Choosing Love over Fear
Written by Helena Doub, Customer Experience for Flex
In honor of Pride, I interviewed a few Flex customers who identify as LGBTQ+ and asked them what it means to choose love over fear.
What I walked away with was a verbal wedding invitation, dating advice, a new-found understanding of period poops, and the greatest feeling of what I can only call “magic.” And the tears…oh the tears did flow.
Here is a glimpse into these intimate conversations.
Meet Camila: Latinx, bisexual, refers to her first experience with Flex disc as inserting a “frisbee” into her vagina.
I've heard cup, saucer, petri-dish…but I had never heard of Flex being compared to a frisbee and it made me chuckle.
Right off the bat she mentioned having a boyfriend so I asked what it was like to be bi with a boyfriend and what those conversations looked like. I wouldn’t have thought to ask her about this but was intrigued when she told me he always keeps period products on hand for her.
From what she told me, he’s the first person who ever understood that part of her. With most men, it wasn’t like that.
“The day you tell your boyfriend you’re bi is the day they start asking for threesomes.”
I laughed because I understood all too well. That was a common joke in bisexual groups. Oh wait, this isn’t the 3pm orgy?
Camila shared that it was only after she started dating her future husband that she shaved her head and began presenting more masculine.
“Hair is really associated with identity and sexual orientation. It’s frustrating.” Camila described to me how she used to present as super “girly” but it didn’t feel right to her. She now plans to keep a shaved head forever...unless she changes her mind, because if there’s anything we can learn from the LGBTQ+ community it’s that you ARE allowed to evolve.
I told Camila I had always wondered what it would be like to shave my head. It was a deep-rooted fantasy of mine but I have too many “bumps and lumps.”
“We’re all weird about our heads!” She interrupted. “Because we’ve never been exposed to it…like our vaginas.”
“We all think our vaginas are weird too until you look at it.” Ain’t that the truth.
So I asked her, beyond this, when was a time she chose love over fear?
Camila dived into this question by first sharing with me that she names her years. I geeked out instantly because I do something similar. I’ll have a song that defines a year and look back like, that was the year of “going crazy” and *queue Lana del Rey song*.
For Camila, 2017 was “the year of uncomfortable.” That was the year she went vegetarian, and later vegan. Which being from Colombia where it’s “all meat” was truly out of the norm. She hired a personal trainer, met her now-boyfriend, entered into a long-distance relationship, moved to the Bay Area for a job, and shaved her head.
“You gotta stretch your comfort zone,” she told me. “You never know what you will like until you try it. Like Flex!”
Alan shared a similar story. Alan Sherlock is a transgender man who uses Flex discs, which he told me have helped him shed a lot of his menstrual dysphoria. “They’ve helped me feel ‘normal’ for the first time in quite a while.”
I asked Alan about a time he chose love over fear. He emailed me back,
“I’d say a ‘choosing love over fear’ moment was choosing to cut my hair into a masculine style. I know a haircut is mundane and boring but to me, taking that leap and having my long curls trimmed away was my way of claiming myself and who I am. It was about owning who I am and choosing to outwardly express that. To add to the act of happiness, I had my hair cut in, of all places, Walt Disney World lol. It was one of the first times I thought ‘this is for me, this is me.’
I think ‘choosing love over fear’ means to me that you own in your heart who you are, that your individual self knows your identity.”
The last person I spoke with was Diana—a bisexual, pansexual “queer, whatever,” femme, self-proclaimed nerd who has a podcast that explores nerd culture + inclusivity.
Diana also has lupus, PCOS, and diverticulosis. I got chills when she told me how she used to plan her birth control months in advance so she would get her periods mostly on her days off because they’re so painful. As a patient advocate, they were too difficult to manage while working.
Two months ago she messed up her timing and was too embarrassed to tell her boss about it.
To me, it was incredibly disheartening to hear someone say that they messed up by not planning their birth control well-enough in advance. But as Diana pointed out, she isn’t the only one out there who has to put this much work into their periods.
Diana is the FLEX user who kindly broke down how period poops occur.
As a little nerd myself, I know that nerd + geek culture can be misogynistic and not very inclusive. Diana told me that as a queer woman, she could tom-boy her way through things past the gatekeepers but then “you’re expected to chum about with the boys and objectify women.”
So her goals as a queer woman have changed a lot since she was a baby queer - recently out and covered in glitter + rainbows.
Diana is trying to make spaces “genuinely” instead of just existing in them. She’s celebrating Pride by being active in the community and lifting others up via the many projects she’s involved in, helping to bring IDEA to one of her beloved nerd conventions.
IDEA, if you don’t know stands for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access.
Diana has also made strides to educate herself, which is how FLEX drew her in. All her life she had been squeamish about periods and hadn’t tried tampons until she was in her 20’s. Then she saw an ad about FLEX discs referring to users as “menstruating humans.”
“That spoke to what was important to me.”
In today’s world where you can advocate by choosing where you spend your money, she felt that FLEX aligned with her values - especially when it comes to supporting her trans brothers and sisters.
I asked Diana to tell me about another time she chose love over fear.
“It’s painful because the first thing I think of is all the times I chose fear over love.”
She continued, “Because life isn’t a rom com. For queer people, choosing love over fear is to choose ourselves.”
It’s never a bad choice to choose yourself.
Diana continued, “To choose to not be afraid… To choose a weird circular thing and put it in your body…To love yourself out loud.”
I was swimming in Diana’s words. The funny thing about all of it is that as she told me her coming-out story, she herself didn’t realize it was her coming-out story. For her, it was the first time she dated a girl in school. They used to hang out in secret - specifically in the corridors near the band area because there were more nooks and crannies to hide.
She told me how she had been too afraid to tell people they were together but her girlfriend did not share this fear.
“And that shocked me.”
She told me about the first time they showed affection for each other in public.
“Her boldness to be unafraid made me unafraid.”
And that same night, Diana called her friends to tell them what was going on. She didn’t say much but it sounded as if they weren’t as receptive as she had hoped. Nonetheless, she seems to be living boldly nowadays and inspiring others along the way.
One of the core values of The Flex Company is to choose love over fear - whether it’s when you’re faced with a difficult conversation, fighting on behalf of a company-wide change you want to make, or deciding to give critical, but valuable, feedback to a co-worker because you care more about their growth than the temporary discomfort of that moment.
Even outside of work I like to ask myself, “Does this decision/action/choice/opinion come from a place of love?”
I chose love over fear when I volunteered to take on this project because one thing I do love more than anything is our customers.
Because I know them. We know them. They aren’t “just customers” to us. They’re people with periods, jobs, families, struggles - you name it! They’re married, in love, or recently single. They’re us, they’re you, they’re me.
And isn’t that what celebrating pride is all about? Outside of advocacy, action, and support, it’s about understanding one another as humans with their own stories of fear and love.
As Lin-Manual said, “love is love is love...” And it’s never a bad decision to choose love.