Today’s article was intended as a celebration in honor of Pride month here in Toronto, which launched June 1st and culminates with an anticipated parade on July 3rd. Instead, when I sit down to write it tears come to my eyes.
On June 12th the Orlando LGBTQ+ community and the worldwide Gay Rights movement took a massive hit, the biggest of its kind in recorded American history. A gunman opened fire inside Pulse, a Florida club that welcomed all clients regardless of sexual identity, and took the life of over 50 people, injuring many more. The gunman’s family said he had previously expressed homophobic ideas, and police are claiming he pledged his allegiance to Daesh, an openly and violently homophobic radical Islamic organization, before he went on his murder spree. When I heard the news my heart broke for the lives senselessly stolen, and the shattered hearts left behind.
So I want today’s feature to be a sobering reminder that unfortunately, love isn’t a freely traded commodity for everyone just yet. Yes, last year the United States of America legalized same-sex marriage for all her citizens (catching up to many other nations, including Belgium and England). Yes, Israel is paving the way for equality in the Middle East as its only nation to host not one but several Pride parades. And yes, Canadian elementary schools are now teaching young children that not every family has one mom and one dad to get them used to the idea from an early age. But is it enough? The 50 casualties in this horrific incident prove that it is not, and they are at the end of a long list of victims of hate from this year alone.
Every day, LGBTQ+ individuals at home and abroad must face the discrimination and harassment of a hetero-normative society. Why can those opposed to the so-called gay lifestyle not see that they are causing no harm by openly loving one another in a mutually respectful manner? The only harm caused is by haters like the Orlando killer, who hurt not only those affected directly but also the closeted kids of the nation, the couples who are now afraid to show affection in public, and the members of the Muslim community who do not share his views. Please, if you are reading this, take a moment to imagine yourself in the shoes of the hostages held in Pulse during the terrible night of June 12th. Feel the terror and the shame, the prayers and the hopelessness. And then, pledge to make sure nobody ever goes through that ever again, not your friend, not your neighbor, and not your own family members.
A good way to show your support in this time of adversity, besides attending a local Pride celebration, is by wearing it on your sleeve, or on your face. I have gathered a couple of Equality and Pride themed beauty items to share in the hopes that we can help spread the message of tolerance and acceptance, one bar of soap or one bottle of perfume at a time. It is my hope that readers do not take this as an attempt to capitalize on this tragedy; I am simply dealing with my sorrow the only way I know how, through writing about beauty. As a man in this traditionally female industry I have faced discrimination myself, and owning who and what you are is a way to be brave and resilient.
Speaking of perfume, this is probably the gayest bottle out there, and I say that as a compliment. Bond No. 9, which I have previously written about for Lunar New Year, introduced this permanent expansion to the I LOVE NEW YORK line in 2011, the same year the state passed its Marriage Equality Act (which is where it gets its name, I LOVE NEW YORK for Marriage Equality, signed 7/24/11). The signature star bottle, this time in opaque white, prominently features a rainbow-hued heart that represents the rainbow flag of the Gay Rights movement. Announced as a spicy woodsy unisex juice, it opens with notes of cinnamon, plum and nutmeg and leads to a wedding bouquet of flowers in the heart, including lily, rose and jasmine. You will find amber, cashmere and woods in the base, making for a very raw, dirty spicy fruity scent that would do best in winter. If you would like to try it out, FragranceNet.com offers the pictured 100 ml bottle for $78.74*, a far cry from the $131* retail price. It also makes a perfect wedding present, in case you have any coming up this year. I wore it to Pride in York Region yesterday, where numerous people told me it smells like sex – do with that what you will.
LUSH Cosmetics is another company that loves to show its support, just last year they brought out a limited-edition #GayIsOkay Love soap with gold glitter galore (reviewed here). Exceptional Parfums offers a set of rainbow colored polishes for a manicure that breaks the barriers ($20.99*), and you can decorate your pretty lips with the official Burt’s Bees Rainbow Assorted Lip Balm set from Target. All in all, it is a good time fly your freak flag high, and know that you are accepted and welcomed at Nosegasm.com no matter who you kiss or what you smell like. Happy Pride, friends!
If you would like to help the families of the Orlando victims, please visit this official fundraiser to donate for relief purposes. May the victims rest in peace.
*Prices true at time of writing.
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