When you are

QUEER

You have a lot of

HATE

Thrown at you…

Hello. I’m Steve Petersen, the originator of Bursting Through, let’s talk about the brand.
Bursting Through is what happened when my personal passion and professional skills connected and decided they had something to say. It is a reflection of my life but not a mirror image and in some ways has been creating itself my entire life. To understand Bursting through you have to know a bit about my journey.
I grew up in Audubon, IA, population 2000. It’s a slice of Americana smack dab in the middle of the country. Audubon has one stoplight, five churches, and three bars and is the proud home to Albert, the Worlds’ Largest Bull.

In high school, I was a show choir geek, (making it look cool way before Glee), an honor student and a tennis player who dreamed of a life beyond the cornfields of Iowa and away from the shadow of that ENORMOUS bull. During this time, I also became an uncle to what grew to be a clan of 14 nieces and nephews. I was a gay uncle before #guncle was a thing.

In high school, I was a show choir geek, (making it look cool way before Glee), an honor student and a tennis player who dreamed of a life beyond the cornfields of Iowa and away from the shadow of that ENORMOUS bull. During this time, I also became an uncle to what grew to be a clan of 14 nieces and nephews. I was a gay uncle before #guncle was a thing.

After high school, I went to Iowa State and studied Fashion Merchandising and then leaped into a career on a meteoric rise. I decided to follow my happiness and career and I never turned down an offer to experience something new. My first stop was Kansas City and then around the midwest to numerous places before landing in Saint Cloud, MN. In St. Cloud, I became the Divisional Vice President of Visual Merchandising for a Division of Saks, INC. This was all before I was 30 and it had been a pretty cool ride.
Through multiple cities, homes, and friends I was also on a journey of self-discovery. I found I was not just building a resume but building my character. Along the way I found the courage to come out and started living life as my authentic self. That came with a community of amazing, colorful and fierce people that opened my mind to a whole new world. I lived, loved and left a lot of places and never regretted any of it.
In my 30’s I landed my dream job in New York City and stopped living out of my imagination and onto the streets of Manhattan. I lived four blocks from the Empire State Building, worked on Fashion Avenue and found myself amongst some of the most talented people in the retail industry. It was my own personal The Devil Wears Prada, but with a better boss.
Those years in Manhattan were transformative in every way. I had experiences far beyond the imagination of a kid in rural Iowa. My job let me decorate Radio City Music Hall for the Christmas Spectacular, I got to go to Broadway shows and I befriended amazing, quirky, fascinating people who lived out loud and fearlessly.
All dreams end and my NYC dream ended with a corporate restructure and the elimination of my job. It had happened before but this time it was different. What do you do when your dream has been fulfilled? It wasn’t all bad. I had done what I set out to do when I was 18 and first went to Manhattan on a study tour. It had been another pretty cool ride.
I decided to reinvented myself and I got a job teaching Visual and Fashion Merchandising at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Teaching had been another childhood dream and I was given an opportunity, so I moved West. In my head, it was going to be my own personal Boy Meets World with me in the role of a younger, cooler Mr. Feeny. In reality, it was more like Mean Girls.
In my 30’s I landed my dream job in New York City and stopped living out of my imagination and onto the streets of Manhattan. I lived four blocks from the Empire State Building, worked on Fashion Avenue and found myself amongst some of the most talented people in the retail industry. It was my own personal The Devil Wears Prada, but with a better boss.
Those years in Manhattan were transformative in every way. I had experiences far beyond the imagination of a kid in rural Iowa. My job let me decorate Radio City Music Hall for the Christmas Spectacular, I got to go to Broadway shows and I befriended amazing, quirky, fascinating people who lived out loud and fearlessly.
All dreams end and my NYC dream ended with a corporate restructure and the elimination of my job. It had happened before but this time it was different. What do you do when your dream has been fulfilled? It wasn’t all bad. I had done what I set out to do when I was 18 and first went to Manhattan on a study tour. It had been another pretty cool ride.
I decided to reinvented myself and I got a job teaching Visual and Fashion Merchandising at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Teaching had been another childhood dream and I was given an opportunity, so I moved West. In my head, it was going to be my own personal Boy Meets World with me in the role of a younger, cooler Mr. Feeny. In reality, it was more like Mean Girls.
My time in NYC had been such a creative outlet for me, while teaching was not. I knew I had a creative itch to scratch and I knew my 50th birthday was approaching so I decided to combine the two. This was the first time I introduced my personal passion and my professional skills and I created a fundraiser for my 50th birthday to benefit The Matthew Shepard Foundation.
Matthew Shepard was a college student at the University of Wyoming who was beaten, tortured and left to die near Laramie, Wyoming on October 6, 1998. He died six days later, for no other reason than he was gay. I didn’t know Matthew and he was 8 years younger than me but in many ways, I was him. I’ve always felt a connection to him and have always known that was nothing but dumb luck that kept me from encountering the same fate in Iowa. The event became Skate against Hate. I wanted it to be a family-friendly event where adults and kids could engage and roller skating seemed perfect. The Matthew Shepard Foundation tagline is ERASE HATE, so it kind of named itself.
My primary motivation for hosting Skate Against Hate was to allow me and others to give back and to raise money and awareness for the foundation. My secondary motivation was to get my family and friends to see the world through my eyes as a gay man, if even just for a moment. My family or friends had never made gay an issue and neither had I, but that often made it too easy for all of us to pretend that horrific things do not happen to members of the LTBGQ community where I proudly belonged.
I engaged a talented graphic designer to create an event logo. He brilliantly created a dual starburst design by drawing inspiration from the Foundation. It was energetic, smart and powerful. It was perfect to use for invites and most importantly t-shirts. My vision was that everyone who attended would wear an event t-shirt.
To my surprise, two things happened when we started promoting the event. The first was that people not attending wanted to buy the shirts simply because they liked the design. The dual starburst was giving people a feeling of hope and positive energy.
The second unexpected thing was that straight friends that I adored, started sharing stories about how a gay family member or friend had impacted their life. I LOVED this. It was mind-blowing, heartwarming, and completely unexpected. Something bigger than me was going on and I was aware of it but not exactly sure what it was.
I heard from a high school classmate who was raising a gay son about how that had shaped him as a man and a father. I heard from someone who openly admitted that for many years they hated anyone who was gay, but through love and personal growth had learned that was wrong. I heard from a college friend who still mourned her gay uncle that was lost during the AIDS crisis. The stories were everywhere. Each story was equally powerful and filled with love, personal growth, and acceptance. It was truly amazing and I knew that someday, someway I had to find a way to give voice to these stories and others like them. The timing just needed to be right.
Life has a way of bringing things to you when you need them. After two years in San Francisco, I got a creative job in Las Vegas. Living in the desert is awesome but the job was not, partially because my passion was elsewhere. I kept thinking about Skate Against Hate and how it had sparked something.
Something that was way bigger than me and needed to come to life. There are extraordinary stories of love and compassion that need to be told, heard and celebrated. There is merchandise to create and sell that celebrates these special relationships and a community that needs to be built.
The time is NOW and THIS is BURSTING THROUGH.
To my surprise, two things happened when we started promoting the event. The first was that people not attending wanted to buy the shirts simply because they liked the design. The dual starburst was giving people a feeling of hope and positive energy.
The second unexpected thing was that straight friends that I adored, started sharing stories about how a gay family member or friend had impacted their life. I LOVED this. It was mind-blowing, heartwarming, and completely unexpected. Something bigger than me was going on and I was aware of it but not exactly sure what it was.
I heard from a high school classmate who was raising a gay son about how that had shaped him as a man and a father. I heard from someone who openly admitted that for many years they hated anyone who was gay, but through love and personal growth had learned that was wrong. I heard from a college friend who still mourned her gay uncle that was lost during the AIDS crisis. The stories were everywhere. Each story was equally powerful and filled with love, personal growth, and acceptance. It was truly amazing and I knew that someday, someway I had to find a way to give voice to these stories and others like them. The timing just needed to be right.
Life has a way of bringing things to you when you need them. After two years in San Francisco, I got a creative job in Las Vegas. Living in the desert is awesome but the job was not, partially because my passion was elsewhere. I kept thinking about Skate Against Hate and how it had sparked something.
Something that was way bigger than me and needed to come to life. There are extraordinary stories of love and compassion that need to be told, heard and celebrated. There is merchandise to create and sell that celebrates these special relationships and a community that needs to be built.
The time is NOW and THIS is BURSTING THROUGH.

Bursting Through is a member-supported grassroots storytelling movement for the Queer/Straight relationship. Bursting Through believes stories are
the most powerful change agents in the world.

We gather and produce Queer/Straight stories to share via ever-expanding multiple media channels. Our stories make an impact and deliver the Bursting Through Experience, which is our Mission in action: recycling hate into love.

As Bursting Through continues to gather, produce and share Queer/Straight stories, delivering the Bursting Through Experience, we realize the Bursting Through Vision: Sustainable Equality for the Queer population.

We invite you to have the Bursting Through Experience for yourself and we invite you to join the Bursting Through Movement.

Hello. I’m Steve Petersen, the originator of Bursting Through, let’s talk about the brand.
Bursting Through is what happened when my personal passion and professional skills connected and decided they had something to say. It is a reflection of my life but not a mirror image and in some ways has been creating itself my entire life. To understand Bursting through you have to know a bit about my journey.
I grew up in Audubon, IA, population 2000. It’s a slice of Americana smack dab in the middle of the country. Audubon has one stoplight, five churches, and three bars and is the proud home to Albert, the Worlds’ Largest Bull.

I’m Steve Petersen, Founder of Bursting Through. I’m on a mission to recycle hate into love through the power of storytelling. My 27-year career in marketing and visual merchandising took me on a journey from rural Iowa to Fortune 500 companies in Manhattan.

While my professional success informed much of my life’s work, it was my journey of coming out in my mid-20’s that cemented my core values of compassion, courage and change.

This Movement is empowered in part by my exhaustion as a 53-year-old-queer-man who can no longer stand the absolute absurdity of my civil rights being the subject of debate.

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