by Brian Moniz
Saturday, September 28th will be a day I will never forget for the rest of my life — the day I met Kamala Harris.
Whoever said “Never meet your heroes” obviously never met Kamala Harris. Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a never-ending, unconditional love for my California Senator, and I’m not shy about showing it. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg…they’re all great people whom I also have tremendous love and respect for, but Kamala is the one who I have personally witnessed for years fight tooth-and-nail for every LGBTQ person’s rights in California. She was the one who helped push me out of the closet years ago when I saw her in the newspapers and on television fighting Prop 8 — which banned same-sex marriage in California — and called clerks all over the state ordering them to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples without prejudice or exception. She led the rest of the country by example that America is evolving and will move forward and progress whether or not homophobes want to change their views and join the right side of history.
As I arrived at August Hall in San Francisco for the “Kamala Harris For the People” fundraiser, I was instantly surprised with joy to see, an hour-and-a-half before the event, a long line wrapping around the block to enter the venue. This allowed me plenty of time to befriend and chat with fellow supporters in line and hear their reasons for supporting Senator Harris. Aside from her political policies on gun-control, closing the gender wage-gap, and lowering drug costs, countless supporters expressed their appreciation for Kamala’s history of support for the gay community, especially in San Francisco where so many LGBT icons have left their mark. It was so wonderful to see the gay community show up in droves to support her, showing me that I’m not the only one she had impacted.
The doors opened up and about forty of us with photo passes were let in upstairs to a private bar to mingle a few more minutes before Kamala arrived for our photo opportunities. As the other supporters loosened up with cocktails, my own anticipation began to build inside. I raced through my mind of what I wanted to say to her, knowing I probably have maybe 45 seconds or less when I meet her; there was only one thing I knew in my heart that I had to tell her.
Kamala Harris walked into the room with her signature 1000-kilowatt smile and very high energy, shouting “Hey people!” The room cheered and everyone began to line up for their photos. With each person moving forward ahead of me, I felt my heart beating to the rhythm of the Jaws theme music, getting louder and faster with every single person ahead of me finishing their turn. Finally, I was next, and my heart was beating so fast I could literally feel my necklace under my shirt bouncing against my chest. The supporter in front of me finished her moment with Kamala and the volunteer facilitating the line told me to step forward.
Kamala greeted me with that big, bright smile of hers and I shook her hand and said, “Hi Kamala, it’s such a pleasure to meet you. I’m Brian.” She thanked me for coming out and we posed for our pictures with the photographer. After we finished, I turned to her and asked if I could just tell her one thing. I held both of her hands with both of my hands and told her, holding back the tears I know are inevitable from what I’m about to say, “I will never forget all those years ago, seeing you fighting against Prop 8 on TV as our attorney general, ordering clerks across California to grant marriage licenses to gay people. You are one of the reasons I came out of the closet, you are the one who reminded me there are still good people in the world, and I will never be able to thank you enough for always fighting for the gays. I love you so much Kamala, and I appreciate everything you do for us.” She looked at me, truly touched at seeing how emotional I was in that moment. She thanked me and opened her arms to give me a big warm hug. One of her team members came up behind her and gently tapped her on the shoulder to tell her that we needed to wrap this up because there are more people after me. Kamala stepped away for a brief moment and said, “I’m having a really precious moment with one of my supporters, you need to wait just another minute.” I couldn’t help but turn bright red and smile from ear to ear, hearing that she was seeing this moment as important for me as I was. She came back and I said, “Can we take one more photo? Maybe we can stand back to back folding our arms like we are badasses?” Kamala laughed and said, “Sure!” We posed and the crowd noticed us both and cheered! In my last few seconds, I shook her hand goodbye and told her one more time, “Thank you again so much, and even if you don’t win the nomination, I know you will still always fight for us, and we will always fight for you, Kamala.” As I began to turn and walk away, she pulled me back, looked me in the eye, smiled, and with confidence and conviction said, “We’re gonna win, Brian!” to which I smiled, nodded my head and repeated back, “We’re gonna win!”
With so many hateful politicians and lawmakers in this country continuously coming up with bogus laws and policies designed to discriminate against the LGBTQ community, having someone like Kamala Harris on our side truly does feel like having a pitbull in our corner. A fearless, cunning, strong pitbull with endless stamina and platinum fangs for teeth, who doesn’t care if she has to take down another big dog or an entire pack of dogs, she will fight them all and she will win. Kamala Harris has always made it clear that gays will never be left out in her America, which is why I will circle her name on the primary ballot next year, and why she will always have a place in my heart.
If you ever read this, Kamala, I speak for so many gays in California and throughout America when I say we love you so much, we will never forget what you’ve already done for the community, and we will never stop fighting for you the way you have always fought for us. I wish you nothing but love and happiness the rest of your life and career, and best of luck in 2020! The world is a better place because you are in it.
*These opinions above are mine and mine alone, and in no way represent the Matthew Shepard Foundation in endorsing one Democratic Candidate over another. I speak for myself and am only sharing with readers my own personal experience.
About the Author:
Brian Moniz is from San Jose, Calif. He studied filmmaking and writing at San Jose State University from 2010–2013 and got his bachelor’s degree in Radio-TV-Film. Throughout his high school and college years, he worked as a music and movie journalist and critic. Having only recently come out of the closet himself in 2014, Brian enjoys writing about LGBTQ issues. His only regret when it comes to his sexuality is that he didn’t come out sooner.