I am NOT 303 Creative. That is a different business.

Since I have begun receiving threatening messages, I want to clarify to the public that this business is NOT the business that took that case to SCOTUS.

She is 303 Creative. I am black sheep 303 Creative. We are both Denver-based businesses. I am design-related and she is too but she is a graphic designer and I am a crafter. Granted, I can understand the confusion given those similarities but I can assure you those are the only two things our businesses have in common.

I have a female friend who is also something of a business mentor and coincidentally gay, who pointed out that this is an opportunity for me to make a statement about my own beliefs that normally would never reach most people in the US or the world. Maybe because of the confusion over the business name, people will come to my site who never would. I’ll be honest, I am a crafter and craft blogger. A lot of crafters in the US are conservative and I have always stayed away from politics in my business because it’s not relevant to what I do and I don’t want to piss off a large part of my customer base. I also just launched a craft summit that was months and months in the making and I’m afraid this will jeopardize it’s success. However, this is more important than that and I’m willing to take that risk.

I am a very average American. I don’t have a bunch of fancy degrees, I’m not overly successful professionally, I’m overweight – the list goes on. If those things mean I’m not worth listening to then that’s a statement in itself about our country. But I want to express my average American opinion about what has happened.

I am pro-gay rights. I believe gay people should have absolutely every right that the rest of us do! I believe ALL humans should have absolutely every right that the most privileged among us have. I am extremely heart broken by the recent decisions from SCOTUS (not just this one) and the clear backward slide we seem to be on as a country. I am also very, very scared by the way hate seems to have taken over everything – hate for certain groups, hate for companies who promote things we don’t like, hate for books and anything that challenges our beliefs, hate for anything that makes us even remotely uncomfortable. The lengths that a small but loud minority in this country has gone to to essentially eliminate the rights of large portions of this country’s population is very scary. I guess it will make them happy to hear they’ve made me afraid. Is that the goal?

The thing is, I’m not afraid of them. I’m afraid of the lack of self awareness that seems to be running rampant in our every part of our society. When you’re unhappy and afraid, allowing base anger to take over is understandable. It is somewhat seductive and feels easy. You don’t have to think rationally, you just get to spew your emotions at others with no consequences online. You get to release all that pent up frustration at someone. I get it. I really do.

But ultimately is that the country we want to be? Do we really want to be a bunch of scared people running around shouting “Other” and “Get out” at anyone or anything that frightens us? Because that’s what this boils down to – fear. People can use anything as an excuse to say their hate has a purpose, their fear is correct. It’s amazing just how far this need to rationalize hate has gone and how easily some of our political institutions have bent over backwards to accommodate that need.  It comes at the great expense of others who also live here, who also have the right to exist, to be autonomous, to be able to succeed and just live their lives. Why is this okay? Why is your discomfort more important that another person’s health, liberty, right to exist? That seems pretty un-American to me. It’s certainly not freedom.

We say we want to be the land of opportunity. We say we want to give people the chance to lift themselves up. We say we do things in this country “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” There is nothing harder than taking a real honest look at yourself. If you’re afraid of something, ask yourself why? If your answer is someone or something told you you should be, you need to dig a whole lot deeper. As a very general rule, people are frightened of things they don’t understand so my advice is, try to understand it. Don’t research it online. Actually go talk to a gay person. Find out what their life is actually like. Ask them if being gay was a choice. Believe them when they tell you their story even if you don’t want to and it’s hard to hear. Talk to a black person. Talk to a trans person. Talk to a woman. And I mean really talk. Not superficial small talk but have a conversation that gets to the heart of why you are afraid. Find out if you should be. I know from experience the answer is no. But DO NOT take my word for it. Find out for yourself. Stop flailing about yelling and trying to hurt these groups. Do the hard thing and challenge yourself to find out who these groups actually are and what they are afraid of. I think you’ll find you are more alike than you are different.

Having gotten a few pretty terrible hate messages from people who think I am Laurie Smith, the woman who actually brought this case, I want to say to the people who agree with me about gay-rights, black lives, etc. that death threats and intimidation aren’t helpful. As I mentioned before, I totally understand the rage. What is happening is horrifying on a lot of  levels. The reality is, though, that any non-white-male group has to work  a lot harder and be way more mature than the others to be seen as half as legit. Every time you do something hateful or threaten someone on the other side with violence, you are giving them an easy excuse to justify their own hate. They can say to themselves “See, this group is dangerous. It’s my duty to stop them.” It gives them an easy out from having to question their own beliefs.

Until we get enough people willing to actually do the hard work of trying to understand where their fear comes from, the fight is far from over. Every time you give someone an excuse to double down on their own bigotry, bigotry wins. It’s not fair, not by a long shot. Unfortunately, very little is and things in the US are becoming less fair every day. You too need to make the hard choice of trying to understand the other side’s fear. It’s tough and exhausting, especially for groups who have to work so hard every day just to live in peace, but that’s all we’ve got right now. I stand with you! It’s not practical to believe we can just purge the other side from our lives, no matter which side you are on. Someone has to have the courage to stand up and reach out a hand of compassion to those who choose hate over love, fear over hope. In a lot of ways, it sucks that it has to be you. But you can and so can I.

I’m a craft blogger because I believe creativity is a source of love in the world. It’s a way to give back and share yourself with others. Plus, it’s really fun! I want others, no matter what their political views, to know how to have fun. It’s a very small way to add a bit of joy to the world but that is my hope. Happy people are a lot less fearful. If I can help even one person be happier, learn to do something they love and as a result be less quick to jump right to anger and hate, then I’ll feel like I’ve done something good. I would much rather live in a country that recognizes it’s own base human instinct toward fear and hate and says, “Not today. Today I choose to challenge my own fears in order to make the country and the world a more compassionate, more free place.” We can do it, America. We just have to make that hard choice.

Now for some shameless self-promotion…If you’d like to learn more about crafty fun, check out my summit at https://www.createwithcricutjoy.com