From Personal Growth to Pretzels: Lupin stands outdoors in an industrial parking lot, smiling for the camera. With his left hand, he's reaching down to pet Pluma, his German Shepherd guide dog.

My name’s Lupin, and my guide dog is Pluma. We’ve been traveling together since July 2014: from the middle of nowhere (aka, Southern Vermont), the barrier islands of North Carolina where the wild horses run, through a crowd of thousands at Anime Boston, to the seacoast of New Hampshire. She’s my energetic knucklehead, and there’s so much I wouldn’t have done without her.

Before I blab about how she and I are doing today though, there’s something else I should say.

During high school, I was an active member of a writers’ group, but once I got to college I stopped sharing my writing, because I stopped sharing anything. I stayed away from what could have been a welcoming community because I no longer trusted myself enough to keep my anxiety in check. I hid and isolated, thinking it kept others safe from my mess, kept me safe from it. But it didn’t; it never does.

For years I hesitated to include certain parts of my identity when applying for writing conferences, internships, or jobs. I was scared that I would be chosen for my token attributes and not for my merit as a writer.

From Personal Growth to Pretzels

In June of 2018 I decided to take time off school and focus on my mental health. Since then, I’ve learned that my experiences as a blind, gay, transgender man are something to be embraced and shared. To that end, I published my first short story, started working on a novel, and I got a job… in the middle of the pandemic!

I work at Port City Pretzels, a woman-owned small business in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where the founder Suzanne always says, “Anyone can do anything!” And, she means it. Most of our employees are disabled, and many are members of the LGBTQ community – like me, who’s both.

I found PCP through New Hampshire’s Vocational Rehabilitation services, and started out in the office filling orders and tracking payments. But, when the opportunity arose for me to manage our social media, Suzanne told me to go for it!

I write the posts, respond to messages, reply or react in the comments, and handle any questions that come from our followers. I even got to help organize a poll for our customers to vote on the name of our newest flavor, Tangy Mustard ’N Honey!

I’ve helped finagle the release of a specialty doughnut made with our Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels, and I’ve enjoyed many a beverage from NH breweries while munching on my favorite flavor, Feisty Hot. Not everybody gets to work for a place they love and believe in, but I do!

About the Author

You can find Lupin on Instagram at @LupinThurrott being a nerd about poetry, Spanish, Star Wars, or chickens. (Yes, there are totally goofy dog dad videos of Pluma as well – please enjoy!)

To learn more about Port City Pretzels, check them out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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