I’ve never considered myself an activist. But I have always fought for others in one way or another. As a straight, white male, I understand the privilege associated with simply being born this way. And I judge people not by how they treat me, but how they treat others. I’ve always felt a responsibility to be an ally to those around me. I lend my voice, my time and my checkbook, generally in that order.

I grew up in a small town. A very small one. High School graduating class of 52. And as much as I tried to fit in on the outside, playing sports, student government, speech, on the inside I felt like an outcast, like I didn’t belong. So I fled. First to New York, then to LA. And as I began to punch bubbles in my homogeneous upbringing, I saw the world and all its brilliant diversity. Much like a fundamental Christian experiences being “born again” through the spirit, I had an equally spiritual experience through a new mindset. And I never looked back.

I learned you don’t need to understand why someone wants/needs/loves something, simply that they do. And accept that in the same way you accept your own wants/loves/needs. In doing so, you will not only contribute to the happiness of the person, but also to your own.

I cannot explain why same-sex couples are attracted to each other. I cannot open your eyes to why a man would want to become a women, or vice-versa. Or how someone born into the sex of one body can feel trapped. Because, unless you are that person, it’s impossible to truly know, and truly understand.

And all that’s ok.

Since some people can’t process it any way other than through their own worldview, it is questioned and judged. But that is grossly overcomplicating things: To be truly happy, you just need to accept people without judgement. It’s really that simple. You have your path, others have their own.

Yet, like many, I have been in situations in my life when I know what it feels like to want something. What it feels like to need something. Maybe something that no one else understands. And to keep it close, so that no one judges you. We all have parts inside us which are truly personal whether is about family, personal misgivings or simply fringe things that make us scared or happy.

Take a step back from your life, a big one, and think about this. Why would someone subject themselves to bigotry, hatred, financial burden and lost family relationships to transition between sexes? Or to love someone many still think they shouldn’t? Do you think they are blind to those consequences, or even welcome that criticism? Of course not.

But who we are will always inform what we do. If you are born in the wrong body, making the change is hard. But it is harder to not do it.

And that is the crux of life. No matter who you love, how you love it, we all simply want the same thing — happiness. People need to follow their own happiness. They cannot let others define that. If everyone is pointing right, it doesn’t mean we all need to take that path. Some will go left, and that may be a harder journey. But it is the only one that can eventually lead to happiness.

It’s the only road that allows people to be who they are.

I have raised my kids in a way that makes me proud. They don’t blink when we meet with same-sex married friends for dinner. I proudly go to gay bars with my wife and our gay friends during pride week. To me, it’s just a bar. To them, marriage is just love. And that’s how things really should be.

Those of us who support friends and family in the LGBTQ+ community know how difficult this administration has been to them. How it has opened up doors to bigotry, homophobia, and xenophobia. They are caught in a wider trap.

And we can’t wait for this administration to crumble to expect equality or happiness. The tone that is set today will not immediately leave us. The genie is out of the bottle, and it will be hard to get back in. We must march for equality and continue to fight from every vantage point with our voices, our hearts, our actions.

And in 2020 with our vote.🌈

Co-Founder Cast Iron LA agency. Webby Judge. Satirist. Contributor to FastToCreate, AdWeek, HuffPo, Digiday and others. I fight fire with humor. www.castiron.la