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Pride Stories: Amanda Mikos

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Wearing Pride on Her Sleeve

Rainbow brushstrokes are scattered across Amanda Mikos’ (she/her) left arm from wrist to inner elbow. The Ethos North Fayette shift lead’s tattoo boasts energetic reds, oranges, and yellows alongside deep, calming greens, blues, and purples. Across the brushstrokes is an equal sign, the international marker of LGBTQ+ equality. The symbol consists of two outlines in black overlaying the colors, so the rainbow can shine through. Mikos quite literally wears LGBTQ+ pride on her sleeve.

“When queer patients come through, they immediately see living proof that we are out here,” Mikos shared. “When they come in and see this tattoo on my arm, they are more comfortable saying they are in the queer community, too. It’s an amazing tattoo and I love what it stands for, and I love how it puts visibility front and center.”

Mikos, 26, was first introduced to the cannabis industry at Girls in Wonderland, an annual event in Orlando, Florida, geared toward the lesbian community. There, Mikos volunteered to table for a dispensary that sponsored the event, providing her with an initial introduction into the cannabis industry. 

“I wasn’t working at a dispensary when I first started consuming cannabis, but the opportunity to volunteer at this table at Girls in Wonderland fell into my lap,” Mikos said. “I had no idea what was going to happen there. It was there I met my soon-to-be manager, landed an interview, and got my first position in a dispensary. They took me in, and the rest is history. I quickly realized that me and cannabis were meant to be.”

Mikos soon realized that working in cannabis was not just a job, but a calling. Prior to transitioning into the cannabis industry, Mikos worked as an administrative assistant in a rheumatology office, but it was not bringing her the satisfaction she wanted or needed in a healthcare-oriented position.

“I used to work in healthcare, but it really wasn’t speaking to me,” Mikos said. “Without going to medical school, working in cannabis is the closest I can get to the healthcare aspect of helping patients and sharing my experience with cannabis with everyone who comes through.”

For Mikos, who is a medical cannabis patient in Pennsylvania, cannabis plays a significant role in the mental health of many in the LGBTQ+ community.

“Cannabis really helps me personally – it helps me with my depression, uplifts my mood when I’m feeling down, and it helps with my anxiety; depression and anxiety go hand in hand,” Mikos said. “Mental health is such a huge thing in the queer community. So many are suffering from so many ailments, and so many of us suffer from the same ailments.”

She’s far from alone: According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people are more than twice as likely to experience a mental health issue. According to Human Rights Watch, these rates increase among LGBTQ+ people of color. Thanks to its demonstrated link to helping manage mental health issues like anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cannabis is a natural fit for LGBTQ+ individuals looking for a way to help their mental health.

“To be able to have something natural like cannabis to help support and alleviate some of those terrible symptoms from panic attacks, PTSD, depression, and anxiety, is life-changing,” Mikos said. “I can’t imagine my life without cannabis, and I want to share that experience with everyone who walks in the door.”

Mikos underscored the importance of reaching out to the trans community. According to NAMI, transgender people are four times more likely than their cisgender counterparts to experience a mental health issue. In the dispensary, Mikos said, she has more flexibility to quickly accommodate for a patient’s pronouns and their preferred name than she did working in the healthcare industry. 

“Trans rights are human rights. Trans people are here,” Mikos said. “In a medical office, a trans person is more likely to be assigned their birth name, but at the dispensary, we can quickly take note of their preferred name, so they have the ability to come in and not be called by their deadname.” 

Mikos said that she takes extra care to learn the preferred name of a trans customer and commit it to memory.

“It seems like such a simple thing to call someone by the right name and pronouns, but it’s so important for trans people – they already go through so many hardships,” Mikos said. “I want trans people to feel safe with me and safe with my team.”

For Mikos, creating a safe environment within Ethos’ four walls is deeply intertwined with her desire to help others, her love of cannabis, and pride in her LGBTQ+ identity.

“I want people to have a good quality of life, and I want them to be happy,” Mikos said. “It’s a real passion project for me to be able to talk about cannabis, breathe cannabis, and live cannabis every day.”

Read more Pride Stories here

 

Wearing Pride on Her Sleeve

Rainbow brushstrokes are scattered across Amanda Mikos’ (she/her) left arm from wrist to inner elbow. The Ethos North Fayette shift lead’s tattoo boasts energetic reds, oranges, and yellows alongside deep, calming greens, blues, and purples. Across the brushstrokes is an equal sign, the international marker of LGBTQ+ equality. The symbol consists of two outlines in black overlaying the colors, so the rainbow can shine through. Mikos quite literally wears LGBTQ+ pride on her sleeve.

“When queer patients come through, they immediately see living proof that we are out here,” Mikos shared. “When they come in and see this tattoo on my arm, they are more comfortable saying they are in the queer community, too. It’s an amazing tattoo and I love what it stands for, and I love how it puts visibility front and center.”

Mikos, 26, was first introduced to the cannabis industry at Girls in Wonderland, an annual event in Orlando, Florida, geared toward the lesbian community. There, Mikos volunteered to table for a dispensary that sponsored the event, providing her with an initial introduction into the cannabis industry. 

“I wasn’t working at a dispensary when I first started consuming cannabis, but the opportunity to volunteer at this table at Girls in Wonderland fell into my lap,” Mikos said. “I had no idea what was going to happen there. It was there I met my soon-to-be manager, landed an interview, and got my first position in a dispensary. They took me in, and the rest is history. I quickly realized that me and cannabis were meant to be.”

Mikos soon realized that working in cannabis was not just a job, but a calling. Prior to transitioning into the cannabis industry, Mikos worked as an administrative assistant in a rheumatology office, but it was not bringing her the satisfaction she wanted or needed in a healthcare-oriented position.

“I used to work in healthcare, but it really wasn’t speaking to me,” Mikos said. “Without going to medical school, working in cannabis is the closest I can get to the healthcare aspect of helping patients and sharing my experience with cannabis with everyone who comes through.”

For Mikos, who is a medical cannabis patient in Pennsylvania, cannabis plays a significant role in the mental health of many in the LGBTQ+ community.

“Cannabis really helps me personally – it helps me with my depression, uplifts my mood when I’m feeling down, and it helps with my anxiety; depression and anxiety go hand in hand,” Mikos said. “Mental health is such a huge thing in the queer community. So many are suffering from so many ailments, and so many of us suffer from the same ailments.”

She’s far from alone: According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people are more than twice as likely to experience a mental health issue. According to Human Rights Watch, these rates increase among LGBTQ+ people of color. Thanks to its demonstrated link to helping manage mental health issues like anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cannabis is a natural fit for LGBTQ+ individuals looking for a way to help their mental health.

“To be able to have something natural like cannabis to help support and alleviate some of those terrible symptoms from panic attacks, PTSD, depression, and anxiety, is life-changing,” Mikos said. “I can’t imagine my life without cannabis, and I want to share that experience with everyone who walks in the door.”

Mikos underscored the importance of reaching out to the trans community. According to NAMI, transgender people are four times more likely than their cisgender counterparts to experience a mental health issue. In the dispensary, Mikos said, she has more flexibility to quickly accommodate for a patient’s pronouns and their preferred name than she did working in the healthcare industry. 

“Trans rights are human rights. Trans people are here,” Mikos said. “In a medical office, a trans person is more likely to be assigned their birth name, but at the dispensary, we can quickly take note of their preferred name, so they have the ability to come in and not be called by their deadname.” 

Mikos said that she takes extra care to learn the preferred name of a trans customer and commit it to memory.

“It seems like such a simple thing to call someone by the right name and pronouns, but it’s so important for trans people – they already go through so many hardships,” Mikos said. “I want trans people to feel safe with me and safe with my team.”

For Mikos, creating a safe environment within Ethos’ four walls is deeply intertwined with her desire to help others, her love of cannabis, and pride in her LGBTQ+ identity.

“I want people to have a good quality of life, and I want them to be happy,” Mikos said. “It’s a real passion project for me to be able to talk about cannabis, breathe cannabis, and live cannabis every day.”

Read more Pride Stories here

 

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