#Pray for Orlando: My acts of solidarity

#Pray for Orlando: My acts of solidarity

What I did to reconnect with the community after the tragedy two years ago.


I've been at a point in my life where I don't want to be part of the LGBTPQA+ community. I don't want to have to always have to explain my sexuality to future partners or constantly defend my heritage to my family and those around me because "only white people are gay." I hate always living in fear that I will lose my job or be 'correctively' raped or beaten or killed just because of feelings I never wanted to have in the first place. My dreams of having a husband who loves me and children died the day I figured out that I love women too. I haven't been proud of my Bisexuality for so long now.

Two years ago, I jumped on Facebook and saw that a mass shooting occurred - targeting the LGBT&Beyond; community. The worst shooting in U.S. History; the LGBT 9/11. And my heart broke. It BROKE. Those were MY people. This happened to MY community. This was an attack on ME. This could've happened to ME. I saw that one of my good activist friends organized an impromptu vigil for the victims. I HAD to go. I HAD to act. I was terrified though.

To go out and support the fallen was to renounce the self-hate I've been feeling. This act could've put me directly in harms' way. What if protestors were down there - happy that 50 of my comrades are now dead? What if my boss turns on the news and sees me standing at a candlelight vigil for Gay people? What if my mother turns on the TV and cries because her black daughter is with a bunch white people supporting dead Gays?

I was scared of all these realities. I live with fears like this daily. But I needed to act. I needed to do SOMETHING. This was NOT going to be one of those things I wished I would have went to. This was NOT going to be another opportunity for my own fears to hold me back. I put on my rainbow bracelets, my Bisexual bracelets, my Asexual bracelets - and I got on the bus.

I went to the vigil and recorded it live to Facebook. During the vigil, one of the speakers encouraged everyone at the vigil to do an act of love. Love would be what conquers the evils done to us. I hugged my LGBT activist friends after the vigil was over. And I decided that my act of love would be a brave act of self-love. That was a day that I was going to be an out and proud LGBT individual.

So, wearing my bracelets and a ribbon commemorating the vigil, I got back on the bus. I ran errands. I walked the streets of Downtown Cleveland and Downtown Lakewood. I kept my head held high as people stared at my bracelets. I kept my emotions in check when the ONLY semblances in the city of this tragedy were the rainbow flag at half-staff over City Hall and a Funeral Home on W.112th Street. People went about their lives as if nothing happened. As if nothing historic or important was being reported all over the internet and local news stations.

But I wasn't shunned or beaten or raped. I arrived home safely, and with a determination to give myself the chance to love who I am. Because there are too many people that don't love who I am. And one day, I could be one of the faceless victims of another vicious Hate Crime such as this. If I can't accept that I am a Bisexual female, how will I ever find peace within myself?

I'm TIRED of hating myself. I'm TIRED of my self-hate holding me prisoner from finding happiness with a man and a woman of my dreams. My act of solidarity because of this tragedy is to live my life in pursuit of my own happiness - despite the fear and self-loathing within me. Because that's what the people in Pulse were doing. Living and loving and having fun despite the hate of the world around them.

I still pray for you Pulse. May God Bless all the victims and survivors of that tragedy.

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Customer Service Expert, Gary Brewster of Oneida Provides Tips for Displaying Appreciation to Your Customers

By taking a more direct and proactive approach to managing your customers, you can open up a new avenue of success for your business.


Customer relationships are a core part of your business success. Many businesses that outperform their competitors are just more responsive in this area. By taking a more direct and proactive approach to managing your customers, you can open up a new avenue of success for your business. How can you display genuine appreciation to them? Here are tips and practices from customer service expert and accomplished entrepreneur, Gary Brewster in Oneida, Tennessee that you can adopt.

Event Sponsorship

There are many small signs of appreciation you can show to customers, but hosting an event provides significant evidence to customers that your business genuinely acknowledges and cares for their support. With these events, you can treat customers as guests - which can be a great way to elevate your relationship with them. After these events, you can follow-up with your customers, build upon that relationship, and gain additional insights into their expectations.

Customized Products and Services

Customers will be pleasantly surprised to see products specifically catered to their preferences. This shows that you do respond to their feedback and are appreciative of the information they provide. Also, you are reinforcing the fact that your business firmly puts a priority on their needs and is committed to elevating their experience. You can personalize your products through a couple of means, including offering them in certain colors, modifications, labels, and more.

Use Handwritten Notes

A handwritten note is one of the best ways to convey authenticity in your messages. When you use this medium for sending messages of appreciation to your customers, it generates a more positive response. In a world saturated with emails, social media messages, and mobile text, a handwritten letter can stand out. You can work with your team in organizing a schedule where customers are sent handwritten notes. These can especially work great for the holiday season as customers are more receptive to goodwill messages during this time.

Develop a Loyalty Program

While your business benefits form loyalty programs, they also make the customer feel more appreciated. For your most consistent customers, you are sending the message to them that their loyalty has not gone unnoticed and that you are truly grateful. When repeat business is rewarded, the long-term benefits will be valuable. Instead of merely creating a loyalty program from scratch, consider doing research and recognize specific purchasing patterns within your customer base. You can then highlight certain products they favor and make that the focal point of your loyalty program.

When it comes to maintaining a high standard of customer service, communication and goodwill are valuable. Showing appreciation to your customers is more than simply communicating with them, but also conveying a general sense of commitment to their needs. Your business stands to gain immensely by developing this unique approach to customer service. Consider adding more of these elements as you build your customer service strategy with your team.

About Gary Brewster:

Gary Brewster in Oneida, Tennessee is an entrepreneur and commercial roofing expert. Driven by building excellent relationships, he takes pride in providing the best customer service possible. As a business owner, his goals include delivering exceptional service, solving complex problems, and giving back to the community. Outside of the office, Gary enjoys spending time on his family farm with his wife, children, and grandchildren.

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I Am Proud To Be An American, I Profess This Loud And Proud

This country is the land of opportunity, I am humbled and honored by those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for me to be able to have life, liberty and to pursue happiness.


This past summer, I was blessed enough to get to work in one of the most breath-taking places I have ever been, and I was doing one of the best jobs you could dream. I was in northeast Wyoming, working on a cattle ranch. Not only was I doing a job that I really enjoyed, but I also got the chance to go to some fun activities. One of the highlights was the Wyo Rodeo. Sheridan, Wyoming was alive with a cowboy enthusiasm, or at least more so than usual. The streets were full, and everyone was feeling great.

During the rodeo, an Army veteran skydived into the rodeo arena. This alone is cool, but his story was even more incredible.

He had lost both his legs in a mid-air collision when he was serving our country. As he descended into the arena, he brought a giant American flag with him. Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" was playing, and the crowd stood to honor this incredible man as he showed his love for his country. As all the first responders hurried to catch the flag and help this hero. They pulled all the edges of the flag tight. Everyone in the crowd was able to see this massive flag which only made them cheer louder. Not a single person wore a hat and every heart was covered by the right hand.

Being in the cowboy state at a rodeo with some of the most incredible people I have ever met made me realize again, I love our country.

I love America for infinite reasons. Mostly, I am allowed to travel alone or come to a whole new state to live and go to school. I am blessed to have the freedoms that are listed and protected by the Constitution. Because I am an American, and thus, free, I can travel, get an education, and have a say-so in what goes on in Washington. I am proud to be an American because I am free.

I am proud to be an American, I profess this loud and proud.

This country is the land of opportunity, I am humbled and honored by those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for me to be able to have life, liberty and to pursue happiness. This skydiving man who, despite having undergone some serious injuries, continues to show his love for our country by falling from the sky with the flag of the country he fought for, is a symbol of how incredibly resilient our country is and how much our freedom is worth. I urge you to reflect and find a reason each week why you're proud to be an American.

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