with religious dissonance. Find peace in your heart, be settled and be free from shame and guilt and self-destruction. It gets better, and it can continue to evolve (whatever, “it,” might represent) – you (we) continue to evolve.

Please, beautifully, evolve. I recommit to justice every single day. And today, I’m asking you to do the same.

Love, love is all you need,

Michael

“During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, as Americans wave their flags of pride high and march boldly forward in parades and demonstrations, let us celebrate how far we have come and reaffirm our steadfast belief in the equal dignity of all Americans.”

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Honoring Parentless Students

*video filmed by ACPA – College Student Educators International, via ACPA Social Media

I attended a conference last week where I had the privilege to present a PechaKucha (powered by ACPA) on a topic I care about deeply.

“Honoring Parentless Students”

PechaKucha is, as as you discovered in the introduction to the video, a presentation where an individual talks alongside 20 images and slides, each turning automatically every 20 seconds. 20×20. According to PechaKucha, this presentation format was created by two architects, and initially as a result of the belief that architects talk too much! As a person with an undergraduate degree in communication, I would agree that most people talk too much when given an unrestricted set of PowerPoint slides.

And so, PechaKucha.

Aside from a space to tell a few stories (though, if given the time, I have dozens more related to this topic), I also took the opportunity to share some very personal reflections I have regarding the changing reality of how parents and families show up in education – and specifically, how the concept of parents and families show up in my own life. The landscape is changing.

And this should be no surprise. Over the past twenty years (arguably more), the landscape of families & non-families has changed significantly, and we should all be pausing to consider how parenting structures appear or don’t appear as it relates to children and college-age students. We should all consider adjusting our practice.

For example, “Mom’s Day,” or, “Dad’s Weekend,” The Office of Parent Programs, parent orientation, better funded opportunities for stateside families without including international students, letters home to, “Mr/s.,” or the plural of parent (“To the parents of…”) – these all come to mind, and knowing the list goes on and on.

So, what do we do, you might be wondering?

Furthermore, how do we support students who may not have the family or parenting structure that many of our programs assume? What about those triggered by these programs, or those left out by the simple mission of these traditions? How do we simply pause and honor someone’s actual, lived experience on their campus?

Aside from my hope and plan to research this very topic someday, for starters, you can evaluate your current practices and programs. Challenge exclusive norms, engage your alumni, program around the changing reality of families and students, and include those chosen-family friends and community members who may be supporting an individual just as much, if not more, than any relative could provide. Examine your school’s statistics and build bridges to colleagues across campus. Empower authenticity.

Next, be insistent. Pull students in to help you change the culture of your exclusive programs and traditions. Ask students frequently, “Who are we leaving behind?” “How can we edit or enhance the way we support all students?” “In what ways does [this program] exist as an exclusive body of opportunity for some more than others?”

Help students garner courage as they navigate these ongoing murky waters. Jump in those waters with them. And as you swim (or float or tread or splash) in those waters, invite others to jump in, too. What is not changing on our campuses is that students are showing up – how they show up, and with or without  whom, is, however, truly evolving.

And in honor of this evolution, I hope this will inform your practice.

Pausing,

Michael

DSC01252.JPG*photo provided by Idriss Njike (UCLA), co-host of PechaKucha, powered by ACPA

Temporarily Beardless: “We practice self-love in this house.”

Beardless.

Partner: I want to cry.
Me: I want to cry too!
Partner: Wait, what? Why?

Me: Because I look like a troll! Why do you want to cry?
Partner: Because I love you even more. 

“It’s like your armor is gone, super vulnerable,” he says. 

Before I dive deeper into my new (and temporary) beardless state of being, I should admit something quite significant: I gained 30 lbs in 2015.

Yes, you read that right. Thirty.

I have since lost 5 of those lbs in the new year, however the truth remains – since moving back from China on December 2, 2014, I gained 30 full lbs. Needless to say, I was not kind to my body this past year. I’m now working on it.

Unrelated to the great weight gain of 2015, when I turned thirty back in September, I made a list of 30 goals, one of which was, “Shave my beard.” Not for any great cause necessarily – I mostly thought it would be a fun goal, one that would allow my face to breathe for a few days before going back to my beard-filled life.

Fast-forward to this weekend: I’m in the bathroom, post-haircut, using my new beard trimmer. I cut a chunk of hair out of my beard – an unfixable chunk. In a quick judgement call, I decided it would be the day to knock off, “Shave my beard,” from my list of goals. And so, I shaved.

As soon as the clean shave was complete, my eyes welled up and I looked into the mirror with angst and fear. I felt completely undesirable. I felt incredibly naked.

Cue the aforementioned conversation with my partner.

Partner: I want to cry.
Me: I want to cry too!
Partner: Wait, what? Why?

Me: Because I look like a troll! Why do you want to cry?
Partner: Because I love you even more. 

In a moment of, “I’m not worthy,” I realized so much of my pro-beard advocacy had come from 50% enjoying the beard and 50% enjoying the opportunity to hide any double chin(s) that existed under the surface.

I hadn’t seen a clean shave since March 2013.

An hour after the trimming of the beard, my partner and I walked to the grocery store, and over and over in my head, all I could do was repeat something he often says to me when I criticize myself or wade in a space of personal dissonance.

“We practice self-love in this house,” he says.

We practice self-love.

Self-love.

Last year, I wrote a post about my life of weight gain and loss, and reflected on the struggle I have consistently battled with food and self-worth. Here’s a snippet:

“If a cake pop falls in the forest, did the cake pop really ever exist at all?” Furthermore, if I fell down in a forest, what was I doing in that forest to begin with? Was I looking for cake pops? [Was I working out?] I digress. Years ago, I came to terms with the reality that what I saw in the mirror did not necessarily match up to what was actually happening with my body. And, at the center of this lack of congruence, existed a world of issues with control, self-confidence, and self love.

(June 16, 2015)

Whichever house you reside (figuratively and literally), I implore you to practice love. And to practice self-care. Rereading the piece above was particularly important for me last night. With my beardlessness comes great vulnerability.

Here’s to growing my beard back over the next few weeks, and not because I’m hiding behind it or need it to calm my nerves. Here’s to growing my beard back over the next few weeks, and constantly reminding myself that my beauty and worth are truly up to me. Here’s to growing my confidence, and marching onward toward a place of love and self-truth. Ultimately, here’s to resolve, and resolving beautifully.

Learning to love yourself in all forms, shapes, and sizes is one of the toughest and most rewarding fetes one can endure. I’m certainly well on my way.

So fresh and so clean-clean,

Michael

unnamed

 

My elementary school bully renamed me, “Gay Boy.”

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While my upbringing was drenched in a place of privilege and love, it was also one where I quickly learned the importance of navigating through the trenches of bullying.

At 30 years old, I am still navigating through these trenches.

Where I come from, “gay,” was a horrible thing. A curse. A sin. “A perversion,” some still argue. Needless to say, I resisted this reality for years, dodging any bullet which flew my way. And in addition to dodging metaphorical bullets, I also denied this reality by swearing up and down that I, Michael Anthony Goodman, was straight.

My elementary school bully disagreed. In fact, he never once referred to me as, “Michael.” Instead, “Gay Boy,” would become an identity. I accepted it.

And I avoided him at all cost.

My first encounter with homophobia appeared in fifth grade. From a social capital lens, I was a top tier elementary school attendee. Other kids copied my fashion (JNCO jeans), listened to my stories, and showed interest in the things I was interested in…everyone, expect my elementary school bully. My bully hated me. For two solid years, every time my bully saw me, he referred to me as, “Gay Boy,” pushing me into walls and imitating my, higher-pitched-though-not-yet-hit-puberty, stricken voice.

At some point, I even started to respond to this new identity. I was Gay Boy, no longer Michael Anthony Goodman, minus the “out gay” part, and in major fear of the repercussions of disagreeing with my bully. You didn’t disagree with your bully.

You couldn’t disagree with your bully.

You see, back in the day, there was something charming and rewarding about being a kid who had yet to hit puberty – no voice issues and no size issues. But when you hit puberty and one or both of these things had yet to change – all hell could break loose. And it did, on me. I avoided my bully at all cost, and made a conscious decision that I, Michael Anthony Goodman (or, “Gay Boy,” according to my bully), was not gay.

This moment still terrifies me today.

It terrifies me to remember the feelings of half-knowing who you are, yet half-knowing you couldn’t possibly be that. And my elementary school bully would not be the last bully I encountered through adolescence (and unfortunately, even adulthood). Just last night as I was heading home from dinner, and in preparation for the State of the Union, I watched a man drive through Logan Circle and shout, “FAGGOT,” at a guy who was trying to cross the street before the signal gave way.

Connections to our past (and our memories) are all around us.

On a cabinet behind my desk, I have a Post-It note that reads as follows:

Bullying has no place in our schools and communities.
Speak up for those who can’t.

This specific note was created for last year’s #DayOfSilence, however it was something that re-caught my eye last week as I walked into work. Furthermore, it’s something that has been on my mind as I continue to work in a world (specifically, the United States) and industry (education) where this kind of address is needed.

“Faggot”

“Fag”

“Gay Boy”

“Gay”

These words will not appear in an elementary school text book, however they existed as a giant part of my upbringing. Knowing the impact, how are these words still appearing in school environments across the country? Is this something we’re addressing? Of course, we can surmise multiple variations of how to answer these questions, however the truth remains as such:

Bullies continue to hold power over kids without. 

How does an 8-10 year old understand the idea that gay = insult? What example are you living for your kids, students, or communities? How do you approach bullying and oppression, from in-person to web-based violence? Are you even paying attention?

I’m reflecting on this part of my life journey today, as I was recently reminded of the power that bullying has over people. And in the spirit of living more authentic in 2016 and beyond, I am pushing myself to share more stories of who I am and how I’ve learned and developed. Here’s to all those gay boys out there (and gay boys-adjacent), just trying to evade their elementary school bully. March on.

Releasing, “Gay Boy,”

Michael

“The son who finds the courage to come out as who he is and the father whose love for that son overrides everything he’s been taught.”
– President Barack Obama, 2016 State of the Union

Hundreds of thousands have now shared these sentiments online via social media. This son, who President Obama references, is all of us, in some way.

Do you have the courage to override everything you’ve been taught?

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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