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Happy New Year!.

Happy New Year from Pride & Joy!  We hope you all had a safe, fun, and relaxing holiday season and that you are starting the year off with a positive mind and good health.  The start of the New Year is the time to reflect on what we have all accomplished over these last twelve months and come up with resolutions to look forward to in 2013.  In the last year we’ve seen the passage of marriage equality laws in new states and the election of the first openly gay U.S. Senator, Tammy Baldwin.  It will be exciting to see what gets accomplished in the next year.  At Pride & Joy we plan on continuing to bring you great products that celebrate Northampton and the LGBTQ community.  We will continue to develop strong relationships with our customers and strengthen ties with the Northampton community that we love so much.

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During the holiday season we focus a lot of time, energy, and affections towards our families.  It’s a time when we gather together with our blood relatives as well as our chosen families, which are especially prevalent in the LGBTQ community.  In today’s American society there are many different kinds of families with many new kinds of family structures.  However, there is still an overshadowing American family ideal of a husband, a wife and 2.5 kids that people have a lot of trouble abandoning for the truth.  The truth today is that families come in all different ethnicities, religions, genders, and sexual orientations and that there is no such thing as the perfect American family.  The only type of perfect family is one that is founded on the ideals of love and acceptance.  At Pride & Joy we appreciate and welcome all types of families and pride ourselves on the one that we have built within our business and with our valued customers.  This holiday season we are featuring many products that revolve around the inclusivity of different types of families including our new picture frames as well as holiday ornaments.  Be sure to stop by the store to check out these and many other family related items.

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Click here to check out our holiday gifts.

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Most people are familiar with “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving when stores are full of huge savings for consumers buying upcoming holiday gifts.  Well along with the traditional Friday shopping day there have been two additional days of savings added including “Cyber Monday” and more significantly, “Small Business Saturday.”  In an economy dominated by large corporations, huge brand names, and superstores people often forget about the importance of supporting small, locally owned businesses.  Northampton is a special place where small, local businesses line our main strip providing customers with high quality and unique products that you really just can’t find at big name stores.  Supporting local businesses helps to boost local economies which is important in times of economic struggles like the ones we presently face.  Pride & Joy is a local, small business, owned and operated by people who care greatly for Northampton and the people who live here.  We hope that this holiday season you will work to support the local economy and local businesses.  By supporting a local business over a big chain you are making positive changes in the local economy and helping to create a more sustainable economic system in general.  At Pride & Joy we have many great holiday products as well as our old favorites and we hope to see you this holiday season!

http://www.nohoprideandjoy.com

 

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As we all know by now, Barack Obama will be serving another 4 years as our president.  As a business we have outwardly supported his campaign and share the same beliefs and values he holds important.  This election wasn’t however, just about the president and there were some very significant advances made in law as well as congressional elections.  The balance of power in the Senate is now favored towards democrats.  The first openly gay woman, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin was elected to Senate.  She is also someone who spent a portion of her life in Northampton; she is a Smith College alum.  This election also showed us progress in the quest for marriage equality in the U.S. with three new states voting to recognize same sex marriages.  The three states that voted to recognize same sex marriage are Maine, Maryland, and Washington.  At the same time Minnesota voted to reject a constitutional amendment that would ban same sex marriage in their state.  The results of the election can be contributed to a true change of perspective in the U.S.  With a democratic president who holds equality as one of his core beliefs and a democratic controlled senate we can have hope that there will be positive moves toward equality for the LGBTQ community as well as others who face oppression in the U.S.  At Pride & Joy we want to take the time to appreciate all who went out and voted and showed their support.  We still have many Obama products, many of which are on sale at great prices so come down and check them out as well as our great new “We did it” bumper stickers.

http://www.nohoprideandjoy.com/

Yesterday was National Coming Out Day, and public figures, private citizens, writers, and bloggers across the country shared stories in honor of their coming out as LGBTQ. It would be impossible to list all of the inspiring posts that appeared yesterday, but we’d like to share a few of the best with you.

A smart, thoughtful, and compelling post from fellow WordPress blogger Eli Aaron on the complexity of coming out as gay and trans*/gender non-conforming: Coming Out Complicated

From Stef at Autostraddle (the second-largest lesbian online community in the world), “Coming Out as an Amorphous Weirdo” details what the author went through emotionally when she came to terms with her sexuality and made the decision to come out as queer to her family in her twenties.

The Coming Out Journal compiled and posted pages and pages of reader-submitted stories about their experiences coming out. The range of emotion one feels reading these stories from everyday people is truly astounding.

The editorial staff at the National Poetry Foundation compiled this well-curated list of queer love poems from across history in honor of National Coming Out Day. (NHPJ’s resident poetry nerd suggests checking out the Marilyn Hacker, D.A. Powell, Frank O’Hara, and Aphra Behn poems in particular.)

Huffington Post’s Gay Voices section featured two particularly powerful essays from prominent African American activists: “Coming Out in Two Acts: One Man’s Story of Family, Love, and Living Authentically” by Michael J. Brewer, and “Coming Out: Is It All About You” by Wade Davis, Jr. HuffPo also included a great piece on being out in the workplace by Andres T. Taipa.

And, though it was published in April, Longform’s Guide to Coming Out includes some amazing reads.

Did you read anything amazing yesterday? Share your links in the comments; we’d love to hear what else is out there.

 

If you’re an educator, you already know the importance of a safe, comfortable environment to the learning process. The bullying faced by LGBTQ and non-gender-conforming students has been making headlines for a handful of years now, particularly in the wake of the death of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi. But did you know that as recently as 2009, almost nine in ten LGBTQ students experienced bullying during school hours as elementary or high schoolers? Or that one in three students, when surveyed, reported skipping school during the previous month in order to avoid verbal abuse or the threat of direct violence during school hours? These statistics come from a survey of school climates completed over the course of ten years by the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN); frighteningly, the study showed little to no change in the prevalence of bullying between 1999 and 2009, despite the major strides the LGBTQ community has made toward full legal equality and inclusion in mainstream media during that decade. Older studies suggest that students in elementary, middle, and high schools hear homophobic slurs about twenty-six times a day. Of course, for some of these kids, the bullying doesn’t stop at the end of the school day; students living in unsupportive households face even more difficulty.

Obviously, being bullied makes it much harder for students to learn– so LGBTQ bullying is, at its heart, an issue of civil rights. In the United States, all children and teenagers have the right to a free education through the end of high school. If a queer-identified or trans* student isn’t safe from threats of violence or abusive language in the classroom and winds up skipping class to avoid bullying, then zie/she/he cannot possibly receive an education fully equal to that of hir/zir/her/his straight and/or cisgendered peers. Northampton’s Pride and Joy stands in solidarity with anyone working toward the end of bullying and the rise of fully equitable education for LGBTQ youth, and we’re here to serve as a community resource for students and teachers alike.

So what can YOU do to help create an inclusive classroom? Here are some ideas from the staff at Northampton’s Pride & Joy!

  • Display a safe space sticker on the door to your classroom or office, and make sure students struggling with bullies know they can come to you for support, advice, and/or assistance (you can find one at NHPJ).
  • Educate yourself on how gender, sexuality, and identity develop and function. Especially if you work with younger kids, you may find that some students who seek your guidance don’t yet have the vocabulary to talk about what makes them feel “different” from their peers. The previous link takes you to a detailed overview from the American Psychological Association aimed specifically at educators. It’s also a good idea to pick up some academic books on sexuality and gender in whatever age group you teach. We have a great book on our shelves called The New Gay Teenager that examines empowerment among LGBTQ teenagers and might give you a whole new perspective on the potential positive impacts of growing up as part of a sexual minority.
  • Keep a library in your classroom for your students, filled with books whose content reflects and encourages an inclusive environment. If you work with kindergarten or elementary schoolers the picture books, My Princess Boy, And Tango Makes Three, and Daddy, Poppa, and Me all make great choices! If you teach middle or high school, the young adult novel Annie On My Mind will likely resonate with many of your romantically minded students, and Alison Bechdel’s coming of age graphic memoir, Fun Home, might be a good option for mature, literary-minded high school seniors. Because LGBTQ representation on television leaves something to be desired even now, especially on shows aimed at kids and teens, for many young people, our first time relating to an LGBTQ character in art, literature, or the media comes from reading novels and memoirs. It’s also a great idea to keep a couple nonfiction resource books around to lend out to students who may need them. It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living, edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller (founders of the It Gets Better Project) makes a wonderful read for teenagers struggling to find acceptance. Kelly Huegel’s GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Teen is another excellent resource. These are all books we carry at Northampton’s Pride & Joy, among many, many others. We can also provide more specialized recommendations, and special order books for you if you want a specific title not already in the shop. Also: we’re always taking recommendations from customers for books we should be carrying, so if you have any titles you think belong on our shelves, please let us know!
  • Whenever you can, and in whatever way you can, express your respect for people of all identities, sexualities, and genders in front of your students. This doesn’t always need to be direct and verbal; it can be as simple as decorating your classroom with posters, magnets, and stickers that celebrate diversity and inclusiveness. Some shy students won’t come to a teacher for help with sensitive topics like gender and sexuality unless they’re absolutely certain they’ll be treated with respect and compassion, and even then, many may never tell you what they’re struggling with personally (or even that they’re struggling). The presence of a rainbow flag, an “End Bullying” bracelet or t-shirt, or a sticker reading “Different is not another word for wrong” or “Teach tolerance!” may help your LGBTQ students feel less alone, even if they don’t tell you so directly.
  • Get involved with your school’s gay-straight alliance, or spearhead the formation of one at your school. You can also register your GSA with Northampton’s Pride & Joy, so your students feel encouraged to visit our shop as a resource for community and literature (we’ll do guided tours of the store for GSAs, as well as special private shopping hours just for your group, upon request). Our store also offers a 10% discount for students in GSAs that have registered with us.

Hopefully these tips will prove useful. We hope you’ll come visit us sometime for more individualized recommendations for your classroom. If you have any additional tips for educators working toward LGBTQ-inclusive schools, or if you’re a student who wants to offer another perspective, please feel free to share in the comments! We welcome the opportunity to hear your thoughts on this important and timely issue.