Archives for posts with tag: Massachusetts

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.


Click here to check out our holiday gifts.



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.

I previously blogged about how people seem to be coming out younger and younger but there are many people who still don’t come out until they are older.  Everyone goes through times of self discovery and self understanding, and these times occur at all different intervals in someone’s lifespan.  This can be related to gender, gender expression, as well as sexuality and sexual expression.  The term questioning, like queer, is another kind of umbrella term except it relates to an individual’s self discovery.  People who are questioning their sexuality deserve as much respect as any other member of the community but oftentimes they can be targeted negatively by people.  They can be seen as people who can’t make up their mind or if they are young they are seen as looking for attention or following some kind of trend.  That is how I was looked at when I first started openly questioning my sexuality.  My family thought it was part of my rebellious stage and that I was trying to get attention in school.  Self expression comes in many different forms whether it relates to our sexual expression, gender expression, or creative expression.  Just because an individual goes through a stage where they question themselves doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be taken seriously or their choice to change how they express themselves.

             Much of our individual life has been socially constructed through media and government, including the ways in which we express ourselves.  It’s socially acceptable to go through periods of self discovery but oftentimes this experience is taken away from those who choose to move away from the mainstream ideals and question their gender identity or their sexual identity.  For example, it is much more accepted for someone to go through religious questioning and experimentation than for an individual to choose to start exploring their gender by dressing in clothes that their gender doesn’t “typically” wear.  In fact, people can be removed from their housing or fired for their gender identity or expression.  People who are questioning deserve and often need the most support.  It isn’t someone’s job to pressure a questioning individual to come out but it is important for people to have someone to talk to, or to guide them when needed.  As members of the LGBTQ community, we often can relate to those who are questioning or beginning the coming out process and can be a lot of help without even realizing it.  People need to be encouraged to question their identities because so many people don’t realize how socially constructed our lives really are, so don’t be afraid to question what you’ve always been told!

Be sure to check out our website to look over some of our books as well as t-shirts that support individuals who are questioning!

Jane Lynch at Smith College

For those of you who missed her recent commencement speech at Smith College, take the time to watch it now (  She brings up many good points about life that anyone can apply to their daily life.  She discusses the importance of taking breaths and appreciating the moments that we are in.  She tells us to stop planning and to enjoy the time we have because more often than not our plans end up changing course.  She has recently written a book about her life that we carry in Pride and Joy which has gotten reviews and many people have really enjoyed what she has had to say.

Young people are coming out sooner and sooner each year due to the change in atmosphere surrounding the LGBTQ community.  Although it has become easier to come out at a young age, that level of self discovery is still very difficult for many teenagers.  The level of safety a young person faces also varies depending upon where he/she lives in the U.S.  What feels like nothing to one student could be really dangerous for another depending upon his/her location and community. There have been legislative steps taken to ensure that students are now safe to express themselves in any way they want.  Anti-bullying legislation varies state by state in strength and influence but regardless its existence does make a difference.

There are also many different resources for students that in the past didn’t exist.  There are programs implemented in schools like GSAs (Gay Straight Alliances) or Diversity Clubs where students can find guidance and a sense of community during the coming out process.  The internet is also full of valuable resources like websites that can connect students to helpful literature or programs in their area.  Northampton’s Pride and Joy is full of literature and gifts that are great resources for questioning and coming out youth as well as their families.

I came out when I was in the eighth grade and even though I grew up in Massachusetts in a fairly liberal town on Cape Cod it wasn’t an easy experience.  It involves a lot of self discovery and evaluation that is difficult to comprehend at such a young age.  Through most of my eighth grade year I was bullied pretty relentlessly because I was different and it was really difficult but once I got through that awkward junior high time period, everything looked up.  Once I became comfortable with myself, other people became comfortable with me.  Sometimes it can be difficult to find confidence within yourself when you barely know yourself but if you can find something that you’re passionate about then it will shine through and most of your differences will be forgotten.  No one should feel pressured to come out before they are ready but the more people willing to be themselves and take a stand for being different, the more positivity will surround the issue.  As our shirt says, “When in doubt, Come out!”

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.