“Feeling better about yourself is an incremental thing,” Kwiecinski says. “Often times, I find myself feeling a little lost – sometimes majorly lost – and it just takes time. I do whatever I can to make myself feel that much better, whether that's just getting some alone time or meeting and hanging out with friends people that support me, really dig me for who I am and telling them whats up.”
It wasn't until his freshman year of college that he met openly gay people, or people of any walk of life who accepted their perceived differences with pride. They weren't exactly like him, but they were confident, courageous and encouraging.
“I finally had role models,” he remembers. “They didn't think twice about it. They just were who they were, and people around them just knew them for that … It takes time and it takes effort, but all the effort and all the time that you take to put into working on yourself, whether that's your anxiety or self body images like 'I want to lose weight' or 'I'm not comfortable being this gender' or 'I am bisexual' or 'I am gay.' Whatever it is, self-worth means the entire world. It's not going be easy, but its always worth it.”
Kwiecinski's relationship with MeUndies began a few years ago as a customer. They started sending him products, and he always found them fun to look at and comfortable to wear. When they reached out about being a spokesman for their Pride Collection, in honor of June as national LGBTQ+ Pride Month, it a the full circle opportunity he jumped to fulfill.
“I'll do everything I can to promote a space of peace for people,” he says. “No two people are alike. I really like to believe that. Maybe these two people are exactly the same but one person prefers catsup and one person prefers mustard. However, It is just nice to be able to find people in this planet that are somewhat like you or that you can relate to. It's so soothing and comforting, and when you lack to see a representation of yourself in society, it starts to feel really lonely. Maybe I can be that reflection point.”
The Pride collection is vibrant and fanciful with goodies for men, women and everyone in between. There are boxer briefs with flying unicorns and messages that say “proud to be me.” There are bandanas and pajamas, graphic tees, bralettes and more.
For every product sold, MeUndies will donate $1 to the Happy Hippie Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to awareness and support for homeless youth, LGBTQ+ youth and other vulnerable groups. It's Kwiecinski's first time working with the organization, and he finds the role a great honor.
“Education is the most important thing,” he says. “We've got to support our young kids [and] give them avenues to learn new stuff … I believe in the power of the human spirit. We are resilient, and if I can be an example of one type of resilience of one kind of thing, and someone can look at me and say, 'Yo, I dig that," then cool. It's important to seek out and to be able to be you. The more that all of us can do that, the more we can all feel a little bit less weird about who we think that we are.”
The MeUndies Pride Collection is available now online, and there are yet more fun things from the company's partnership with Griz yet to come. For now, Kwiecinski just wants everyone to know that whatever they're going through, they're not going through it alone, and if they keep their head up and take even one step forward each day, it will get better.
“There is no such thing as the end of the rainbow,” he says. “It doesn't end every single day is a new challenge but you'll grow to get more and more skills and have more abilities to be able to deal with the bullshit that life throws at you and gets better and better.”