We Were Once All Teenagers
We can all remember the trials and tribulations of being a teenager, and if you're a teenager now, we know it's not always easy. After my conversation with Jacob Toups, Executive Director of Rainbow Labs, I soon realized how much harder it might be for a queer or gender non conforming teenager to navigate the world.
The people we can picture in our lives when we were teenagers...parents, friends, classmates, teachers...all giving their input, both with and without words. Making "rules" while we were trying to figure out who we were. My heart dropped for a moment picturing my teenage self, navigating my life as it was, and trying to imagine what it would have been like if I had this other transformation to hold at the same time. Would I have had the capacity to handle it? How could a teenager handle something like this on their own?
Luckily there are people like Jacob Toups who have built organizations like Rainbow Labs, which emboldens Queer and Gender Nonconforming Youth to discover, curate, and experiment with the elements of a fulfilled life through community building and the lived experiences of mentors. Yes, mentors! A teenager's saving grace. A safe place to be seen and friends they can connect with to feel empowered. Rainbow Labs' vision for their community is for their youth to see themselves as co-creators of an equitable, inclusive, and progressive society.
What we also find so special about their program is they are designed by Queer and Gender Nonconforming (QGNC) youth for QGNC youth, which is led by a team of mentors who are trained in trauma-informed care, cultural competency, and youth development. An organization which truly understands what their community needs. This summer they have created a program called One Bold Summer asking QGNC Youth to be bold! Summer is a time to rejuvenate and create space for ourselves, so please share this news if you know someone who might benefit!
Someone like Eli, “I didn’t have anyone. I just kinda threw everything I had into school and ignored the rest of my life, so I didn’t realize I needed anything like that [a mentor] until I got here, then I was like ‘wow other people have people to look up to, and have representation’, but it was just me.”
While we continue to give 10% of our net sales to initiatives to help fight human trafficking, for the month of June we are also giving back $5 of every purchase of CliqOnU Chasing Rainbows and Candy Cloud Ready To Wear Nails to Rainbow Labs to celebrate Pride. So not only will you feel gorgeous in our nail art, but you'll also feel gorgeous inside, knowing you are helping our youth, our future. We're thrilled to partner with Rainbow Labs, and even more thrilled that an organization like this exists. Thank you Rainbow Labs for all that you do!
Did you have a mentor in your life when you were a teenager? Who helped lift you up? Please share in the comments below. You might just inspire someone!