My name is Leah Fredkin and I’m the founder of Equality Goods. It’s been a difficult journey for me to open up and be vulnerable on a public platform, but I finally feel compelled to share my story and the inspiration behind my company.
I am a woman in my 30s and have known for quite some time that I am gay, however I wasn’t able to share this part of myself with friends and family.
This time last year, I designed a rainbow bracelet to wear the first time I attended Pride in West Hollywood. It was my quiet way of coming out. It never felt easy or comfortable for me to outright share my sexual orientation, and frankly sometimes it’s still a struggle. While Generation Z and the shes, hims and thems of the future have the luxury of growing up in a much more inclusive world, it took me this long because of the shame I felt around discovering who I am. Ironically I built a business on the foundation of acceptance and equality.
My brand, Equality Goods, is a wearable symbol of liberty and justice for all humankind; and represents my core beliefs and values. So, there I was, preaching about acceptance, while I hadn’t accepted myself. My secret and the shame surrounding it became overwhelming. How can I be the face of my brand if I’m living a lie? How can I be the friend, sister, daughter I should be if I am living a lie? Granted, it wasn’t just Equality Goods that caused me to come out. Years of therapy helped, but the pride bracelet was my tipping point. It let me make a statement in my own way.
I was so afraid of how others would react to my coming out… Would they be supportive? Would their entire perception of me change? Honestly, what I was most terrified of was the part where I had to accept myself. I am proud to say, I finally did it. First, I told one of my best friends, then my parents, next my siblings and I slowly (yet optimistically) opened up to the rest of my village. Although, some conversations were more complex than others, my community has been supportive, encouraging, loving and proud of me for living my truth. It’s 2019, at this point in time I hope everyone’s experience is positive, however there are still antiquated thinkers amongst us.
Trust me, it was terrifying to throw away the person I used to be, the one that lived in that “safe space.” It took time to learn to live in this “new normal,” but coming out has been the most liberating experience of my life. Living my truth has made my relationships stronger than I could have imagined because I am finally being myself.
When you speak your truth and show your vulnerable side, it allows others to do the same. You become connected in a profound and meaningful way. For me, that’s where the magic is and where things started to perfectly align. I hope my story, inspires you – whoever or whatever you may be.
This year at Pride, I’ll be comfortably, loudly and proudly wearing my symbol for all humanKIND.