No matter the season—or the reason—we always enjoy a good cup of tea.
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Since 1987, October 11th has been an important day for the LGBTQIA+ community. This year is the 31st anniversary of National Coming Out Day—a day that serves as a way for LGBTQIA+ identifying individuals to celebrate themselves, each other, and the people in their lives who support and love them for who they are.
To highlight this day, we asked one of our own, Eric Lerma, to share their coming out journey, what coming out means to them, and how living their truth helped them to empower others.
I am so indebted to this community. I have been afforded an infinite amount of lessons, virtues, and affirmations–more than I could have ever hoped to acquire. I would say that I’m most grateful for my ability to understand and navigate shame. I came out in a small, country town in the Central Valley of California. The community was small, and most were deeply closeted, and many of us had a multitude of shared experiences when it came to how we were treated by our peers. While I wouldn’t wish what some of us went through unto anyone, I’ve learned how to help people through their shame. I’ve learned how to empower and instill confidence in people when they maybe feel at their lowest, when they feel they don’t have a place in the world. I’ve learned to actively practice compassion and empathy. The LGBTQIA+ Community has empowered me to empower others.
The timing of my coming out wasn’t calculated or given too much thought, nor was it a particularly joyous occasion. For lack of better phrasing, I was very tired when I came out; exhausted even. So much of my energy was spent trying to keep my head down and not respond to any antagonistic behavior; the obscene gestures and comments in the locker room, the pointed questions attempting to get me to admit or confess my sexuality, being closely followed and taunted while I walked home from school, etc. I had been subject to and endured so many years of this harassment that most of my time in middle and high school was spent in a major depression. I remember there being a pretty distinct numbness at the time. This ultimately resulted in a sense of apathy regarding what people thought of me and a feeling of having nothing left to lose.
So I started telling the truth. I didn’t dodge the questions, I responded to the crass comments without filter or hesitation, and owned my identity. Pretty shortly after, most of the harassment and pestering subsided. It was no longer a secret that people could use against me.
I would start by saying that we shouldn’t use the word or words familial to “preferred” when it comes to Pronouns. It implies that it’s optional and subjective to each individual that person interacts with, which they’re not. You can prefer Coke over Pepsi. You can prefer Slack over email. But you don’t have a preference when it comes to your identity. That is concrete, objective, not up for debate, and should be respected as such. So, when it comes to asking someone about their pronouns, ask, “What are your Pronouns?”
“Coming out” is synonymous with living your truth. It is an act of self-care, self-love. It opens the door to self-discovery. It is one of the greatest gifts a person can give themselves.
First thing’s first, do it on your terms. Come out in a way that’s respectful and reflective of who you are or who you want to be and do so with confidence.
Second, give yourself the time you need. You aren’t on anyone’s schedule or agenda but your own. There is no right or wrong time to come out.
Third and lastly, don’t get hung up on the labels. Sexuality and gender are fluid and exist on a spectrum. You don’t have to speak in absolutes or choose an identifier. Your identity is yours and yours alone, and it is subject to evolution and change.
We all love cheese. And if you don’t love cheese, well, you just haven’t found the right kind for you. If you’re unlucky like me, however, cheese does not like you. Thankfully, we live in 2020, where plant-based cheese recipes are alive and well.
I have been dairy-free for a few years, and cheese is truly the food group I miss the most. As much as we try, we sometimes just can’t get vegan cheese to taste like the real thing. So, I recruited my dairy-loving, cow-consuming friends to be my taste-testers. Their brutal honesty helped me create some “fake” cheese that can actually compete with the real stuff.
I know what you’re thinking: is this real? Is it too good to be true? No nuts, no fat, and it tastes good? You’re in for a treat. No one can tell the difference between this recipe and their favorite gooey cheese sauce. This recipe makes a lot of sauce, so be ready to share and shock your dairy-loving friends.
The perfect side dish to go with your Impossible burger, these “cheese” potato fries will definitely take you to flavor-town. Whip up the sauce with cannellini beans, yeast, apple cider vinegar, and just add some seasonings to the potatoes for a healthy alternative to a classic meal.