As PRIDE month comes to an end we wanted to remind this circle that Emaya is always celebrating women (all people, really) exactly for who they are. We are at a moment in this human experience where we stand on the precipice of change. We must elevate our spirit and expand the love and kindness for one another. It’s the only way to move forward so that we can live our lives filled with potential and beyond what we think our potential can be.
We invited one of our Back to HER graduates and special friend, Felicia Rochelle, to share her thoughts and experience to inspire us all to be better allies and loving support to the LGBTQ community.
Felicia, thank you for being YOU. We know you to be a strong and confident woman. You are wildly talented, the most loyal of friends and show up in your authenticity always.
What does HER mean to you?
FR: HER to me means being unapologetically myself! Knowing who I am, what I stand for, knowing my worth and never accepting anything short of it.
Do you think deeply knowing your HER has helped you to stand in your authenticity so powerfully?
FR: Absolutely! I know who I am and who I’ve always been. When I talk to people and relationships or dating comes up, I very confidently talk about dating both men and women. Some eyes light up and I can see their wheels turning in their head as if they’re saying “Oh! She dates women”.
Some ask questions, but most just nod as if they’re saying “cool”. Fortunately, I surround myself with pretty amazing and open-minded people. I know that it is not always the case for everyone but the great thing is, you can choose who you have in your life, who is in your circle and cut anything and anyone that is negative out of it. It is a power that we all have.
What does sexuality mean to you?
FR: For me this question is complicated and simple. It is different for everyone. I drew a blank initially on how to answer this but a few words come to mind and they are...authenticity, power, sexy, comfortable, secure, fluid, safe.
How do you own your sexuality and how can we as a circle honor other people’s sexuality or sexual preference more lovingly?
FR: I own my sexuality by being myself and being honest. If someone has an issue with my sexuality then that is on them and they obviously have some healing to do. It is none of my business what other people think of me because I know who I am.
In my journey I never felt that I needed to “come out”. I have ALWAYS been attracted to both men and women and the way that I see it is, if straight people don’t need to “come out” and announce their sexual preference than why do I. People need to understand that we are born this way just as they are born into their sexuality/sexual preference. If they think it is a choice, I challenge them to ask themselves, “At what age or moment in my life did I CHOOSE to be straight”? They didn’t. I guarantee they will say “I didn’t choose to be straight, I was born this way”. Exactly!
If others talk about sexuality as open as they talk about sports or food or restaurants, then it will flow and be as normal (I hate that word by the way) as the seasons changing and that’s how it should be. Society needs to definitely stop assuming that everyone is straight. Next time you are interested in someone’s dating life, maybe ask “are you dating anyone or attracted to anyone”? Instead of saying to a female “Do you have a boyfriend” or to a male “Do you have a girlfriend”?. Maybe reword your question and say “Do you have a partner”?
I think that as a circle it is important to respect each other and be kind to one another regardless of differences.
How are you celebrating the month of PRIDE this year?
FR: Long Beach Pride was a couple of weeks ago and for the past two years, one of my male straight friends hosted a party at his house. We all met up there, then we walked down to the parade with champagne in our hands to cheer everyone on and dance to the music. It is amazing how much love you feel just being there. Pretty much all of my friends that were there celebrating, are straight. It’s basically a big party with all different ethnicities and sexual preferences celebrating LOVE. It’s always a blast and next year I’m hoping to make the festival.
I live in Long Beach, California, which is one of the most diverse cities in the country. That being said it is very welcoming to all. In my neighborhood, we have rainbow crosswalks at a couple of intersections and Pride flags throughout the city and they are there all year long. I celebrate pride every day by just being myself. I have always been and always will be unapologetically ME.