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Dare to Be Different: Finding Courage in Community and Creativity

Nov 16, 2010

by queenofqueens

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Ever since I first heard about the It Gets Better Project — a viral video campaign initiated by sex columnist and activist Dan Savage to reach out and extend support to GLBTQ youth in light of the recent rash of teen suicides — I have been inspired by all the different people who have contributed their words and stories. The Queer Etsy Street Team has been working to raise awareness about this horrible epidemic. For months they have donated all the profits from their team shop to The Trevor Project — a suicide prevention hotline for teenagers.

Michelley, known on Etsy as QueenofQueens, is the leader and founder of the team and has put together an inspiring collection of stories from Queer Street Team members about the various ways in which art has helped them get through the tougher parts of life. Michelley lives in Los Angeles with her beloved partner. She is currently awaiting the ability to legally marry without a cross-country trek. An overview of Michelley’s creative compulsions, including her fine art and tattooing, can be seen on her website.

My favorite T-shirt when I was in 4th grade featured an illustration by cartoonist Sandra Boynton, of two roosters. One wore the typical comb that all roosters are born with. The other rooster proudly sported a black, plastic, comb in defiance of convention. Above them both were the words DARE TO BE DIFFERENT. Whenever I wore this shirt I felt wildly empowered and when other kids called me “weird” — which occurred frequently — I thanked them for what I believed was a high compliment.

 

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When I realized the true intentions behind the “compliments,” it eroded my courage to be myself. For a time during middle school I tried my very best to blend in. Most of my efforts were an epic failure. Though my designer jeans were Gloria Vanderbilt, they were a heinous kelly green velvet — a gift from Grandma at Christmas. (She tried.) Everyone else was sporting dark denim Jordache or Sassoon straight legs that never fit me. My wavy hair refused to be feathered Farrah Fawcett-style and I was far more interested in horses than in boys. As you can imagine, school was rarely enjoyable and home was hardly better.

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I cannot imagine how I would have found the strength to stay alive in the face of such constant hostility were it not for my discovery of new wave and punk. I was absolutely rabid for Adam Ant; he seemed to be the spirit of art and liberty personified and he was completely unafraid to be completely himself. Adam and the Ants introduced me to a variety of rebellious, expressive musicians and artists. I secretly longed to be so bold. I wanted to outwardly demonstrate who I really was.

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My ninth grade year was a nightmare. I was surrounded by three relentless bullies in my math class and their torment of me went unchecked all year by an ineffectual teacher. Their behavior culminated in an act of sexual harassment that mortified and humiliated me. Afterward, I couldn’t stop crying and wanted to die. After surviving their grotesque abuse I became determined to openly and unfailingly “wave my freak flag high.” I decided that if I was going to endure constant indignity, it was going to be on my terms. Over that summer I sought out the most punk clothes I could find (long before Hot Topic) and cut my hair radically short. When I walked through the cafeteria on the first day of school, a self-identified art-fag/punk, I was met with silence from my wide-eyed, stunned schoolmates. I’d never felt more self-assured.

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Claiming our space as creative people and choosing to survive in a world that tries to tear us down is the most revolutionary thing we can do. The artist and designer behind Feathered Nest Studio believes that “art gives me superpowers…okay, maybe not actual superhero strength or the ability to see through walls, but art gives me a space to be myself, to say this is what I make, this is what I believe in, this is who I am. It was because of my art that I finally felt at ease and found a place in my local gay and lesbian community. The very first time I went to my local women’s community center, I met a woman who wanted to start doing art shows at the building. Until then I had felt very isolated and had been searching for a way to feel comfortable in my own skin. That initial meeting led to working on a women’s community art show, which blossomed into a community arts program for women and children that I now run.”

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For many of us, art classes were true sanctuaries during adolescence. Being afforded a safe space to emote and express ourselves can offer a “test lab” of authenticity until we find our confidence as adults.  The designer behind River Wolfe Jewelry found a safe haven in her senior art class in Dallas, Texas. She says, “At home, I wasn’t encouraged to talk about my feelings. There was no room for my emotional needs to be met, and as a result I really had no idea what those needs and desires were. It was in Ms. Hudson’s art class that I discovered how to express myself using pictures. The project was to make a collage of dreams. Mine turned out to be a silhouette of myself with a huge city in the foreground, I was entering a city full of lights and opportunity and the process was very seductive. I wondered, could I really make it in a city like that? I had no idea this desire was inside of me until it revealed itself in the picture.

“I took my collage art to another level in private. I made another piece consisting of images and ideas that expressed freedom, feminism, and complete rejection of traditional gender roles. I was so proud of both of these that finally I began to understand myself. I hold this memory as one of my most sacred and profound experiences. Learning to express my innermost fears and desires with pictures enabled me to become the woman I am today.”

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Authenticity is a discipline that bestows the truest rewards. The awareness of this potential often presents itself subtly, as the visual artist behind Etsy shops Scarlet Tentacle and Lace and Sparrow shares with us: “I had been struggling with depression for several years and was reaching the end 
of my ability to maintain hope. I was taking a class that focused on the works of renowned Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. I came into class feeling like I was at the very bottom of whatever I could handle — and then our professor put on Kiarostami’s film, A Taste of Cherry. I experienced a profound moment of hope while watching this film. It wasn’t a promise that things would magically get better, but instead, it gave me a feeling that the world is wondrous and that I was not alone. That feeling, that hope, let me keep going for a little longer, and opened me to the possibilities of art to create change and make a difference.”

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e.e. cummings once said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” Unprecedented bullying has recently led to the tragic suicides of several young LGBT people. Embracing your essence and sharing your creativity with the world is never easy in the face of adversity, especially when facing harsh rejection from the mainstream. Despite my adolescent attempts at conformity, I grew up to be the rooster with the plastic comb: a working class, femme, lesbian, Latina artist with a punk rock provenance. My adolescence was painfully isolated in many ways, and there were many times when I nearly gave up. Every time I’m fortunate enough to connect with other artists and experience the beauty of their work, I’m glad I didn’t. I now know that I share history with scores of other defiant artists and courageous queer folk. I now know that I was never really alone.

Thanks so much to Michelley and the entire Queer Etsy Street Team for sharing their stories with us. If you or an LGBT youth you know is at risk of suicide, please contact the Trevor Project’s 24-hour hotline at 1-866-4-u-trevor. The Trevor Project is the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.

189 comments

  • petitehermine

    petitehermine said 7 years ago

    This is a great article. Unique people are the ones who lead us to discoveries.

  • VivaGailBeads

    VivaGailBeads said 7 years ago

    these are beautiful selections. thank you for the wonderful article!

  • batzy

    batzy said 7 years ago

    Great article, that is one of the great things about Etsy, you can find so many different great styles

  • StudioCybele

    StudioCybele said 7 years ago

    very cool. Great article too!

  • mokopo

    mokopo said 7 years ago

    Where can I find that chicken print, because it is FABULOUS!

  • ohthisnose

    ohthisnose said 7 years ago

    This is so good to see! Thank you!

  • jorgensenstudio

    jorgensenstudio said 7 years ago

    great article and very inspiring. Also great to see I am not the only one with a obsession for Adam Ant :)

  • justgivemepeace

    justgivemepeace said 7 years ago

    Very nice. Thank you!

  • dalaimomma

    dalaimomma said 7 years ago

    Loved the article! Every flower got a right to be bloomin'!

  • maclancy

    maclancy said 7 years ago

    thrilled to see this article...we must be aware of how this affects us all as a community and nation to recognize, support and rejoice in diversity!

  • soapymamma

    soapymamma said 7 years ago

    Thanks for sharing. Opening our hearts and perceptions and expressing beauty and compassion through our art moves us all along a progressive path toward loving our fellow humans more. Great article :)

  • FromTheRooftops

    FromTheRooftops said 7 years ago

    Beautifully written article and some lovely finds - thanks!

  • TefillahSerenity

    TefillahSerenity said 7 years ago

    This is an absolutely amazing story.. I would love to be apart of the group because I too can relate.. Wow. Very touching.. I'm so proud of what you have done and never given up HOPE on yourself and your dreams. Keep on creating and being that powerful force that you are. :)

  • ElephantTrunkStudio

    ElephantTrunkStudio said 7 years ago

    Thank you for sharing this article. Art is an amazing outlet and it is awesome to hear about the difference it made in your life. I often think of this quote: "Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others." -John F. Kennedy

  • maggiemaevintage

    maggiemaevintage said 7 years ago

    nice article... way to recover and be yourself, especially today we need everyone to stand up to bullies!

  • FromTheRooftops

    FromTheRooftops said 7 years ago

    @mokopo - http://www.etsy.com/listing/61393880/hilda-sees-things-differently-from-her

  • Lindensage

    Lindensage said 7 years ago

    Fantastic article...to stand up for yourself...

  • funkomavintage

    funkomavintage said 7 years ago

    Yes! so always, Keep on Keeping on.

  • ThePotterySyndicate

    ThePotterySyndicate said 7 years ago

    Word!

  • DevineCollectible

    DevineCollectible said 7 years ago

    Awe shucks, everybody is different if we all were the same life would be so very boring! peace, everyday brings you joy! Live life to it's fullest! Happy is inside! DevineCollectible

  • marsia

    marsia said 7 years ago

    Thanks for the well-written reminder that art is a viable alternative to despair, whatever your sexual orientation may be. Keep on keeping on!

  • choisette

    choisette said 7 years ago

    it's true, people tend to feel threatened by non-conformity, and often react to it in negative and often, destructive ways. but, fortunately, the world's a big place. there are so many big cities, such as san francisco, los angeles + london, where a person can enjoy the freedom to express oneself without fear of reprisal or derision.

  • calloohcallay

    calloohcallay said 7 years ago

    Oh the hell that is middle school. I hope that it's changing, but there's a long way to go. Thanks for a great article!

  • queenofqueens

    queenofqueens said 7 years ago

    Thank you everyone for your kind comments. I'm honored to be part of a team whose members possess not only talent but bravery as well. Thank you Morgan & etsy for recognizing the importance of this issue! xox

  • Niftic

    Niftic said 7 years ago

    I'll share with all, great message and wonderful inspiration to all who are they say, "a bit different."

  • BreatheCouture

    BreatheCouture said 7 years ago

    Loving it! What a boring world it would be if we were all the same and no one stood out. One of the reasons I do one of a kind is to always have something unique and different. Keep being uniquely you! :)

  • Alfonzi

    Alfonzi said 7 years ago

    love this article, and love that so many people have come together to inspire hope

  • rozzie

    rozzie said 7 years ago

    very artistic and unique!

  • VelveteenHabbit

    VelveteenHabbit said 7 years ago

    I'm so glad there are people with open hearts-glad glad glad I don't have to do middle school again!!!

  • RubySkeleton

    RubySkeleton said 7 years ago

    It really is a dare to be different. Those of us who take that dare are stronger than the ones that never do because they fear of what their "friends" might say. True self expression is what brings out the creativity in each & every one of us. No matter how "weird or freaky" it may be to others, it should be free, fearless, & unjudged. The conformists are too afraid to be different that they must bully the brave ones that are not afraid. Extremely powerful article & thank you for sharing!

  • SilverSistersStudio

    SilverSistersStudio said 7 years ago

    great article. Very interesting to see the progression of becomming who you really are, no mater what others think. Made me understand some of the reasons people enter the counter culture in a way I hadn't thought of before.

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 7 years ago

    Thank you for sharing. Beautiful stories, beautiful art. Amazing. No hate, only love.

  • EForestCreations

    EForestCreations said 7 years ago

    Such a wonderful inspiring article. I try and teach my kids everyday that different is cool and weird is great. I always said " A rainbow in black & white just wouldn't be as great, every color had to be different to make it magnificent" :-)

  • beachglassshop

    beachglassshop said 7 years ago

    great article - dare to be different - something I should think about!

  • nowonder

    nowonder said 7 years ago

    Fun to read! Its always best to do what you're most comfterble with.

  • verdigreen

    verdigreen said 7 years ago

    Thank you thank you thank you for baring yourself in this article. It is a touching reminder that we can rise above.

  • riverwolfeartjewelry

    riverwolfeartjewelry said 7 years ago

    Thank you ETSY for providing a space where we can all thrive and realize our true potential.

  • creativityismessy

    creativityismessy said 7 years ago

    What an inspiring and wonderfully written article. It took me too many years to feel comfortable in my own skin and just "own" who it is I really am. And now with an 12 year old daughter I am trying so hard to encourage her to be who she really is and try not to take it too hard when people are too ignorant to understand.

  • PlumeandPetals

    PlumeandPetals said 7 years ago

    Love the first painting! so inspiring =)

  • 2TrickPony

    2TrickPony said 7 years ago

    thanks to everyone involved for this inspiring article.

  • thepapermoonstudio

    thepapermoonstudio said 7 years ago

    Very inspiring..love it!

  • IslaNewYork

    IslaNewYork said 7 years ago

    Wow, this is a truly inspiring story! I think there's always a silver lining to even the darkest clouds :) Thanks so much for sharing this personal story!

  • Mclovebuddy

    Mclovebuddy said 7 years ago

    wonderful! thanks so much. :D

  • yaelfran

    yaelfran said 7 years ago

    Wonderful article, thank you for share it with all of us!!

  • PoleStar

    PoleStar said 7 years ago

    Fantastic piece. I hope to teach my boys the same thing, to stand up for themselves and what is right no matter who they feel they are, and to always know they have a sheltering place at home where we will always be there for them, find alternatives to problems and defend them to the last.

  • Krystyna81

    Krystyna81 said 7 years ago

    I am so honored to be surrounded by creative individuals in my life, many of whom are LGBT, and proud of it. They are dedicated to their partners, hard workers, amazing artists. It pains me when other people have an issue with another person's sexuality. How in ANY way does it effect YOUR life? Congratulations on the well written and thought-provoking article. I hope that every child, or adult, who needs to hear "it does get better", hears it today.

  • OneLittleHouse

    OneLittleHouse said 7 years ago

    i enjoyed reading this - thank you! :))

  • SkyDreams

    SkyDreams said 7 years ago

    Great article! Thank you for sharing it with us.

  • simplyworn

    simplyworn said 7 years ago

    lovely article and pieces of art thank you for sharing this!

  • AllThatIAm

    AllThatIAm said 7 years ago

    Great article! Thanks to Etsy for showing their support for the queer community and how our lives have been affected by art. Being who you are, in peace and safety, is so very important and every step we take in that direction is a big one.

  • beadfreaky

    beadfreaky said 7 years ago

    Thanks for this inspiring article! We all need that assurance to be ourselves and to love ourselves. And art is the best way ( that I know of at least ) to let out some of what's inside.

  • lovelygifts

    lovelygifts said 7 years ago

    Great article

  • monocotoleydon

    monocotoleydon said 7 years ago

    Thank you for a beautiful article on a topic very close to my heart. I love that Etsy has a strong queer community and that it's a place that welcomes us all. I think that for many of us the act of creating ourselves and the act of creating our art can have strong parallels, and it's wonderful to see this process in others, as I've found it in myself.

  • SHAbang

    SHAbang said 7 years ago

    For me as a parent, its important to start teaching acceptance at a young age - everyone is different & there is nothing wrong with it. I've already run into other parents who say they would never let their kids - some of whom are still infants - hang around certain people, and not only does it make me angry, it makes me sad. We can do so much when children are young to prevent closed minded ways of thinking before they even start school.

  • VelvetBitchOriginals

    VelvetBitchOriginals said 7 years ago

    Thank you for your amazing article! What an awesome world it would be if everyone could feel safe enough to really be themselves...

  • OxOriginalArtJewelry

    OxOriginalArtJewelry said 7 years ago

    Growing up is sooo difficult. I, too, developed a passion for art early and found it helped me through many difficult times. Thanks for sharing your stories and struggles.

  • ColoradoGirlGear

    ColoradoGirlGear said 7 years ago

    I was always the "weird" and "different" kid; so this article hit really close to home. I didn't want to wear cookie cutter clothes or do the cookie cutter job and lead a normal lifestyle. Now, I am part of a great community that understands and life at 30 isn't as weird as it was when I was 16 :)

  • sharonclancydesigns

    sharonclancydesigns said 7 years ago

    Thanks for this great article Morgan. I love hearing stories about how art has helped so many people get through rough times, enabling them to creatively express their deepest emotions. I find it tragic, that the art programs have been cut from most of the public schools, as if to say it's the least important thing for students. This proves the contrary. Thanks so much for sharing...love the artwork here as well.

  • arsniccandy

    arsniccandy said 7 years ago

    Such a close to home and familiar story......brought tears to my eyes. In result I turned into a goth queen when I was in high school:) Now I am a dancer/clothing designer/maker:) You are fabulously amazing!!

  • cheapherveleger

    cheapherveleger said 7 years ago

    Cool idea! Thanks for sharing! http://www.cheap-herve-leger.com

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 said 7 years ago

    It's a wonder any of us survived middle school! Great article.

  • FunWithNeedles

    FunWithNeedles said 7 years ago

    beautiful article... haters gonna hate! wonderful wonderful, what makes you different makes you beautiful!

  • deepfried

    deepfried said 7 years ago

    This is absolutely excellent. You had me at the donations but Adam and the Ants too? After my own heart!! Excellent Etsy Team, great article and great picks. Wonderful. Thank you for doing what you do. Kimmy

  • ScarletIvySoaps

    ScarletIvySoaps said 7 years ago

    Amazingly well written article. I am in tears. <3

  • VeloNoir

    VeloNoir said 7 years ago

    Inspiring article... The world would be a boring place if nobody dared to be different. Diversity makes life more vibrant. Also, this quote comes to mind, "I may not be better than other people, but at least I'm different." --Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 7 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your story! Wonderful Art!

  • GalleonGal

    GalleonGal said 7 years ago

    Teens need to be given the opportunity to grow and build their self esteem, Once I was a shy teen, yet family encouraged me to grow, My art, books, imagination were my friends

  • chrispysmom

    chrispysmom said 7 years ago

    My son is going through middle school now. He is an artist and individual spirit who definitely stands out and pays the price. Thank you for this.

  • BunnyKissd

    BunnyKissd said 7 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your story, Michelley!

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat said 7 years ago

    Acceptance & tolerance doesn't make you a lesser person, it makes the world a greater place.

  • BellaPuzzlesToo

    BellaPuzzlesToo said 7 years ago

    Right on. Thank you.

  • smagnet

    smagnet said 7 years ago

    It's so great to see this kind of politicized art on etsy. It feels really fabulous to see art connected to anti-racist, queer-positive and feminist action. I really crave finding this type of work in the craft world - and that's not always an easy task. Your article really quenched the place in me tonight that I didn't even know was thirsty.

  • Emmamaha

    Emmamaha said 7 years ago

    Thank you for sharing Michelley. Your story is poignant and true to our time (sadly) Thank you for all those who brought it to light here. Perhaps a lost soul will read it and it will bring some hope:)

  • Lotsofjewels

    Lotsofjewels said 7 years ago

    I live in Central Pennsylvania, a very very conservative and uptight place! Recently, a young teen boy committed suicide because of kids bullying him about being different and gay. Watching his classmates mourn him and talk about his talent and kindness was heartbreaking. Hearing that the other so-called "normal" kids called him a "freak" because of his hair and clothes really made me furious. Thanks for this thought provoking article and a glimpse into your life.

  • KhaliNouveau

    KhaliNouveau said 7 years ago

    Thanks for a awesome article. Truly enjoyed it.

  • RusticGoth

    RusticGoth said 7 years ago

    Thank you for sharing. It's informative for anyone who feels ostracized.

  • LouisestArt

    LouisestArt said 7 years ago

    Thank you! Great article.

  • LouisestArt

    LouisestArt said 7 years ago

    “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.†Thanks for the article!

  • labellefairy

    labellefairy said 7 years ago

    Everyone has a best time in their life for some it will always be the glory days of high school, for others the best days happen later, like they have to me! thanks

  • aleiher

    aleiher said 7 years ago

    Thank you thank you thank you!

  • EmmasDestiny

    EmmasDestiny said 7 years ago

    Thank all of you for your comments. I am proud to be part of the Etsy Queer Team and this article is simply a way to remind all of us how important it is to respect and honor difference.

  • MarquesaJen

    MarquesaJen said 7 years ago

    Rock on! I remember the hell that was middle school and freshman year of high school. If I hadn't found punk music and other freaks I don't know where I'd be right now!

  • medicineproductions

    medicineproductions said 7 years ago

    Its important to love who you are and Express yourself!! Thanks for an inspiring article! :)

  • sparrowsalvage

    sparrowsalvage said 7 years ago

    Thank you so much for this beautiful story. I grew up different too, as did my brother. Our parents weren't exactly the Cleavers; in the 1970s mum wore disco fashion proudly and Dad dressed like an 1850s farmer. And we lived in a pink house. And my aunt was the town hippy. I guess you could say I never really knew normal! I've never been afraid to be who I am. From D&D fantasy nerd, to goth, street punk, hippy, feral (that's an Australian blend of punk and hippy) and all over and back again. In the late 1990s I because heavily depressed and suicidal purely because I didn't 'sit' with the rest of the world, but thankfully I came through, purely with the help of my friends. Now I just get to say 'I'm an artist' and it's like a free pass to be crazy! Fly that freak flag high, and never let the muggles bring you down!

  • roseshellojewellery

    roseshellojewellery said 7 years ago

    Great article!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 7 years ago

    Fabulous article, I think we all have to maintain hope that life can be better in the future.

  • sweetjane

    sweetjane said 7 years ago

    Thank God you got through your tough period growing up and are happy with who you are today. I know a lot of people can relate to parts of your story. Take care of yourself!

  • ThirdHandArt

    ThirdHandArt said 7 years ago

    Beautiful article!

  • TCaponePhoto

    TCaponePhoto said 7 years ago

    Such a touching and beautiful article... thank you to all for sharing your stories. I can relate to much of it, being the, shy, quiet "geeky nerd" in high school. Funny thing is, those who picked on me are still right where they were 20 years ago (and, oddly, all married to one another) and I'm living in an amazing city that I love, creating art that I love (and hope others do), with good friends who I love and who love me for who I am. It took a long time for me to be comfortable just being me but I'm so happy I got to that place. Thank you again for sharing... I'm so glad I started my day reading this. *tracey*

  • Gynx

    Gynx said 7 years ago

    What a great article. Thanks!

  • FreshUrbanVintage

    FreshUrbanVintage said 7 years ago

    Super, thanks.

  • MurDesign

    MurDesign said 7 years ago

    Tv channels have made a video to young gay people "Kaikki muuttuu paremmaksi" here in Finland, inspired to that "it gets better". Nice that someone is doing something atleast..

  • fandanglz

    fandanglz said 7 years ago

    This is a wonderful article that will hopefully give great inspiration to lots of "unique" people! I Love It!

  • rakshniyavintage

    rakshniyavintage said 7 years ago

    yes!! this is exactly what's so needed! I'm so happy to read this article, thank you for making such an amazing effort :)

  • Vanessa Admin

    Vanessa said 7 years ago

    Art class in high school can be such a refuge. Yet another reason why it's so important that we continue to fund art programs in public schools! Thank you so much for sharing your stories.

  • jewelrybymichal

    jewelrybymichal said 7 years ago

    Very good article.touching!!!

  • BigSkyArtworks

    BigSkyArtworks said 7 years ago

    My sons are all "different." While none of them is LGBT (at least, as far as I know), each of them lived far outside the box they were expected to live in. They suffered abuse in high school - but they emerged from the fire as strong, creative, individual thinkers. Thank you for sharing your experience - and reminding us all that "it gets better."

  • debidoesdesign

    debidoesdesign said 7 years ago

    great article... inspiring

  • MetroGypsy

    MetroGypsy said 7 years ago

    Beautiful Morgan!

  • thecraftparty

    thecraftparty said 7 years ago

    It took me three tries to read this whole post because I kept tearing up. Though I'm not gay, I was bullied in school and Michelley's story really resonated with me. "Claiming our space as creative people and choosing to survive in a world that tries to tear us down is the most revolutionary thing we can do." Yes! Thanks to the Queer Street Team & Etsy for speaking out on this incredibly important issue.

  • stonz

    stonz said 7 years ago

    Bravo. A wonderful article~ thank you for sharing your stories.

  • catbirdcraft

    catbirdcraft said 7 years ago

    "I can relate to much of it, being the, shy, quiet "geeky nerd" in high school. Funny thing is, those who picked on me are still right where they were 20 years ago (and, oddly, all married to one another) and I'm living in an amazing city that I love, creating art that I love (and hope others do), with good friends who I love and who love me for who I am. It took a long time for me to be comfortable just being me but I'm so happy I got to that place." TCaponePhoto ^ I can relate to this so much too. It's easy now to forget how vile life was in high school (it was quite a while ago for me!) but for those of you out there that are still going through it please believe it WILL get better, it will because it has for ones like us :) Great article. Thank you QST and Etsy.

  • dragonhouseofyuen

    dragonhouseofyuen said 7 years ago

    a fantastic article!

  • compassionmalas

    compassionmalas said 7 years ago

    What a great article! I'm so inspired to read the stories of people who fought to be who they are, unoppressed. It makes me really wish everyone could have a good art class, choir, drama department, or band in high school and before, when people are really struggling to feel comfortable. Be well!

  • OurDecay

    OurDecay said 7 years ago

    love love love

  • Miclason

    Miclason said 7 years ago

    my grandma used to say: "Weird" is a petty person´s way of saying "unique"

  • TheHouseOfTerez

    TheHouseOfTerez said 7 years ago

    I am sure that the rest of your article was awe-inspiring, but I simply could not go on after reading this: "Claiming Our Space As Creative People And CHOOSING TO SURVIVE In A World That TRIES To Tear Us Down Is THE MOST REVOLUTIONARY THING WE CAN DO." That statement alone speaks volumes to me. When I am able to compose myself a little more, I may go back and read the rest, but as of now, what I've quoted above, is to me, the core feeling of your article. Please do not be offended by my posting your quote on my facebook page. I will not claim it as my own, but my fellow artists NEED your inspirational words, as do I. Thank you. I am filled with emotion and intention at this moment.

  • 1AEON

    1AEON said 7 years ago

    h8te..wow!

  • queenofqueens

    queenofqueens said 7 years ago

    Thank you all again so much for taking the time to read this article. I'm overwhelmed by the kindness of your comments and so excited to "meet" more members of my tribe. :) With much love and gratitude.

  • SavoyFaire

    SavoyFaire said 7 years ago

    At a church craft fair a couple of years ago there was a teenage boy sitting with his mom I figured helping her. They were selling the prettiest bead bracelets for like $5 so I stopped to buy one. The hours of work must have been a lot and I love supporting people who try to support their church, charity, etc. I said to my friend I have to have one of these GORGEOUS Bracelets! The look on the mom's face was not something I'll soon forget as the boy jumped to his feet in shock! They had both been sitting looking kind of dejected I thought and it almost turned me off but alas I forge on! Anyways after I stated that the mom said her son makes them! I was pouring out compliments and held the red one I wanted to wear for Christmas but pretended I couldn't decide. Another shopper was going by and chimed in and also agreed when seeing the boy as the creator and bought another one! I let her go ahead and finish her transaction with him and while he packed her bracelet his mom told me quietly she couldn't thank me enough and I told her I genuinely thought they were beautiful. (For 5 bucks to make someone's day and encourage them in their hobby was priceless to me). She said he had been made fun of by his friends and school mates for this hobby. I told her he could be come a metalsmith or jeweler some day who knows and to let them know that as he was now a successful seller!

  • PassionForVintage

    PassionForVintage said 7 years ago

    A wonderful article. Thank you for sharing.

  • JackiesDream

    JackiesDream said 7 years ago

    Thank you for this article. It is important to make people understand that it is ok to be different. It is sad to think that as much as the world has supposed to have changed for the better, tormenting someone who is diffent is still accepted as cool. I am a 44 year old woman with a husband and a 17 year daughter, who just happens to have Cerebral Palsy and the CP is all that people seem to see. I hope that people will one day be able to see with their hearts not just their eyes!

  • NOLAdreadfulll

    NOLAdreadfulll said 7 years ago

    Nice :)

  • bluebicicletta

    bluebicicletta said 7 years ago

    what a great article here. I can't agree more! I think a lot of us artists went through a weirdo phase, and it's hard to see out of it and find a way to create your own self. I applaud anyone who does!

  • SMIRNOFFdesignSTUDIO

    SMIRNOFFdesignSTUDIO said 7 years ago

    AMAZING ARTICLE! I'M PROUD TO BE DIFFERENT,CREATIVE,WEIRD,CRAZY (WHATEVER IT'S CALLED) IN ALL ASPECT OF MY LIFE... AND MAKE A LIFE MORE BRIGHT, MEANINGFUL AND HAPPY AROUND ME, MY LOVED ONE AND FRIENDS. GOOD LUCK and BE INSPIRED. :))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

  • breations

    breations said 7 years ago

    great article and very inspiring.

  • BPvintage

    BPvintage said 7 years ago

    excellent!!

  • thebadgerset

    thebadgerset said 7 years ago

    Brilliant article, be inspired by anything and everything, be unique, love yourself. Exactly what Etsy is all about, and what life should be about!

  • cooljewelrydesign

    cooljewelrydesign said 7 years ago

    This collection is so "everyone." Face it. We all need to rejoice in self-discovery, offbeat humor, accepting eccentric (that would be my norm) and allowing "others" who we don't necessarily understand..."in." What a treat to discover another perspective. One that opens minds for deep inspection Loved the article...(let us reread it weekly)

  • aurorajewel

    aurorajewel said 7 years ago

    A truly inspiring article! My greatest respect goes to those who have known these struggles,& have have grown to show the world just how special they are. I feel how deprived we would have been not knowing those who have had to stand up to those whose ignorance is so sad for them.

  • ilovewhatilove

    ilovewhatilove said 7 years ago

    thx for sharing=)

  • ilovewhatilove

    ilovewhatilove said 7 years ago

    thx for sharing=)

  • bonni1982

    bonni1982 said 7 years ago

    great article! thank youx

  • destash4u

    destash4u said 7 years ago

    Wonderful ARTicle!! So glad to be a part of the Queer Etsy Street Team! Paz!! xo

  • SEOWebDesign

    SEOWebDesign said 7 years ago

    Thank you for a well-written intelligent article. Becoming real and authentic is never easy but some go through harder times than others. The world is full of fear and hatred. Sadly, the expression of that fear often is the bullying and intimidation of anyone who dares to be different and authentic. e.e. cummings wrote, "it takes a lot of courage to grow up and become who you really are."

  • redemptionart

    redemptionart said 7 years ago

    Okay, are we allowed to cry while reading interviews? If not then I guess someone has to give me a ticket...crying while under the influence! ha! ha! Just had heart to heart with my wonderfully sensitive granddaughter who is concerned about a friend who is gay and being bullied..interesting thing, they do art together, she said that's when (friend) is really happy! I am posting this on her fb page. Blessings on you, your art, your shop and all whom you minister to...

  • olana11

    olana11 said 7 years ago

    Wild article-reminds me SO much of my own youth-struggling to be me.( I laughed at "long before Hot Topic-I remember those days...) And now I watch my own daughter go through it. Diversity is what makes us beautiful. thx for the words and the collection!

  • sofisticata

    sofisticata said 7 years ago

    I like the chicken print :)

  • GratitudeLady

    GratitudeLady said 7 years ago

    Beautiful article! This ol' lady hopes to join your group soon. Art has always been the expression of healing in my life and that of some many others of us who spent so many years searching for ourselves! Thank you! michaelann

  • ikabags

    ikabags said 7 years ago

    Well done and great article ! Many thanks for sharing !

  • mojosewsew

    mojosewsew said 7 years ago

    This article was so refreshing. I used to idolise Adam Ant and, indeed, had my "different" moments. I then began to blend in with evereybody else, and gave up. After reading this article, I have decided that I need to unleash my inner-self again.... I have become boring and I don't like it!!!!! Thankyou xx

  • sarahsquiltsncrafts

    sarahsquiltsncrafts said 7 years ago

    Children can be so cruel. The "target" doesn't even have to be "different", as I found out the hard way in my school years. "Against-ism" can be found everywhere, and many mistakenly think that re-establishes and reaffirms their own individuality and value. This can be seen in households, among small circles of people, between groups, political parties, between nations...

  • MonikaDesign

    MonikaDesign said 7 years ago

    Thsi is a GREAT article! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • RawEdgesStudio

    RawEdgesStudio said 7 years ago

    This article was so uplifting and inspiring. Learning that it is okay to be "different" and learning to love yourself as you are can be such a long journey. Even now, I still have to check-in with myself now and then and remind myself of this fact. Thank you for sharing your story Michelley!

  • fanfreluxe

    fanfreluxe said 7 years ago

    Great article! Thanks!

  • rokinronda

    rokinronda said 7 years ago

    I'm inspired to go on.....creating art is pure joy for me!

  • rokinronda

    rokinronda said 7 years ago

    My son was bullied.......I was excluded from art classes because of overcrowding......just started painting again.......

  • BettyVonBat

    BettyVonBat said 7 years ago

    This is a great article! Dare to be different, that's what I always live by.

  • WickedClayGirl

    WickedClayGirl said 7 years ago

    Viva la diferencia!

  • leesmith

    leesmith said 7 years ago

    Great article! I think a lot of artists come from a hard life and struggle we don't realize. It's nice to hear and share our experiences. Thanks for the posting.

  • jaipuronline

    jaipuronline said 7 years ago

    Very interesting............

  • Flyk

    Flyk said 7 years ago

    Oh, I love love love this article. I was in marching band for all of middle and high school, and, sadly, we were not the praise of my school ;-). I found myself in these types of situations often. Thank you for sharing.

  • faithnhope10

    faithnhope10 said 7 years ago

    I LOVE this story, best one yet! I am now going to check out your shop becasue you seem to have some very beautiful and unique gifts. You are very talented! I am going to have my daughter read this article as well, thank you so very much for sharing your story. Keep up the great work

  • handmaidencanada

    handmaidencanada said 7 years ago

    Very well said! Kudos to you for being so independent and strong from such a young age! I feel like I'm just coming into that space now...and I'm in my thirties. :) I have cared too much for too long about what everyone else thinks. It's time now to discover who I really am and honour that...to live my dreams. I am very excited about my new shop on Etsy, because I feel it will allow me to really delve into my own passion for creativity and hopefully bring joy and warmth to others along the way.

  • OldSchoolTools

    OldSchoolTools said 7 years ago

    Wonderful article! Being "different" (in any way) takes bravery...I applaud you for yours! I was a "weirdo" in school too...art, crafts, and punk rock gave me a way to express myself, for which I'm forever grateful. Were it not for the arts, I honestly don't know how I would have made it through adolescence at all... Stay free, strong, and 100% yourself...peace!

  • SnuggliMumCreations

    SnuggliMumCreations said 7 years ago

    What a Great Article... makes us realize more!

  • LindseyErinArt

    LindseyErinArt said 7 years ago

    I love the artwork shown in this article. I am a high school art teacher and these are great to show students for examples in my honors art classes. Thank you!!

  • SpaceAgeCeramix

    SpaceAgeCeramix said 7 years ago

    Gotta push the limits. (-:

  • CherylsTrueNature

    CherylsTrueNature said 7 years ago

    Imagine how quiet the woods would be if all the birds sang the same song. I hope you have a Wonder-Filled Day!!! Cheryl

  • Chatonia

    Chatonia said 7 years ago

    i love people that have the courage to be just their selves

  • kawaiiktsch

    kawaiiktsch said 7 years ago

    what a wonderful section, love the hearts embroidery piece!

  • helensadornments

    helensadornments said 6 years ago

    Lovely article and love the idea of the Trevor Project. I will have to get more info to see how i can help.

  • beadsbymiyuki

    beadsbymiyuki said 6 years ago

    Your article was very moving. Thanks for sharing!

  • UsagiRabbit

    UsagiRabbit said 6 years ago

    In high school, art class was always my haven as well. Lovely and inspiring article. I can certainly identify with the things you said. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  • scarr13

    scarr13 said 6 years ago

    YES. Thank you.

  • bmjnyc

    bmjnyc said 6 years ago

    Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring story. By doing so and promoting Trevor Project you are making it easier for future generations and that's amazing. Happy holidays.

  • topsyturvydesign

    topsyturvydesign said 6 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your story Michelley! You are a Queen of the Wild Frontier.

  • baconsquarefarm

    baconsquarefarm said 6 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your stories yea art~ just saw this article today would have responded sooner.

  • NancyvdBoom

    NancyvdBoom said 6 years ago

    Thanks for sharing. Wishing you wonderful holidays, enjoy!

  • Waterrose

    Waterrose said 6 years ago

    oh my...I can't believe I missed this insightful article. Thanks for writing it with such introspection and honesty.

  • TZain

    TZain said 6 years ago

    Beautiful art! Very inspiring!

  • pinkpoison74

    pinkpoison74 said 6 years ago

    I love the never give up tattoo thats super sweet! xoxo

  • retroreclaim

    retroreclaim said 6 years ago

    this is fantastic, I wish I had internet when I was a youth "daring to be different" in rural ontario, being queer and femme, and artzy in a small working class town is asking for it, I am so glad blogs and info exist like this today! great stuff!

  • jerise

    jerise said 6 years ago

    thank you so much, queenofqueens! the stories are important to share, and simply having us all out here is a statement in itself that things can (and do) get better.

  • NaturalEarthCraft

    NaturalEarthCraft said 6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your story. Things do get better for all of us...queer and straight.

  • ArabesqueAromas

    ArabesqueAromas said 6 years ago

    I Heart this!

  • ArabesqueAromas

    ArabesqueAromas said 6 years ago

    I Heart this!

  • ArabesqueAromas

    ArabesqueAromas said 6 years ago

    I Heart this!

  • ninalara

    ninalara said 6 years ago

    Nice designs

  • jdbrogdon

    jdbrogdon said 6 years ago

    I love the chicken print! :) good article.

  • galahad40

    galahad40 said 6 years ago

    Fabulous!

  • fasign

    fasign said 6 years ago

    Inspiring Article! I have tried hard to be myself, to follow my dream and dare to express who I am. And you make me feel I am not alone. Thank you!

  • GreenNotion

    GreenNotion said 6 years ago

    Thank you... and it DOES get better. I am proud of you for baring such personal things and for the strength which you have gathered over your journey. Wisdom in experience.... you can see this clearly in your writing. <3 Keep on keeping on

  • StyleDezigns

    StyleDezigns said 6 years ago

    I'm so happy to read this article. Thank you very much.

  • sisobaba

    sisobaba said 6 years ago

    May all our children have access to inspirational teachers, they make all the difference.

  • cloudkeeper

    cloudkeeper said 6 years ago

    An awesome post -- thanks so much for sharing!

  • Bumbleweedz

    Bumbleweedz said 6 years ago

    I am moved by this blog, I think I will print this one out.

  • PrettyLoot

    PrettyLoot said 6 years ago

    This was a wonderful article. I tried so hard to blend in when I was young, I think it only resulted in me being lost in the crowd. I'd have much rather been myself and been remembered ;-)

  • MaLaMiNaKaNo

    MaLaMiNaKaNo said 6 years ago

    Like it!

  • MaLaMiNaKaNo

    MaLaMiNaKaNo said 6 years ago

    Like it!

  • LANCERIKA

    LANCERIKA said 6 years ago

    We have the right to exist... merci for posting this awesome article! I wish to have the courage to be the Real*me*...art free us to be honest with our deeper feelings...is pretty hard to be accepted in our current world without being criticized or judged by people that do not understand why we are different from the norm. People are strange!

  • LANCERIKA

    LANCERIKA said 6 years ago

    We have the right to exist... merci for posting this awesome article! I wish to have the courage to be the Real*me*...art free us to be honest with our deeper feelings...is pretty hard to be accepted in our current world without being criticized or judged by people that do not understand why we are different from the norm. People are strange!

  • LysanderNViviana

    LysanderNViviana said 6 years ago

    Absolutely inspirational! Great article!

  • creationsbyks

    creationsbyks said 6 years ago

    Absolutely beautful, so inspirational! Thanks for sharing! I used to try so hard to be like everybody else, great story to all of those people like us out there!

  • CassidyStarr

    CassidyStarr said 6 years ago

    fantastically beautiful.

  • queenofqueens

    queenofqueens said 6 years ago

    Just came back to "visit" this article again after being away for awhile. I'm humbled by the kindness, coolness and openness of everyone who has posted here. I've read every one of your comments and I'm truly inspired by your stories, bravery and defiance. I'm so proud to be a part of such an exceptional community. Keep fighting the good fight, y'all. And TopsyTurvy, that's one of the best things anyone has ever said about me. ;) XOX QoQ

  • ThePackRatsAttic

    Ken Dayton from ThePackRatsAttic said 5 years ago

    As a very proud and out 56 year old gay man that lived thru similar fears but in a much different time in a small town, thank you for the fantastic blog. Much more....thank you for the groundbreaking efforts you and others of your generation helped make for the current one, so that they have the ability to live being WHO they are much more than any previous one.

  • sarahbithell1

    sarah bithell from sarahbithellcrafts said 4 years ago

    I really believe in the power of art and how it can heal or express feelings. The story where in-lighting and it is very important for them to reheard.

  • patriciaybarra

    Patricia Ybarra from SuperstitionTreasure said 4 years ago

    There have been times that I have tried to find solace in isolation. I have become convinced that it has been cathartic,but there persists an overwhelming fear that any original idea or concept I might have is doomed a premature death in solitary confinement.Creativity has been somewhat of an outlet to countermand this fear.

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