I'm Out, Proud and Still Working for Equality

As anyone on the LGBT spectrum can tell you, coming out is an intensely personal decision, one in which each individual battles with their own challenges and fears before coming to a moment at which the answer becomes clear.

There's no question but that my internal debate took quite some time. But it isn't how long you take to get there, it's the effect on your life when you do.

My personal experience and my informal survey of friends and acquaintances shows that the act of coming out does several things simultaneously.

It lifts a massive weight from your shoulders.

It lets you breathe deeply and experience life in an a way that gives you an all-new appreciation of the breadth and depth of human possibility.

And it puts a smile on your face that is all but impossible to wipe off.

And then there's the effect of the message each person coming out sends to others, those working through their own challenges, as they recognize their identities.

We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. But nowhere is that more evident than in the world of those of us who are transgender.

Today it's a place of annual celebration and nightly fellowship, but on June 28, 1969 the Stonewall inn was the place where three incredibly brave transgender women of color ignited the movement for LGBT equality.

Knowing the debt we all owe to Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, and that the Stonewall was where, exactly 49 years earlier, they had stood up, I knew how important it would be to hold my first community focused event right there.

I can't begin to tell you how I felt walking up to see my name on the Stonewall board - a place that had seen the names of so many of those heroes, sung and unsung, who cleared the path for my authenticity and that of so many others.

Their examples were what I saw and their integrity was something I found inspiring as I made my decision to come out. And to be honored by the endorsement of the LGBT Victory Fund, an organization that their bravery and the hard work of so many in this community made possible, is something I truly treasure.

Our community is truly diverse, spanning every age, every race, every point along the gender spectrum. But what we all share is a need for equality, and our progress in this area has been increasingly and horrifyingly under attack since the disastrous election of November 2016.

Our conversations since then have understandably focused primarily on trying to preserve the gains of the Obama years. But now it's time for us to push back, to get off of defense and get back to progress.

And that was not far from my mind when, as we saw the forces of Trump, Pence and their enablers begin to move on our freedom, that I accepted the request of my town's Democrats that I run for Town Supervisor.

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At the time the Democrats asked me to run I was completely unaware that never before in New York history had any major party nominated a transgender candidate for any publicly elective office.

And it's truly gratifying that the Women's Equality and Working Families Parties quickly added their endorsements.

Election Day is November 7, 2017. In every election - but especially in a town like New Castle, your vote can make the difference!