Eight years ago, I was a senior in high school. In the public eye, I was living the life; class president, homecoming king and accepted to a great university after high school. However, internally I was battling severe depression and isolation because of my sexual orientation.
My life was a façade of happiness; no one would ever suspect what was really going on in my life, not even my family and close friends. I’ve never told them how I thought I would never find my place in the world or how I thought the world would be better off without me. I felt lost, alone and utterly hopeless.
Then a message came though. It was a simple, but profound message: Hope.
This message didn’t bring on an instantaneous feeling of relief for me; it was more of a small nugget of light in an otherwise dark world.
But slowly, my dark world grew brighter and brighter under the tutelage of President Obama. Ostracized and marginalized communities like mine were pushed into the public eye and, slowly but surely, the hope that was promised to us became a reality.
I went from a terrified, closeted individual to a passionate advocate who has been lucky enough to speak on a national level for the rights of the LGBTQ community. I’ve been confident and secure enough to make sure my voice is heard and that my community is validated and recognized.
I do not think any of this would have happened without President Obama.
Hope is a simple message, but one that changed my life.
There is a profound difference in executive leadership that encourages diversity, acceptance and cooperation as opposed to division, exclusivity and discrimination.
I feel incredibly blessed to have been a young adult during President Obama’s administration; my life would be unfathomably different had I not had that message of hope to encourage me these past eight years.
He has given me the inspiration to fight for my rights in the coming years; for both myself and the rest of my community. He has given me the validation that I am a person just as equal as any American citizen. He has made me feel heard, respected and equal. He has given me the confidence to bring about change on my own and to face adversity with class and dignity.
He did what a President was supposed to do: he encouraged me to be my best self, to make sure my voice was heard and to make sure I challenged the bonds that were restricting my community. He gave me hope that my life could be great and worth living, and for that I am eternally grateful.
So all I have to say is thanks Obama. I am 100% sure I would not be the person I am today without your Presidency. I thank you and your family for a truly amazing eight years; the hope you’ve given me and others like me will not fade once your term ends.