June 2, 2017

“When we live as the most authentic version of ourselves, we create space to be understood and understand. We create a space that allows safety for self-expression. Self-expression builds confidence in who we are.”

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INSTAGRAM HANDLE: @gingerwazupb

1. Where are you from and where do you live now?

I am from Dayton, OH and I currently live in Columbus, OH. I travel between Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati and Toledo weekly for work. I consider myself a contributor and celebrator of any community I am fortunate enough to be a part of.

2. Tell me a little bit about what you spend most of your days doing.

I spend most of my days around people; interacting, learning, teaching, coaching, loving and celebrating one another. I run Operations for 12 restaurants called FUSIAN. We’re a fast-casual, customizable restaurant serving sushi rolls + bowls. We exist in 12 different communities throughout Ohio. I work with 300+ team members teaching our vision and coaching Operations – it’s a blast! I interact with hundreds of guests weekly and believe in the power of changing someone’s day by serving them food. I also love the opportunity to build teams; take groups of people with different talents, beliefs, passions and foster an environment where they can grow, support and achieve together. I spend a lot of time inside of our restaurants, or working directly with our teams. When I am not doing that, I am found in one other environment; a yoga studio. I am 10-days away from being a certified yoga teacher. I love yoga. I’ve practiced for 10+ years and it’s evolved as my daily outlet to be vulnerable and explore self-love. As a teacher, I witness people learning to love and accept themselves through yoga – it’s magical!

3. Why do you feel that the simple message of the Promote Love Movement is important?

Phew. Short and sweet: we need more love in this world. I believe our reality is generated by the energy that we contribute and in return receive. It’s a collection of the energy that is being expressed, an accumulation. If we project hate and negativity then it exists. If we project love, kindness and positivity then it exists. We have the power individually to create more love, kindness and most importantly safety in the world around us. If we each contribute, it adds up and collectively we change our reality. We need safety to explore and develop self-love, for ourselves and for others. This requires understanding and acceptance. Promote love pushes this message. More people need to hear this message to understand that they have a choice, and that they have freedom to explore what love and happiness looks like. We need safety to be the most authentic versions of ourselves without fear of judgement. When we are the most authentic version of ourselves, we better understand what love and happiness looks like. To me, this is what Promote Love stands for.

4. Tell me about your upbringing. Were you raised in church?

I wouldn’t say that I was raised in church, but I went to church A LOT. My parent’s first priority was to provide their three children with a great education. Because of that, I attended private Catholic Schools from grade school through College. My dad was raised Italian Catholic and my mother was raised Lutheran. My family was religious, but religion was never pushed on to me. I don’t consider myself a religious person, but I do believe in spirituality. I believe in a universal connection but I don’t resonate with one set of beliefs. Growing up, my parents offered enough freedom for me to be myself while also teaching me that I was responsible for the benefits and consequences of my own behavior. My parents were borderline hippies; growing up during the peace and love movement. They fostered an environment for me to ask curious questions and promoted making decisions on my own. My house was located near an Air Force Base, so diverse families often moved in/out of my neighborhood or school system. I was exposed to many diverse backgrounds and my parents always promoted me to understand, learn more and celebrate life. I am thankful for this background – it’s set me up to navigate the world with an open mind. I grew up with a friend from Nigeria, another friend raised in a traditional Vietnamese family, a best friend who was gay (who I met in Kindergarten and eventually came out to me in High School), my friends had different family dynamics – sometimes there was a mom and dad, just a dad, just a mom or maybe a mom that dated other women – and that was OK. My High School was extremely diverse, inner-city and predominately black/white. I learned a lot about the dynamic of being white vs. any other color in this world and the responsibility to break social “norms” and stereotypes. I went from being ignorant to differences, to being aware, to challenging the judgement that makes differences a bad thing. Differences should be embraced and celebrated! In college, I felt an obligation to learn and understand more; I started exploring other cultures; I studied Arabic, meditated with Buddhist, studied Women’s Studies, Anthropology and even opted for a Hindu religion class. I be-friended Japanese + Saudi Arabian exchange students at my college; I learned about their journey, their family and their values. It’s my personal goal to challenge the “norm” daily and learn how to live life a little more vibrantly.

5. Why do you think it is important to be your authentic self?

We have a lot to learn from one another. When we live as the most authentic version of ourselves, we create space to be understood and understand. We create a space that allows safety for self-expression. Self-expression builds confidence in who we are. If others witness this, it will inspire them to do the same. This requires understanding and the ability to strip labels good/bad, right/wrong from ourselves and other people. When we are able to live our truth, we see the world through that lens. When our lens is polished with authenticity, we’re able to identify honest opportunities to create love and happiness.

6. Why do you feel it is important for the LGBTQ community to have allies?

Allies provide support, and can be gateways into safety and education. The opposite of an ally is an enemy. Enemies generate hate, conflict and anger. Allies promote love and support. Allies are key to providing support and safety while opening up opportunities for enemies to become educated. People can go from enemies to allies by simply understanding one another and respecting one another. Allies help bridge relationships and create new opportunities for understanding. It’s important because people shouldn’t feel alone while exploring what it means to live an authentic life. We need each other, we need positive affirmations, we need a positive warrior tribe promoting love + peace for all beings.

7. Do you have a message to kids out there who come out and might not have the support of their families/friends?

Don’t give up hope. Seek a network for support that promotes safety to explore and gain advice. Even if your family and friends don’t understand at first, you can seek relationships with networks of people who get it, who’ve been there before and may have additional resources. Also, time is powerful. You may believe that your family/friends opinions will never change. With resources and support from an additional network, time and persistence – things can change! Things are changing always – why not this? Stay positive – you got this! Also, if it helps, I love you!


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