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Banner -  Seeing Me

 Seeing Me

Real stories of love, diversity and Pride

For Pride 2021, Lush team members shared the moment, person or event that made them feel the most seen. Discover their inspiring stories and find out how you can still take action.

Content card - Conversion Therapy is still legal
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Conversion Therapy is still legal

Support Bill C-6 to ban conversion therapy and protect the queer community from harmful discrimination.

Ady Nugraha - He/Him

I came to Canada four years ago. I'm from Indonesia, and I came here as an LGBTQ+ refugee. The moment that made me feel most seen was when I first started working at Lush, and I met a lot of new friends. At first, they didn't know I was gay. I never opened up to any of my friends or family back in my country. The first time I said "I'm gay" to my co-worker, they just said "it's okay" and smiled at me. At that moment, I felt accepted for the first time and after that moment, I started to feel that I didn't need to hide myself anymore here.

Tony Ybarra - He/Him

As a young, self-conscious boy, I always found myself needing validation from others but being too stubborn to accept it when it was given. It wasn’t until my biggest fan sent me a picture that it would put me on a life-changing path of radical self-acceptance of myself and others.

 

In 2019 that fan, also known as my father, was going to his first Pride parade in Denver, Colorado. Not only was he sporting a rainbow shirt that said “proud dad,” but he was also standing proud next to his cousin, who's a transgender woman, wife and mother of two. 

 

While I was not present, the image of this moment in time will forever motivate me to always stand strong and proud with my Latinx community and my LGBTQ+ community. I don’t want to paint the fantasy that one day it just clicks and you love and accept yourself...because it doesn’t. It takes constant self-work to find self-worth, but support and love from kinship in any regard, biological, chosen, or assigned, moves mountains. 


Because of the impact of this moment, my struggles and my privilege, I'll always have space to be someone’s chosen family, I'll always create spaces for my community to feel seen, and I'll ALWAYS live with pride. 

Samia Freeman - She/Her

One of the first moments that I truly felt seen in my life was at my first Pride parade in DC. For the first time, there was a huge part of me that finally felt validated. This was a part of me that I had been suppressing for years due to the fear of what others around me might think and what I thought about myself deep down. 


Coming from a religious family, it was extremely difficult for me to understand who I was, let alone accept myself for who I am. It took so long for me to face the truth and it felt freeing to finally be acknowledged, validated and celebrated for such a huge part of who I am. 

 

Attending my first Pride parade made me realize that I’m not alone and that there are thousands of people who are like me and most importantly, understand me. I’ve now learned to embrace my uniqueness and take pride in who I am as a queer Black woman. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m finally at the point where I’m ready to show the world who I truly am! 

Meet Ady
Ady Nugraha - He/Him

I came to Canada four years ago. I'm from Indonesia, and I came here as an LGBTQ+ refugee. The moment that made me feel most seen was when I first started working at Lush, and I met a lot of new friends. At first, they didn't know I was gay. I never opened up to any of my friends or family back in my country. The first time I said "I'm gay" to my co-worker, they just said "it's okay" and smiled at me. At that moment, I felt accepted for the first time and after that moment, I started to feel that I didn't need to hide myself anymore here.

Meet Tony
Tony Ybarra - He/Him

As a young, self-conscious boy, I always found myself needing validation from others but being too stubborn to accept it when it was given. It wasn’t until my biggest fan sent me a picture that it would put me on a life-changing path of radical self-acceptance of myself and others.

 

In 2019 that fan, also known as my father, was going to his first Pride parade in Denver, Colorado. Not only was he sporting a rainbow shirt that said “proud dad,” but he was also standing proud next to his cousin, who's a transgender woman, wife and mother of two. 

 

While I was not present, the image of this moment in time will forever motivate me to always stand strong and proud with my Latinx community and my LGBTQ+ community. I don’t want to paint the fantasy that one day it just clicks and you love and accept yourself...because it doesn’t. It takes constant self-work to find self-worth, but support and love from kinship in any regard, biological, chosen, or assigned, moves mountains. 


Because of the impact of this moment, my struggles and my privilege, I'll always have space to be someone’s chosen family, I'll always create spaces for my community to feel seen, and I'll ALWAYS live with pride. 

Samia
Samia Freeman - She/Her

One of the first moments that I truly felt seen in my life was at my first Pride parade in DC. For the first time, there was a huge part of me that finally felt validated. This was a part of me that I had been suppressing for years due to the fear of what others around me might think and what I thought about myself deep down. 


Coming from a religious family, it was extremely difficult for me to understand who I was, let alone accept myself for who I am. It took so long for me to face the truth and it felt freeing to finally be acknowledged, validated and celebrated for such a huge part of who I am. 

 

Attending my first Pride parade made me realize that I’m not alone and that there are thousands of people who are like me and most importantly, understand me. I’ve now learned to embrace my uniqueness and take pride in who I am as a queer Black woman. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m finally at the point where I’m ready to show the world who I truly am! 

Kyler Salazar - They/Them

When I feel most seen is a very simple moment, it’s when people ask me my pronouns.


Here in Utah, I rarely feel seen for who I am, people are more worried about what I am. It feels ostracizing being non-binary and having people constantly seeing you but never asking who I am, just assuming who I am, and unfortunately, their conclusions of who I am can be negative.


When someone asks me my name and my pronouns, it makes me feel happy because it shows me that they care about who I am and how I want to be known and that they would want to know me

Michael Dore - He/Him

I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta and I remember there being protesters at my first Pride parade. It felt very swept under the rug, like sure you can celebrate, just do it over there. As years passed, I watched our Pride festivities grow. I saw the importance of us as a community being represented and recognized. I watched people fighting to make our Pride festival bigger, better, visible, and valued.

 

Fast forward to my favorite Pride parade. After growing into a celebrated Drag Queen, Pride was something I cherished and looked forward to. This year, the parade proudly marched up to the heart of downtown. There I was, stomping the main street in full drag. A young queen of color being celebrated and seen by all walks of life. The route was lined with people cheering with love and support, and I realized how important Pride is. How important it is for kids that look like me to see my grandeur proudly strutting with my community. I do drag to be seen, to bring awareness to the magic of my community, for the importance of representation that anyone can be what their soul wants to be.

Ellis Oswald - They/Them

We sat on a couch together in his dad’s garage; I took a deep breath as he looked at me to say something. “I’m not sure… you know, I don’t feel much like a girl, but definitely I’m not a boy either. I’m just right there in the middle, but also not at all, you know… Is that okay?” I was worried he wouldn’t want to look at me anymore; I was worried he wouldn’t see me for whom I discovered I was. He nodded understandingly, took my hand, and said, “It’s okay.”


That was five years ago, and we’re now married, with a dog named Winston, in the process of buying a house together. He showed me compassion when I was scared and continued to reassure me when it comes to my authenticity. He watered me and allowed me to grow and bud into a beautiful and confident person. I feel secure in myself, and I know I have to live my life proudly for those who can’t.


Now, working for Lush, I get to make an impact throughout a new community of people, and for that, I am very thankful.

Meet Kyler
Kyler Salazar - They/Them

When I feel most seen is a very simple moment, it’s when people ask me my pronouns.


Here in Utah, I rarely feel seen for who I am, people are more worried about what I am. It feels ostracizing being non-binary and having people constantly seeing you but never asking who I am, just assuming who I am, and unfortunately, their conclusions of who I am can be negative.


When someone asks me my name and my pronouns, it makes me feel happy because it shows me that they care about who I am and how I want to be known and that they would want to know me

Meet Michael
Michael Dore - He/Him

I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta and I remember there being protesters at my first Pride parade. It felt very swept under the rug, like sure you can celebrate, just do it over there. As years passed, I watched our Pride festivities grow. I saw the importance of us as a community being represented and recognized. I watched people fighting to make our Pride festival bigger, better, visible, and valued.

 

Fast forward to my favorite Pride parade. After growing into a celebrated Drag Queen, Pride was something I cherished and looked forward to. This year, the parade proudly marched up to the heart of downtown. There I was, stomping the main street in full drag. A young queen of color being celebrated and seen by all walks of life. The route was lined with people cheering with love and support, and I realized how important Pride is. How important it is for kids that look like me to see my grandeur proudly strutting with my community. I do drag to be seen, to bring awareness to the magic of my community, for the importance of representation that anyone can be what their soul wants to be.

Meet Ellis
Ellis Oswald - They/Them

We sat on a couch together in his dad’s garage; I took a deep breath as he looked at me to say something. “I’m not sure… you know, I don’t feel much like a girl, but definitely I’m not a boy either. I’m just right there in the middle, but also not at all, you know… Is that okay?” I was worried he wouldn’t want to look at me anymore; I was worried he wouldn’t see me for whom I discovered I was. He nodded understandingly, took my hand, and said, “It’s okay.”


That was five years ago, and we’re now married, with a dog named Winston, in the process of buying a house together. He showed me compassion when I was scared and continued to reassure me when it comes to my authenticity. He watered me and allowed me to grow and bud into a beautiful and confident person. I feel secure in myself, and I know I have to live my life proudly for those who can’t.


Now, working for Lush, I get to make an impact throughout a new community of people, and for that, I am very thankful.

Destiny Benavides - They/Them

I feel most seen when I am, ironically enough, looking at my own self in the mirror, when I can genuinely see myself and my expression.


I take pride in being Mexican, a lesbian and genderqueer, because it involves breaking down generational barriers. I dress in what makes me feel authentic and closer to whom I want to be. It doesn’t matter how “femme” I present or how “masc” I may look; the end goal is to be comfortable and to achieve gender euphoria in my genderless identity!


A lot of people link lesbianism to “womanhood” and I say that it's the total opposite. Being a lesbian requires dropping heteronormative ideals like gender roles within our relationships, identities and lifestyles. Validating and loving yourself is super important. I want people who feel they can relate to me to receive the same love and validation.

Fernando Zapata - He/Him

On June 26th, 2015 when gay marriage became legal, Lush’s campaign was Gay Is OK. I had never seen such representation and acceptance before. I felt seen and excited to be working for a company that would not only send such a beautiful message to the world, but also let their employees feel accepted.


I’ve been with Lush for over eight years and in this time, I have met such amazing people and made lifelong friends. I can be my nerdy random self and it's okay. Working here has really shaped my compassion and drive to help others and treat everyone equally. I have discovered many new things about myself and have gotten meet my authentic self.

Sascha Tshiani-Levine - He/His

It took me a while to not only understand what means to feel seen but to also determine the instances in life that have led me to feel the most seen. If I would narrow it down to a single instance, coming across the works of James Baldwin serves as a stand-out moment in my mind. My experience with Baldwin began with reading his 1956 novel titled ‘Giovanni’s Room’, some years ago. This was the first time in my life, as a queer man, that I had read a novel that explored the lives and complexities of queer lives as they are. 

 

What resonates with me most about Baldwin is his lack of interest in asserting his Blackness and queerness as distinct from each other. I think that many queer Black boys grow up feeling that to be one of these things is not compatible with the other, when that’s simply untrue. Rather, to be Black and to be queer is to define and design on your terms, beyond the binary oppositions and the boxes that we are forced into. 

Meet Destiny
Destiny Benavides - They/Them

I feel most seen when I am, ironically enough, looking at my own self in the mirror, when I can genuinely see myself and my expression.


I take pride in being Mexican, a lesbian and genderqueer, because it involves breaking down generational barriers. I dress in what makes me feel authentic and closer to whom I want to be. It doesn’t matter how “femme” I present or how “masc” I may look; the end goal is to be comfortable and to achieve gender euphoria in my genderless identity!


A lot of people link lesbianism to “womanhood” and I say that it's the total opposite. Being a lesbian requires dropping heteronormative ideals like gender roles within our relationships, identities and lifestyles. Validating and loving yourself is super important. I want people who feel they can relate to me to receive the same love and validation.

Meet Fernando
Fernando Zapata - He/Him

On June 26th, 2015 when gay marriage became legal, Lush’s campaign was Gay Is OK. I had never seen such representation and acceptance before. I felt seen and excited to be working for a company that would not only send such a beautiful message to the world, but also let their employees feel accepted.


I’ve been with Lush for over eight years and in this time, I have met such amazing people and made lifelong friends. I can be my nerdy random self and it's okay. Working here has really shaped my compassion and drive to help others and treat everyone equally. I have discovered many new things about myself and have gotten meet my authentic self.

Meet Sascha
Sascha Tshiani-Levine - He/His

It took me a while to not only understand what means to feel seen but to also determine the instances in life that have led me to feel the most seen. If I would narrow it down to a single instance, coming across the works of James Baldwin serves as a stand-out moment in my mind. My experience with Baldwin began with reading his 1956 novel titled ‘Giovanni’s Room’, some years ago. This was the first time in my life, as a queer man, that I had read a novel that explored the lives and complexities of queer lives as they are. 

 

What resonates with me most about Baldwin is his lack of interest in asserting his Blackness and queerness as distinct from each other. I think that many queer Black boys grow up feeling that to be one of these things is not compatible with the other, when that’s simply untrue. Rather, to be Black and to be queer is to define and design on your terms, beyond the binary oppositions and the boxes that we are forced into. 

Sina Kamran - He/Him

For myself, I think the most I’ve felt seen or heard was when I had the opportunity to work with Lush on an anti-bullying campaign based on my experience being bullied.


Working on that campaign was such a full-circle moment for me. It was pretty crazy that the very negative experiences I had in high school ended up being the catalyst for me being able to express myself fully. For me, I felt for the first time in a long time that I could authentically present myself as out and open. It was meaningful because I was never able to be vulnerable until that point because of the walls I had built. Now, I’m in a very positive space with who I am and my sexuality. I’m grateful to have such supportive people in my life, both in and outside the workplace.

Lo Lefkowitz - They/Her

I think the first time I felt seen was when I lived in Scotland. It was the first time I felt like I fit in somewhere. I’ve pretty much always been plus size and for the first time in my life, they had my size clothes on the racks! And bigger! People actually spoke to me and listened and were genuinely interested in what I was saying. And me! I could just be myself and I was met with respect instead of resistance, disgust or apathy. I felt free and respected and “normal”. I didn’t have to fit into any box. I could just be me.

Paule Joseph - She/Her

Feeling seen is being able to live with being my true authentic self, feeling heard within my community and being able to voice my opinions in meaningful conversation with my peers.


Moving to the United States at seven years old from Haiti and seeing the opportunities provided, made me feel like life was limitless. That’s when I knew that the world was at my fingertips. It took some time to put myself first and to really understand that no one would have my back like I would. With this new mindset, I created a support system with an abundance of love. Always pushing myself to grow and trying to be the best and most authentic version of myself got me to where I am today. As a current first-generation college student and a future Interior Architect, Lush provides me with so much support for my developmental, personal, and professional growth.

Meet Sina
Sina Kamran - He/Him

For myself, I think the most I’ve felt seen or heard was when I had the opportunity to work with Lush on an anti-bullying campaign based on my experience being bullied.


Working on that campaign was such a full-circle moment for me. It was pretty crazy that the very negative experiences I had in high school ended up being the catalyst for me being able to express myself fully. For me, I felt for the first time in a long time that I could authentically present myself as out and open. It was meaningful because I was never able to be vulnerable until that point because of the walls I had built. Now, I’m in a very positive space with who I am and my sexuality. I’m grateful to have such supportive people in my life, both in and outside the workplace.

Meet Lo
Lo Lefkowitz - They/Her

I think the first time I felt seen was when I lived in Scotland. It was the first time I felt like I fit in somewhere. I’ve pretty much always been plus size and for the first time in my life, they had my size clothes on the racks! And bigger! People actually spoke to me and listened and were genuinely interested in what I was saying. And me! I could just be myself and I was met with respect instead of resistance, disgust or apathy. I felt free and respected and “normal”. I didn’t have to fit into any box. I could just be me.

Meet Paule
Paule Joseph - She/Her

Feeling seen is being able to live with being my true authentic self, feeling heard within my community and being able to voice my opinions in meaningful conversation with my peers.


Moving to the United States at seven years old from Haiti and seeing the opportunities provided, made me feel like life was limitless. That’s when I knew that the world was at my fingertips. It took some time to put myself first and to really understand that no one would have my back like I would. With this new mindset, I created a support system with an abundance of love. Always pushing myself to grow and trying to be the best and most authentic version of myself got me to where I am today. As a current first-generation college student and a future Interior Architect, Lush provides me with so much support for my developmental, personal, and professional growth.

Artin Abnoosian - He/Him

I always knew I was different. I went to an all-Armenian boys school in Iran. They all liked soccer and I liked The Little Mermaid.


In 1999, my parents decided to move to America and to this day, I genuinely thank them because now I can live my life freely. In my teenage years, I was always made fun of for being overweight and “acting gay.” Things were so bad that once during gym class, they called me a gay slur and spat on me.


Life got better in my twenties; I became comfortable in my skin. I'll never forget when I came out to one of my friends. I knocked on her door, I started crying and revealed my truth to her; that moment taught me honesty and vulnerability are indeed superpowers.


Being a gay Armenian wasn't the easiest journey, but I consider myself lucky even with my hardships. Lucky to be in an environment with other LGBTQ+ members full of love, liberation, and making our voices heard. I dedicate this story to all my LGBTQ+ members who live in countries that it's illegal to be themselves, to Alireza Fazeli Monfared and many others who've lost their lives for simply being who they are.

Cyan Lourenco - They/Them

I first came out as a trans man in 2013. I tried very hard to fit a mold of masculinity so that people could see me. What I found was that not only were others not seeing me but that I was having a hard time finding and seeing myself. 


I realized that gender was much more complicated than masculinity and femininity and that realization was terrifying. For a while, I thought perhaps I wasn't even trans—that if manhood was not something that fit me, I must somehow have been lying to myself. However, embracing the concept of queerness—the idea that we can be beautiful, strange and unusual and that there is no one way to be human—was the most freeing ideology of my life.


Seeing people like Jonathan Van Ness, Sam Smith and Alok V. Menon have truly shown me the beauty and bravery of authenticity. There are no more boxes that I need to fit into. Only a never-ending palette of gender, an expansive canvas of my mind, body, spirit, and me, the painter, bringing the experience of my identity to life.

Max Jauregui - He/They

The summer before high school, I remember finding Patrick Starrr’s YouTube Channel. I remember for the first time someone with a similar story to mine living in his truth and being celebrated for it. Both our parents were immigrants and had strong views and values that were more conservative. I remember seeing his vlogs and seeing what a loving relationship he had with his family. I remember thinking, “I hope to one day be celebrated for being myself by those I love.”


My parents eventually got the pleasure of meeting the real me. It took them a while to be fully accepting of me and all my gayness, but their love for me allowed for acceptance. Although I couldn’t 100% identify with Patrick’s story, I was able to feel seen. I now believe it is my duty to live in my truth loudly and freely in hopes of inspiring someone else to do the same.

Meet Artin
Artin Abnoosian - He/Him

I always knew I was different. I went to an all-Armenian boys school in Iran. They all liked soccer and I liked The Little Mermaid.


In 1999, my parents decided to move to America and to this day, I genuinely thank them because now I can live my life freely. In my teenage years, I was always made fun of for being overweight and “acting gay.” Things were so bad that once during gym class, they called me a gay slur and spat on me.


Life got better in my twenties; I became comfortable in my skin. I'll never forget when I came out to one of my friends. I knocked on her door, I started crying and revealed my truth to her; that moment taught me honesty and vulnerability are indeed superpowers.


Being a gay Armenian wasn't the easiest journey, but I consider myself lucky even with my hardships. Lucky to be in an environment with other LGBTQ+ members full of love, liberation, and making our voices heard. I dedicate this story to all my LGBTQ+ members who live in countries that it's illegal to be themselves, to Alireza Fazeli Monfared and many others who've lost their lives for simply being who they are.

Meet Cyan
Cyan Lourenco - They/Them

I first came out as a trans man in 2013. I tried very hard to fit a mold of masculinity so that people could see me. What I found was that not only were others not seeing me but that I was having a hard time finding and seeing myself. 


I realized that gender was much more complicated than masculinity and femininity and that realization was terrifying. For a while, I thought perhaps I wasn't even trans—that if manhood was not something that fit me, I must somehow have been lying to myself. However, embracing the concept of queerness—the idea that we can be beautiful, strange and unusual and that there is no one way to be human—was the most freeing ideology of my life.


Seeing people like Jonathan Van Ness, Sam Smith and Alok V. Menon have truly shown me the beauty and bravery of authenticity. There are no more boxes that I need to fit into. Only a never-ending palette of gender, an expansive canvas of my mind, body, spirit, and me, the painter, bringing the experience of my identity to life.

Meet Max
Max Jauregui - He/They

The summer before high school, I remember finding Patrick Starrr’s YouTube Channel. I remember for the first time someone with a similar story to mine living in his truth and being celebrated for it. Both our parents were immigrants and had strong views and values that were more conservative. I remember seeing his vlogs and seeing what a loving relationship he had with his family. I remember thinking, “I hope to one day be celebrated for being myself by those I love.”


My parents eventually got the pleasure of meeting the real me. It took them a while to be fully accepting of me and all my gayness, but their love for me allowed for acceptance. Although I couldn’t 100% identify with Patrick’s story, I was able to feel seen. I now believe it is my duty to live in my truth loudly and freely in hopes of inspiring someone else to do the same.

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