30 Days of Pride with Kate Austin
For many people, coming out can be a difficult experience. Kate Austin (@kateaustinn) knows how painful it can be when the community you grew up in chooses not to accept you. As a LGBTQ+ blogger and advocate, she uses her platform to elevate the stories of queer individuals and provide a sense of connection and community.
Follow her for #kates30daysofpride, where each day she highlights a different LGBTQ+ story. It’s an inspiring example of how social media can be used to create a better, more inclusive, world. We caught up with Kate to chat about her project, her story, and how she came to live her most authentic self.
First off, introduce yourself.
I'm Kate Austin. I'm a Cleveland, Ohio native but now live in Philadephia's Gayborhood. My handle is @kateaustinn.
If you're comfortable, could you tell us a little about your own story? How old were you when you first came out and what was the initial response? How have you grown since then?
I came out about 5 years ago! I was 20 when I first started coming out to my friends. My friends were absolutely amazing and only wanted me happy. My parents are your typical midwestern religious parents who definitely were not happy to have a gay daughter. I was kicked out briefly, then allowed to move back in and pay rent. After 5 years of a really rocky relationship based on my sexuality, I decided to cut off all contact with my parents. I feel like I've grown because I no longer search for people's approval or acceptance and I don't try and make others comfortable by dimming my life. My happiness trumps all and living my life as authentically as possible is my number one goal.
How did you get the idea for 30 Days of Pride, and when did you start working on it?
I got the idea three years ago (wow!). Being a queer person is amazing and I wanted to show people how proud they can be, even coming from less than ideal situations/homes. When I first started doing it in 2016, it really didn't have too much substance. I was just posting rainbow themed photos but not really sharing much into my story. Last year was sort of the same. This year, I wanted it to be able to help and include more people. I realized that sharing my story helped so many and I wanted all types of other people in the community to have the same opportunity - their stories could reach so many more than just continuously telling mine could. It's been such an amazing experience seeing the responses and allowing others in the community to see themselves represented.
How has sharing other people's stories impacted your own story?
I get so emotional thinking about it. When I was going through the submissions, I was a crying mess. It's so beautiful how many of us go through so much hardship just for who we love but still decide to choose happiness and to persevere through it. It makes me so proud to be a part of such an inclusive, strong, brave, beautiful, unique community of people. I can't even put it into words.
What has the response to 30 Days of Pride been like, and why do you think people respond to your content?
The response has been insane. Growing up queer, I feel like we all have gone through phases of feeling so lonely and like nobody understands us and how we feel. By sharing all of these different stories, it shows that how you feel was never different and you are so much less alone than you realize. It's so special to feel a connection to others and I'm so grateful that social media gives us the opportunity to come together even from all different parts of the world! We all just want to feel accepted and loved and I feel like the 30 days of Pride gives everyone the opportunity to feel that way.
Do you consider your social media to be a tool for activism or self-expression (or both?)
Both! I use my platform to speak out on issues going on in our world that need to be talked about and I use it to express my own struggles and stories.
How do you think social media can be used as a force for good?
I think it has endless opportunities to be used for good. We use it to connect, share our stories, share our opinions, speak out on issues that need attention. As long as we always choose the good, social media is such an amazing tool.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Be kind to each other. We're all going through different struggles and all experiencing different things. If we choose kindness and spread light as much as we can, the world will be so much brighter.
And to my queer babes, I'm so proud of you all. Whether you're out and proud, closeted, questioning, scared or nervous- I'm so proud of you. Keep putting one foot in front of the other every single day and working towards your tomorrow. You are perfect, valid and strong and there is absolutely nothing wrong with who you are. All things in time. This is your month, hold that flag up high <3
Share some love for Kate in the comments!