"I got these shoes during pride month 2020 and they quickly became my go to pair of sneakers. I didn’t have a ton of LGBTQ role models growing up, so in a way I still feel like I'm learning how I want to express myself and my identity. My style is a huge piece of that, which is where these shoes come into play. 

 

       When I was first starting to come out, I only told a few friends. I was terrified, I think I cried every single time I told someone, but the response I got was exactly what I needed. I don’t think I’ve had the chance to thank those first friends I told, but their response, so filled with love and acceptance, was exactly what I needed. My confidence in my identity wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for them. Because of their support along with that of my family and other teammates, I felt comfortable and confident with who I was. This allowed me to start expanding my style to reflect my identity. 

 

       Like I said before, this process is still ongoing, I’m still figuring out what clothes I feel most comfortable in and how I can best express my personality with what I wear. But I don’t feel like I have to dress a certain way just to fit in with other girls anymore. I don’t feel like I have to wear “girly” things, I just shop for what I like and what’s comfortable for me. 

 

       Visibility is huge and I think that if I had more “out” role models as I was growing up that I would have been able to start this process at a much earlier age. As someone who’s going into teaching, I want to show my students that it’s okay to play around with your style. There aren't “boy” and “girl” categories when it comes to clothes, I want my students to find what makes them feel comfortable and confident and roll with it. There’s no right or wrong way to express yourself.

 

       I don’t tell myself very often, but I’m so proud of how much I’ve grown in the last 4 years. Coming into college, I couldn’t even dream of being where I’m at now and there’s no way I would have been able to do it without the help of my family, friends, and teammates. To all of them I just want to say thank you, I love you all more than you know."

 

-Makenzie Langdok

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