As a first year law student at Stanford in 2006, I didn’t know much. I knew I wanted to help people. I knew I wanted to do something that helped queer people or people of color. And I knew I was homesick for my family I left back in Nebraska to start this new adventure in my life.
When I walked into a small classroom to volunteer for NCLR, I had no idea that I would be able to learn so much and address all of my first year law student wants. At NCLR, I’ve found a place that helps both LGBTQ people and people of color. NCLR has always been on the cutting edge of advocating for both of these groups in a genuine and authentic way.
From that first day in the classroom, it was clear: NCLR just gets it. Just does it. Not only do they understand the intersectionalities of multiple oppressions, but they also make sure no part of the LGBTQ community is left behind. No matter how you identify. No matter where you live. No matter how much you make.
When I was presented with the opportunity to join the board in 2010, I could not pass it up. I loved being a law student who gave legal advice to those in need through the NCLR helpline, but serving as a board member was a chance to help guide an organization that does work that I’m proud of each and every day. We don’t always take the most popular views at NCLR. We don’t always take the easy road. And there are always stumbles. But I can’t imagine being on this journey for LGBTQ rights with anyone but NCLR.
From Kate and Shannon, to every member of the staff, this organization is full of leaders who aren’t afraid to do what’s right. As I stood on stage at this year’s gala and held back tears while presenting the Courage Award to Ryan Kendall and Sam Brinton, the totality of my experience with NCLR and the emotions that this brought all came to the surface. Here I was, with two young people who were around the same age as I was when I first came to NCLR. They had experienced horrors no one should have to endure. And yet there they were: Beautiful. Smiling. Courageous. This is what NCLR is all about. Helping those others sought to silence to speak. Helping those from every single geographic region in this country find a place and give back. Changing lives. Making change.
As the LGBTQ movement continues to achieve victory after victory, at NCLR we know the work isn’t done. We have the leaders to be on the frontlines of this movement. We have the visionaries to determine what’s next and take this work to the next level. I will always be involved with NCLR. I will always give as much of my nonprofit salary as I can to NCLR. I will always encourage others to give.
As we continue to build towards the future, I know that whether it’s in D.C., San Francisco, or even my hometown in Nebraska, we’ll be there. I hope we never lose, but I know that those in power aren’t always ready to be on the right side of history when NCLR first meets them. That’s okay. We’ll keep fighting. We’ll keep working. We’ll keep helping. And one day, there will be full equality for all LGBTQ people. I cannot imagine supporting another LGBTQ organization like I support NCLR. This organization that took a homesick Nebraskan Stanford first year law student and helped me grow to become the co-chair of our board. NCLR is my family. Family supports one another. NCLR has always supported me. This year, I hope you join me in supporting my family, NCLR.