For the fourth year in a row, AE is proud to support the It Gets Better Project by donating 100% of sales of our annual Pride collection to the nonprofit, which uplifts, empowers, and connects LGBTQ+ youth around the world. But inclusivity starts from the inside out, which is why we’re taking this opportunity to reflect on what equality, individuality, and a better future mean to us.
We kicked off our series of guest posts about love, acceptance, and how it really DOES get better with our Global Brand President, Chad Kessler, and followed up with a post from Nate Christopher about finding love through loving yourself. Now Maple Chen, a merchant at our Pittsburgh corporate campus, shares her story about using her voice to help others feed heard.
Associate Merchant, Women’s Jeans
I wasn’t one of those kids who “just knew” from a young age that they were different. It took me until college to figure out that I wasn’t straight, and another two years from there to feel comfortable enough to talk to anyone besides my closest friends about it. One of the reasons it took me so long to realize was that there was very little representation in mainstream media, and what I did see was specific to gay men – maybe I couldn’t completely relate to Ross and Rachel, but I also didn’t feel a kinship with Neil Patrick Harris.
The fact that AE has a Pride collection and gives to charities supporting LGBTQ+ youth is a reminder to me of how far we have come in terms of visibility. It’s a huge step from debating same-sex marriage in my ninth-grade government class to being part of a huge brand like AE that is celebrating people like me.
I’m proud to be part of a company that understands how important it is to make LGBTQ+ kids feel understood, and I hope I can inspire people just by living my life authentically and speaking my truth.
To anyone reading this who feels like people just don’t get it: We see you, we were you, and we made it. Find the people who make you feel like you can be yourself unapologetically, and then use your voice to stand up and help others feel the same.
Everyone has a story to tell. What’s yours? Share it with #ItGetsBetter @americaneagle to show your support and inspire LGBTQ+ youth around the world!