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Exploring Life & Business with Grace Stephenson of Glimmer

For many womxn and LGBTQ+ individuals, affirming therapy is hard to find, expensive, and a daunting task. Therapy is all about processing, healing, and growing in a safe space. For many womxn and LGBTQ+ individuals, finding a safe space is easier said than done. Despite many therapist’s best efforts, they often fail to empathize and connect with their clients if they don’t have shared experiences or don’t have informed training. This was the experience for Grace, Glimmer’s founder. After seeking therapy following a traumatic event and coming out as pansexual, Grace struggled to find a therapist who could meet her needs. When meeting with therapists, they often minimized her experience and offered little help. Every time she met with a therapist, she had to relive her traumatic experiences, which was often met with a blank stare and an awkward silence. This was discouraging and left her unmotivated to continue trying to seek therapy. When venting to a group of womxn and queer friends about her experience, she was surprised to find that most had oddly similar stories. Some had been through many therapists before finding the right fit, and others had simply given up. Grace thought that there should be a better way to get people the help they need.

Shortly after this discussion, Grace searched online for therapists that specialized in gender- and sexuality-informed trauma. After going through the online search process of many websites that claimed to offer specialized therapy services, she still couldn’t find a therapist who met her needs. After conducting broader surveys of a diverse set of womxn and LGBTQ+ friends and colleagues, it became glaringly obvious that many people shared the experience of Grace and her friends and were looking for a therapist or service that could meet their needs. The survey resulted in over 200 responses from female-identifying and LGBTQ+ individuals across the United States in just under one week. Surprisingly, these responses came not just from marginalized groups but from every racial, gender, sexual, and geographic demographic. Grace also heard back from many participants that they not only wanted to have a safe space to process their experiences but that they also wanted a safe space to interact with others like them and engage with fulfilling content.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Our community is so incredibly resilient and supportive. We just launched in July 2020, and we have already matched over 300 clients to affirming therapists. There have obviously been bumps in the road, like for example, womxn and LGBTQ+ businesses are extraordinarily underfunded. Despite that, we have stayed alive and are working so hard to keep providing this service to our community. And it’s fun! I am so honored to have a company that is doesn’t feel like work to me. I genuinely enjoy working now – which is something I have seldom felt in the past!

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Glimmer?
We like to describe ourselves as like a match-making site but to find queer affirming Wellness Professionals. Glimmer provides an online space that connects womxn and LGBTQ+ individuals to affirming mental and sexual health professionals. We connect clients with affirming, inclusive therapists, personal coaches, and other wellness professionals who have been thoroughly vetted and interviewed. It’s very thorough – we take into account a person’s specific needs, experiences, and identities and connect them with a wellness professional who is trained and specialized in serving that client best. Oh, and it’s always free for clients! Beyond connections with wellness professionals, Glimmer’s website also provides clients with a safe and inclusive community. This includes a womxn and queer-owned marketplace, blogs from amazing queer writers, and LGBTQ+ and womxn-centered resources like health resources, but also cultural and creative resources (like movies, books, podcasts, etc.).

Here, users can cultivate their sexual and creative expression through workshops, webinars, media recommendations, and other explorations. At our shop, you can buy Glimmer stickers, mugs, and more – all custom art designs with empowering and social justice-oriented designs. They’re so beautiful, I always want to stick them on everything! We also have a marketplace, which is a showcase of womxn & queer-owned small businesses, where you can buy anything from reusable pads to pride candles, jewelry, lube, and more! We’re also very proud of our branding, logos, and style. We have an amazing graphic designer who helped us come up with our unique style. It’s very fun, bright, and uplifting in my mind. We wanted to showcase with this how Glimmer is not only an educational resource but a fun and empowering space to be.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs or other resources you think our readers should check out?
I’m honestly a huge fan of paper planners like I can not use ones online or in apps. They never stick with me! I use a written planner every day and it helps me stay organized (plus, it is so satisfying to check things off a list manually!). My current planner is a cute little rainbow one from Ban.do. I love Jen Sincero’s You Are A Badass. That book makes me feel like I can do anything! It not only helped motivate me to start Glimmer but honestly just makes me smile and feel better about myself. I suffer from anxiety, so the affirmations and practical tools in You Are A Badass have really helped center me when I am not feeling so hot.

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Image Credits

Photographer (Grace Headshot): Mana Thananta Graphic Designer (Logos and Stickers): Pauline Esguerra

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