My name is Chelsea Austin Montgomery-Duban and I am an 18 year-old living in Southern California with my two Dads. I am genetically linked to both of my parents—through my Dad and my Daddy's sister. When my parents decided to have me this kind of genetic linkage was extremely rare, as was a gay couple raising a kid. Eighteen years later, you would think that peoples' mindsets towards gay families would have changed, but sadly many people still don't seem to understand that my family is like every other family. The fact that my parents are gay has not affected my upbringing in any way. I work hard in school, I pursue many extracurricular activities and I am extraordinarily driven.
So why can't people see that my parents are just as capable, loving and inspirational as any straight parents? I adore my Dads. They are my best friends and role models and there isn't anything I wouldn't do for them. It's because of them that I live the most amazing and blessed life. The three of us have an incredible time together and I can't imagine having been raised by anyone else. It also makes me think that people who don't understand my family are obviously ignorant and misguided, at the very least—I mean it's nearly impossible not to see the love that each of us has for one another. These are the reasons I'm so passionate about achieving equal rights for every member of our great nation. I don't see how we are any less than any one else, but I know for a fact that our family has shared more love and happiness with the world and each other than most families do in a lifetime.
For a long time we merely tried to live by example but after Proposition 8 passed in California, making same sex marriage illegal, I realized that being an example was just not enough and that I needed to take action. I needed to stand up for the people that gave me life, unconditional love and paved the way for me to live a fantastic life. That's why in 2008 when they got married after being together for 26 years (now 29 years) I posted the video of my speech at their wedding on YouTube.
If people weren't going to realize that my family is just like every other family I was going to have to broadcast it on a larger scale and that's what YouTube gave me the opportunity to do. It also made my family extremely vulnerable and made it very easy for people to attack us personally—but it only made me stronger and want to work harder for the cause.
My parents raised me to be a self-sufficient, strong, generous, loving and grateful human being and I cannot see anything that they have done by raising me that could possibly be a detriment to society. After posting my video on YouTube I started going around the country speaking for the Human Rights Campaign, PFLAG (Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays) and I even got the chance to represent my family in front of Toyota's employees for their Gay Pride Month.
Getting the opportunity to speak out about my family has been incredible. I love sharing our story and getting the chance to show people that my family is worthy of every right that other families have without question. Soon everyone will realize that life is just not as fun, loving or exciting when you look at it through small-minded eyes. The more people can open their hearts and minds the sooner they'll realize it's better to share love and acceptance than to hate.
I had the great foutune to be introduced to one of the founders of the NOH8 campaign, Adam Bouska, when I was honored to be featured alongside him in a Frontiers Magazine article, "The Top 10 LGBT Activists in the Los Angeles Area." I was truly inspired by Adam and his partner Jeff Parshley and their commitment to raising awareness through their innovative and remarkable photographic campaign. The NOH8 Campaign is doing incredible things to spur on this movement for the LGBT community. They are finding a way to speak out that is more powerful than words. People cannot argue with a photograph, and it's said that a picture is worth 1,000 words; but NOH8 photos do so much more—they show gay, straight, transgender and bisexual people as well as families coming together to promote love and acceptance. Anyone is welcome to a have a picture taken and every single person that does is making a huge statement that it's all about love, not hate. That's why I'm proud to support the work of The NOH8 Campaign and encourage everyone to join with me in their fight for equality!! I am honored to know Adam and Jeff and their inspirational work through NOH8, but mostly I'm grateful to call them friends.