Be yourself: Our founders queer journey
Hi, everyone! I’m writing to you personally because, well, this topic is personal. I’m not a super public person – even in founding O’Douds I’ve always tried my best to stay out of the camera, literally. So, for those of you that don’t know me, especially if you’ve found us in the past couple of years, it’s nice to meet you! My name is Clay.
I grew up in a religious community that required strict adherence to rules, appearances, and lifestyles. My role as a young boy was to learn how to grow into a man, which meant a whole lot more than just being a kind and good person. A man dressed a certain way, talked a certain way, walked a certain way, and ultimately had a rigid set of rules ranging from appearances to lifestyle goals and relationship dynamics. Whether it was my size, shape, voice, or interests, there were countless areas where I needed to change myself to be a man. I found out in adulthood that I didn’t need to follow those rules, walk that way, or even use that label.
You probably know where this is going now… I’m not a man. I learned as an adult I never was if I didn’t want to be. No one needs to embrace a label that makes them feel like someone other than themselves. It took me a long time to see all of my value instead of just seeing all of the places where I lacked. For me, as long as I considered myself a man, I felt like an imposter.
To be clear: There’s nothing wrong with being a man, it just wasn’t me, it isn’t me, and I got tired of trying to be something I wasn’t. I know some incredible men. If you’re one of them: hell yeah to you, brother. Keep it up.
Coming out as non-binary has been a slow process for me. As I mentioned, I’m not a loud person, and I didn’t want people’s attention on me for anything at all, especially for something so personal. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not much of anyone’s business who I am.
As I’ve learned to love myself for all of the things that I spent so, so long trying to hide, I’ve found that I actually don’t mind sharing publicly again. So far I might even be enjoying it?! As with everything, it will be a process, but you can expect to see my face and hear my voice more around here.
What does non-binary mean? It means I don’t identify as a man or a woman, basically just that I don’t want to be labeled like that. Just swap in either “they” or “them” wherever you’d say “he/him” or “she/her” and you’ll be good to go. It may feel weird, but you do it all the time. Here’s my go to example: Someone leaves their keys in a seat next to you at the movies. You pick up the keys up and walk to an employee to say “Hi, someone left their keys in their seat. I’m not sure where they went, though”. Boom, singular they/their usage simply because you didn’t see the person, so you didn’t know what to gender them.
Why does it matter?
LGBTQIA+ folks exist whether people want us to or not. Pride month, and pride in general, is our way to remember that we aren’t alone, to fight back for equal rights, and to remind ourselves that no matter what happens, you should always be proud of the you that you know you are.
As a brand, we’ve always wanted to give people products that work well so that they can see themselves in a way that brings them joy. That’s why I started the company: because I needed a hair product that actually worked and was made from good ingredients. Now that we’ve grown as a company, our vision has stayed the same but also expanded so much further. Our mission is to give people the hair and beauty products they need to look and feel good without damaging the earth or their health to get there. Not only do we think those two things can be put together, but they belong together. Everyone deserves to feel like their best selves. Our goal is to give you, no matter who you are or how you identify, hair products to get there.