My passion for LGBTQ equality started half a lifetime ago in my hometown of Fort Collins, Colo. I was a high school sophomore in 1992 when the anti-LGBTQ Amendment 2 passed in the state. Although I couldn’t yet vote, the ballot measure was a topic of daily conversation in the then-conservative community.
I clearly remember the day when student council members wore homemade “Yes on 2” t-shirts to school. As teachers laughingly dismissed the hate speech, one of my friends, Kelly, tearfully came out to me and said he was afraid for his own safety.
Four years later, Matthew Shepherd’s violent murder in nearby Laramie, Wyo., felt close to home. By then, I was finishing college and starting a career in political communications. I volunteered for progressive causes and ultimately founded Portland-based Brink Communications, a marketing and PR firm focused on “communications for good.”
This year, my youngest daughter started kindergarten. I had an ‘a-ha’ moment about what it will take to make sure my girls grow up in a different world than the one I grew up in—and I made the decision to invest in Basic Rights Oregon.
Our family’s message to both daughters has always been that their dad and I are proud of them, that we want them to love who they love and be who they are. But on the first day of school in September, as I waved goodbye to kindergartener Nora and second grader Eliza, I realized I will no longer be the filter for everything they hear, learn and experience. And I realized that keeping them from the violence and hate that were so formative in my teenage years means I need to expand my work to a more global scale.