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Coffee shop celebrates Transgender Visibility Day

A cafe in Pottsville is taking time to acknowledge Transgender Visibility Day by highlighting staff and customers who help make their dining area a safe space.

POTTSVILLE, Pa. — On a typical day at Pressed Coffee & Books in downtown Pottsville, you'll see customers going in and out with drinks in their hands.

Store manager Coal Morningstar says it's more than a coffee shop; it's his safe space, saying he's never felt this safe in the workplace as a transgender man.

"I came here, to be honest with you, not knowing if I was going to be allowed to stay here, if I was going to make it here, if I could make it here, worried if the customers were going to be too much," Morningstar said.

Morningstar said that those fears quickly went away. If anything, Pressed allowed him to create a welcoming place for anyone, which he says he didn't have while growing up in Pottsville.

"I've been trying to create an atmosphere and like we have more trans kids than ever that come in here. We have more queer kids than ever come in here."

But Morningstar's mission goes beyond the walls of Pressed. He and Schuylkill Pride founder Mikaela Gavaletz are using their personal stories to educate others about the transgender community.

"If they have somebody out in the forefront that's not afraid to go out there and lead the charge, I'm sure I'll have an army behind me, and I'm more than happy to be that general to fight for the rights of people," Gavaletz said.

Gavaletz moved back to her hometown of Pottsville after transitioning in California. Since then, she's organized pride festivals every year in Schuylkill County and has seen the support grow for the transgender community.

"Once you settle in and find that you have allies in your community, especially one here in Schuylkill County and in the Pottsville area, it's just a dynamic feeling of support," Gavaletz said.

They both hope other workplaces in Schuylkill County will support the transgender community like owners Abby and Bobby Weaver do at Pressed.

"All you have to do is understand that they are our neighbors, and our community members, and probably your family," Bobby Weaver said. "It's not like this is ever going to change, so you just treat them like anybody else."

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