Thank you, first and foremost. Never again will a person of your charm, warmth, and intelligence grace the White House (unless of course, Michelle decides to run, unlikely I know). Also, I’m sorry. I’m sorry you have to see your amazing work to help the people of this country be soiled by the election of Donald J. Trump. I admire your respect for the highest office in the land, and how you are handling the peaceful transition of power. Hopefully your guidance will have influenced him to make less horrible choices once in the Oval Office. But I’m not here to talk about Trump.
I’m here to discuss your legacy. You’ve inspired millions, and achieved many great things throughout your presidency. But, you’ve personally inspired me to be an outspoken voice in a world where a woman’s voice is often spoken over. I grew up in a small town in Colorado. Now, yes, Colorado did legalize marijuana first, but this place isn’t some hippie paradise all the time. We have lots of good ol’ boys out here, between the blue collar guy who votes against his best interest, to the white collar guy who owns land or resorts and likes the right wing’s corporate tax rates. We are heavily a battleground state. So, go figure, I ended up with two parents with very opposite ideals.
My mother was a Colo and Cali girl. Lived with her sister and her mom her whole life. Partied HARD. My father was born in Georgia, raised in Florida. Had a religious mother, and was one of four brothers. Also, partied hard while basically being James Taylor. The difference was, my father became a televangelist loving right wing Christian, and my mother became a moderate liberal. They’re wonderful people still, and together after all this time, I don’t know how they do it. But they struggled over what to teach me as a child because of this conflict.
For example, my dad always took me to church as a kid. He taught me that I was a child of god, and one day I’d have kids of my own, and that Ronald Reagan was the best. And my mom, a few years later, would tell me about her cousin, who died from AIDS during the 80’s when Ronald Reagan as it turns out, was not the best, or at the very least, not the best at talking about AIDS. But my dad thought being gay was a sin, and he made sure to sneak it in there once in a while, I think he knew all along that I liked women. And when that finally came out, it was hard for him to handle. He still loved me, and he’d never disown me or kick me out. But he struggled with that fact for a long time. My mother reassured me right away that she’d love me no matter what, but that I should wait a little longer and see if I still felt that way. Of course I did.
I came out as bisexual around 8th Grade. You had been President for a year. Up until the year before, I had been a little middle school girl version of my father. Repeating things he said to me in history or at lunch. Nothing sinister, just…I wasn’t being true to myself.Although my dad and I disagree on most things now, he gave me that vigor to speak your mind, and to continue learning. After doing my own research about politics and science shortly after you were elected, I discovered the part of myself that has led me where I am today. I am a 21 year old, bisexual female, proud intersectional feminist. I watched you say how you would defend the rights of women. And you did. I watched as you said you would protect people of color. You did. You fought for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community and we thank you for it. The environment, the auto industry, the native americans, the veterans, the immigrants and their children, the muslims, the medical industry, the 9/11 families, the world thanks you for it.
Of course, there were bumps along the way and disagreements on how to accomplish some of these goals, and beyond that was a level of obstruction and partisanship against you that felt unparalleled to many of your predecessors. And though far and few between, there were times where even I disagreed with you. But you never ceased to amaze me. I never lost respect for you, even in those times, because I knew you’d make the right choices for our country.
I recently watched the Netflix biopic “Barry”, about you, and without being political hardly at all, you (and/or your character, at least) made me feel proud of being American, which is strange because I’ve been struggling with my patriotism for a while. (By the way, would love to know what you thought of it?) But the truth is, most Americans are good people, and I cannot let you and the legacy we’ve created with you die. I will fight for the next 4 years and for the rest of my life, to continue the great work you’ve done. Just like you said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
I’m so proud to have grown up in Obama’s America. Thank you for giving me that.