I’ve always been a proud ally of the LGBTQIA+ community. When I was 15, I gave my first speech for gay rights because I desperately wanted my community and my country to make progress toward equality.
A few years after that speech, my brother came out. I still admire his bravery to this day. When he told us, there were very few legal protections in place for LGBTQIA+ Americans. My parents were understandably worried my brother would be treated differently. They feared who he loved would limit his future.
But all over the country, families like mine were having the same conversations. Brave LGBTQIA+ Americans were coming out and opening people’s minds. They were talking to their families and demanding to be seen. Eventually, as a nation, we made progress. In the Connecticut legislature, I was able to vote in favor of marriage equality -- and my brother happily married his long-time partner.
However, we still haven’t achieved full equality. Since there isn’t a national anti-discrimination law that protects LGBTQIA+ individuals, states are trying to pass discriminatory laws. Many people still live in fear of being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identification.
That’s why coming out remains an act of bravery. It matters. For National Coming Out Month, sign your name and stand in support of equality so more LGBTQIA+ Americans feel safe enough to come out and live openly.