This week on the blog we hear from one of our resident content creators, Steph Hansen. Steph is not only an incredible photographer (photos to prove it below) but a major advocate for the LGBTQ2S community. Continue reading more about Steph, her story and how you can live your truth below!
Let's dive into it!
Hi, I’m Steph! I use the pronouns she/her. I am many things, but I am a fur mom, a photographer, a born and raised Calgarian, a safe space and a connector. I believe in kindness, equality and respect. I use my voice and influence to advocate for mental health and the LGBTQ2S+ community and think that you can be an ally to all humans.
I grew up playing all the sports. At the age of 6, my dad gave me a golf club, a bat. Then, I tried figure skating, which very quickly turned into hockey. I was always the bigger kid, had short hair and didn’t feel like I fit in. The school was hard; I didn’t love it. Hockey was my escape. I could wear a mask and a bunch of goalie gear, and you couldn’t see me! Skip forward many years, stop playing hockey, stop wearing that physical mask, and now what?
The world isn’t always kind. It can be hard to find your way and even harder to find what you are passionate about. I feel fortunate. I feel like I found my passion and realize how I can make an impact. How did I find it? Great question! I got uncomfortable and pushed myself to grow. I lost a few friends through the years, gained many, and have a great support system of humans that will make me know when to not push and remind me to have kindness and forgiveness for myself.
Recently, I find myself having conversations with both friends and people who I have never met. These new people may only have heard me speak about inclusion and diversity, may have read an Instagram post, or maybe a blog just like this one, and they open up to me. I ask them, “what made them feel like they could open up to me?”. They tell me I am a safe space and made them feel welcome, valid and heard. Sometimes they ask more about my story, sometimes they just want to tell me about their story because they haven’t been able to tell anyone else. For example, someone recently told me that they are leaving their relationship because they realized they wanted to be with the same sex. I felt lucky to connect this person (with their permission, of course) with someone else who was along the same journey, just about a year ahead of them. They talk every day and are helping each other navigate their truths.
Why have I told you all of this? Because I want more safe spaces in this world, and I want people to grow. I want to bring awareness and tell my story in hopes that someone else reads it and realizes they are not alone. My favourite saying right now is, ‘Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Challenge yourself to grow and help someone, even just one person, be comfortable in their own skin and feel accepted and, most of all, LOVED.