I didn’t ‘always know’ that I was a lesbian. I might have if I knew I was in a world where that was an equally acceptable option. It wasn’t then, and for so many it still isn’t now. I ‘came out’ when I was 17. I had a boyfriend whom I adored and I knew that it would break both of our hearts. I had a family who I knew would not be immediately accepting, and I was in high school in a suburban city in Minnesota. The deck was seemingly stacked against me – and much of what I expected to happen, did. My boyfriend got made fun of for ‘turning me into a lesbian’, my family was not pleased, and high school became profoundly more uncomfortable. Looking back though, here’s what I remember the most:

My boyfriend said he loved me no matter what and we are still in touch to this day. My mom started leading diversity trainings at her job, and the year after I came out, she marched at the Pride Parade. My school counselor and my best friend (who was the student council president at the time) changed the grand march announcement for prom so I could be announced with the woman that I went to prom with.

I don’t feel that everyone has to, or should, ‘come out’. I don’t think that I would have been living an inauthentic existence if I hadn’t. The truth is, that even though I remember the good, there is still bad. There are hate crimes, stereotypes, families who disown LGBTQ+ youth, and employers and members of society who are legally discriminating. There is still systemic oppression that I wouldn’t invite anyone into.

National Coming Out Day has historically been a day to mark and advocate for the rights and awareness of this community. Most importantly, it’s a chance to show people that there is support, love, and acceptance should they choose to ‘come out’. As someone who is legally able to marry, and has been afforded so many other rights through the work of activists before me, I will take any opportunity to wave a flag in gratitude for their efforts and for all those still fighting today. What I hope for is a world where no one needs to ‘come out’ and where we show up in support, every day.

I got involved with Mike’s campaign after seeing him and his family at Denver Pridefest. He and his family showed up. The whole family. Mike, his wife, and his kids. I heard the way that he and his wife were teaching their kids about this community, about my community. They were not saying that this was just something that they had to publicly show up for – and that Pridefest was a day to celebrate. They were teaching them to advocate and support this community, it’s people, and its causes. I was honored to march next to Mike, his family, and his supporters.

I believe that Mike possesses a unique and necessary skill in his ability to reach across the aisle. This now, more than ever, will be critical to pass legislation. He makes an effort to know the people in this state and learn their experience. I have seen him do this across party lines, across socio-economic status, and in many different communities. He has never dodged a question and always has a thoughtful and educated response. I am impressed with him both personally and politically.
––Aimee Becker