Hey! It's Brian Terada here. I just wanted to take a second to tell you why I started Be Free. A few years back, I was reflecting on my coming out experience. I remember thinking I would lose all my friends and family if I were to be honest about who I am. Fortunately for me, the opposite happened. When I took the risk on love to be truthful and honest with my community, I was surrounded by love. The biggest thing I wished was that I would have known there were so many safe people to come out to all around me- because I would have done it sooner!
However, I know this isn't the experience that many people have when they come out. Oftentimes, people are rejected, disowned, mocked, and bullied- for doing the exact same thing that I did.
Because of both of these opposite situations, I found myself thinking about how important it is for people in the closet to know who the safe people in their lives are to come out to. But how could we help them know?
How about we make a shirt! And the shirt will say Be Free..because the person who wears it wants everyone else to know they can be free with them. Maybe Be Free can specifically mean "you are a safe person to come out to." I wanted to make Be Free mean you're a safe person to come out to, because then the whole LGBTQ+ community will know that from the jump.
So in the summer of 2016, I spent $1000.00 of my own money to make a bunch of shirts that say "Be Free". And the craziest thing happened- people from all over the country started ordering them, because they had been looking for a way to show their community that people could come out to them. They were craving a way to open this dialogue to help others Be Free.
Since then, the ball has just kept rolling. We started hosting Be Free Stories Nights in the Spring of 2017, and we haven't stopped since. These nights are a chance for anyone to come and share some of their story in hopes that we can better love and understand people who are different from themselves- and they are pure magic.
Literally, I don't think I've made it through one of these nights without hopeful tears shed because of the solidarity, vulnerability, and unity that we all get to participate in.
It was in these nights that I also discovered that Be Free begins with the LGBTQ+ coming out story, but it translates to stories of finding freedom for everyone. Since we began hearing stories about mental health, disease, immigration, political association, etc. we now say that Be Free means "you are a safe person to come out to...as anything!"
We've held over 20 of these events in Coffee shops, backyards, community centers, boutique shops, lululemons across multiple cities. There is even a Be Free Community that meets monthly out in Philadelphia! My hope is to establish more and more of these communities, so people never have to feel like they are going through their shit alone.
Anyway, I am more hopeful today for the future of Be Free and all that it has given and will continue to give to myself and to others. Doing this work fills me up, because I get to share the love that's been given to me with as many people as possible, and because of that we can mutually all be a little bit more free.