It Can Take Courage to be True to Yourself

In our next guest post from the amazing people we’re meeting on our Channel Kindness Tour, hear from Evan Low, a California Assembly member (D-Silicon Valley) and Chair of the California Legislative Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Caucus, on the courage it can take to be true to yourself.

Growing up as a young, gay, 4th generation Chinese American, I rarely saw people like me on television, in elected office or in positions of power. I mean, other than George Takei, how many gay Asians do you know?

It can be alienating and lonely when so few people in the mainstream culture look like you. It’s hard to come out and proud when few have broken ground before you. That may be why I felt shame growing up and only my closest friends knew I was gay. It wasn’t until a news article outed me that my sexual orientation became public knowledge.

I’m glad it did. Now, as the Chair of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus, I advocate for LGBT Californians and work to mentor future LGBT leaders. This year, we created the first state capitol LGBT staff association—a safe place for staff to network, mentor one another, and develop skills for their career. Veteran LGBT staff have shared with me that they never imagined such a thing would be possible.

I’m also working to bolster youth civic engagement because I believe habits like voting and volunteering start early. I authored a bill this year to create a high school service learning curriculum to teach young people about the values of community service, which research has shown builds confidence and fosters civic responsibility. Just imagine the value of an entire generation dedicated to volunteering in their communities and helping those less fortunate.

I feel strongly that we have to find ways to help one another succeed and empower the next generation to be brave, confident, and kind. It is a goal I share with Born this Way Foundation. The Foundation is working to achieve this through improved mental health resources and kinder communities both on and offline. In support of this work, I recently presented Born This Way Foundation with a California State Resolution commending its outstanding contributions to the wellness and empowerment of young people.

I believe that every individual deserves to have the basic freedom to be who they want to be and that it is important to empower marginalized groups to participate in government, education, entertainment, and sports because it gives children and young adults someone to look up to. It is crucial for young people to have powerful figures that look, talk, and act like them because it gives them a sense of belonging and acceptance. Together we can help the next generation to be brave, kind, and true to themselves. It starts with us.