In the last year, I’ve begun my life as a member of the Smith College and Northampton communities.  Both communities foster acceptance and embrace the LGBTQ community with open arms and it has been an incredible experience to be able to connect in a way that has allowed me to be myself at all times and express myself freely.  Growing up on Cape Cod, it wasn’t difficult to be a gay teen but there was a certain heteronormative persona that I needed to put on in many settings such as work or school.  In Northampton, I’m able to be myself and just blend in with the beautiful, unique people who live here but when I’m in my hometown I stick out like a sore thumb.  The people walking down the streets of Northampton create a sea of uniqueness that flows freely and without restraint and it has been incredible to become a part of it.

Being a part of Pride and Joy has been one of the biggest influences of my integration into the Northampton community.  Being able to meet so many different kinds of people who are interested in our merchandise has been such a good experience so far and I look forward to getting to know even more of the community within my next three years at Smith.  It feels good to be a part of the sea of uniqueness walking down these beautiful streets.

Our popular slogan, “Northampton, Where the coffee is strong and so are the women” really stuck in my head as one of the first things I saw coming into Pride and Joy in my first days as a student in the area.  It really ecompasses my experience in Northampton as well as the experience of many others.