It’s the last day of Pride month and I’m in literal tears reading my friend Natalie Franke‘s new book Built to Belong which is available pretty much everywhere books are sold. So what do Pride, my tears, and Natalie’s book have in common? The message that you are worth being celebrated, you are all valuable, there is room for you at the table, there is strength in community, and we are all built to belong.
Why does Built to Belong resonate with me?
As a gay man who grew up in the rural Midwest, in a very conservative family (and community), I have been conditioned to feel as though I do not have a place. I have spent the majority of my life feeling like an outsider, and outcast, less than desirable, and unworthy of a seat at the table. I have seen others who “fit the mold” be praised, honored, and celebrated. This grew within me the desire for true connection. Something I had never experienced before.
In the queer community, there is an overwhelming sense of, and intentional seeking out of, Chosen Family. To me, intentionally celebrating, coming alongside, and advocating for others is choosing to be family rather than strangers.
It is a way to build a table at which everyone has a seat and everyone belongs.
It is a way to show you that you are unique. You are special. You are loved. And Every one of those things about you are worth celebrating.
As a photographer, my mission is to celebrate all people in their current state. To document the story you are writing. To celebrate the individuality of who you are.
If you believe you are Built to Belong, or need encouragement that this truth is yours to claim, grab your copy of Natalie’s book here. I’ll get you set up with early access to read the book before it gets shipped out.