Design Highlight: PRIDE in You

Big Raven Yoga PRIDE in You Yoga Mat

This week’s Design Highlight is all about June being Pride Month for the LGBTQ community. My son, Jack, is gay, and came out when he was 14. I was so proud of him for being exactly who he is --exactly the way he was made. That in turn, set off a long chain of events which has led me to where I am today…

Crop of the Big Raven Yoga 'PRIDE in You' yoga mat

Once he came out to the world, life became very difficult for him in small-town Minnesota. He’s handsome and muscular was well-liked and — in his own words: “You’d never know I'm gay except that I like dudes”. Nevertheless, he became the object of bullying, simply because he was gay. Nothing about him had changed from the day before he came out to the day after he came out, but his classmates immediately treated him differently. Sleepovers suddenly dried up. Kids called him “fag”. They peed on his clothes in his gym locker. Even though nothing else about him had changed. He was exactly the same person he was before he came out, yet he had gone from popular to shamed overnight.

“Sleepovers suddenly dried up. Kids called him ‘fag’. They peed on his clothes in his gym locker. Even though nothing else about him had changed. He was exactly the same person he was before he came out, yet he had gone from popular to shamed overnight.”

He handled it well. Better than I did, anyway. It became clear to me that for my son’s sake I was soon going to have to uproot my little family and move to Minneapolis, a more worldly city where everyone is different, where he’d be able to find his own community, where he wouldn’t be excommunicated simply for being who he was and the way he was born.

The Big Raven Yoga 'PRIDE in You' yoga mat in use

Around this time my 25-year high school class reunion was being held back in my home town. I attended on a whim, and so did another one of my classmates, Darin, who had moved back to Minneapolis from Thailand literally the day before our reunion. He was in town with his young daughter, Hannah, to see his parents whom he hadn’t seen for a very long time while living on the other side of the world. His mom mentioned that it was reunion weekend and encouraged him to go. Seeing as he had nothing better to do that night, he went. And there he met me. Well, re-met me. He was divorced. I was divorced. In high school we… well, let’s just say we didn’t run in the same circles. Even though our graduating class was only 89 students and everyone knew each other, in his words, I was, quote, “out of his league”. (I was a cheerleader, he played Dungeons and Dragons. That’s probably all you need to know by way of explanation.)

Fast forward 9 or 10 months and I was now looking for a place to rent in Minneapolis because of Jack. I reached out to Darin in hopes that he knew something about Minneapolis neighborhoods and schools. He offered to take me on a house-hunting trip around the city. One thing led to another, and we suddenly found ourselves dating. A house rental opened up literally on the other side of the block from Darin’s and Hannah’s house.

We moved in around the block that summer.

The next summer we moved in with Darin and Hannah.

Two summers after that, I broke my leg bicycling with Darin.

The summer after that I came up with the idea for artistic, one-of-a-kind yoga mats because someone accidentally walked off with my ancient-yet-beloved generic black mat on my first day back at yoga after my bike accident.

The summer after that, we made our first sale.

THIS summer the company is taking off, Jack is starting college, and I’m teaching yoga up on a stage in front of thousands of people at the Twin Cities Pride Festival this coming weekend.

An unlikely chain of events has led me here, and it all started with Jack’s coming out as gay 7 years ago.

Without that twist, without that kickoff, I never would have moved to Minneapolis, never would have ended up with Darin, never would have broken my leg, never would have had my mat stolen, never would have cause to find a solution to that problem, never would have have started a yoga mat company, never would have been teaching yoga at Pride in front of thousands.

And that’s why this design is so special to me and also because Jack’s step-sister, Hannah, made this design especially for him.

This company really is a whole-family endeavor and I have Pride in all of them. 

Namaste.

— Joleen

In honor of Twin Cities Pride Week, take $10 off our PRIDE in You yoga mat this week only (Monday 6/17 through this Sunday, 6/23) using the promo code LOUDANDPROUD at checkout.

The Big Raven Yoga 'PRIDE in You' yoga mat

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