LETTER: It’s Pride Month. Stand up, be loud, and bravely be yourselves.

By Karsten Vagner, RTM member representing District 3, the opinion below is mine alone

Three days after my husband and I became dads, we were sitting with our newborn daughter in the waiting room of her pediatrician’s office for her first checkup. It was crowded with other new families that morning, all of us doting on our little ones. From the far corner of the room, a woman approached us. She pointed to our baby girl and asked point blank, “Are you both her parents? Are you gay?” 

This was our third day of parenthood. We were exhausted and had no idea where this stranger was going. I stood up. “Yes. We’re her parents. And yes, we’re gay.”

She pointed back and forth between my husband and me. “I used to think this was wrong. I didn’t think gays should be parents, I thought it was bad. But I’ve been watching you both. I like this now, I think it’s good. You changed my mind.” And with that, she returned to her family.

Six and a half years later, I think about this encounter often. Standing there in the waiting room, I wondered if our future would always include people sharing their opinions on our existence – wherever, whenever, and whether we asked for them or not. But then I sat down, looked at my husband and daughter, and realized the lesson that has stayed with me: our two-dad family has power. With our presence alone, we changed someone’s beliefs about not just us, but the entire LGBTQ+ community. All she needed was to look at us.

To my LGBTQ+ neighbors, as Pride month begins today, I hope you remember how much power you have. Across the country our community is under attack. Hiding out, keeping quiet, and trying to fit in may feel like the most natural response in this climate. But I’m asking you to stand up, be loud, and bravely be yourselves in every room you step into. Our voices – our very presence – can change hearts and minds.

To my neighbors who are LGBTQ+ allies, I hope you remember your unique power. When others try to chip away at the dignity of this community or think they can opt out of a world in which we exist, your voices have weight. In your daily conversations, in your schools, in your clubs, and in the voting booth, we count on your presence and your support.

This Sunday we’ll be celebrating Greenwich Pride at Town Hall at 1pm. The Greenwich LGBTQ+ community is strong and diverse – we are doctors and lawyers, teachers and first responders, parents and students, and so much more. I’m proud to be a part of this community, and I’m proud to live in a town with so many LGBTQ+ allies and supporters. I hope to celebrate with you all this Sunday afternoon. Now more than ever, visibility matters.