Chelsea was thrilled to be asked to speak to the Toyota employees during their Gay Pride Month. She was expecting just a few people, but as the room filled up to over a hundred participants her anticipation grew. She had no worries…the crowd was warm, interested and enthusiastic. Chelsea felt happy to give everyone at Toyota a look into her incredible life and felt the love and support of everyone there.
The following is an article that was written about Chelsea’s speech at Toyota that was published in the employees magazine:
Toyota Driver’s Seat Article – June 2010
Author: C. Lassos
GALA Hosts Inspiring Pride Month Speaker
Chelsea Montgomery-Duban’s two dads motivate her to speak out about alternative families and equal rights.
Chelsea Montgomery-Duban is a vibrant, confident 16-year-old who is taking a bold, public stand for something she passionately believes. That is, the equal rights of her two fathers to be a married couple.
Her experience as the daughter of two dads who deeply love each other is a story she loves to tell.
She says she noticed she didn’t have a mother sometime before she was six years old but didn’t really give it much thought. “It’s funny; that was just the norm for me,” she explains. “I knew it was different than most other families but it didn’t really faze me.”
During Pride Month in June, Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) employees had the pleasure of hearing Montgomery-Duban share her belief that everyone should be equal, and describe her burgeoning work as a human rights activist. “I believe there will be equality for all one day, and I hope that my story inspires people to fight even harder,” says Montgomery-Dub an. And, to the naysayers she replies, “No one will take the wind out of my sails.”
Her invitation to speak at TMS was extended by the Gay and Lesbian (Bisexual Transgender & Friends) Alliance at Toyota (GALA). Lexus is a national corporate partner of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and several GALA members heard Montgomery-Duban speak at an HRC event and thought she would be the perfect guest speaker at TMS for pride month.
During her speech, she told the story about how her two dads met on a blind date some 28 years ago. “Both agree it was love at first sight,” she said. Kevin Montgomery is a stay-at-home dad, and Dennis Duban is a CPA. When they started talking about having a child together, they didn’t know any other gay couple who had children. Montgomery’s sperm and Duban’s sister’s egg were used to conceive their daughter. Montgomery’s cousin agreed to be their surrogate and carried the baby to term.
An inspiring, poised, and wise-beyond-her-years teenager, Montgomery-Duban gained attention last year when she posted a video of her dads’ 2008 wedding on You Tube as a way to share a glimpse of an alternative family, and to show the immense love she and her parents share. After 26 years together, they married at their daughter’s request when gay marriage was legalized for a brief window in California before the passage of Proposition 8.
“I knew our marriage was important to Chelsea, but when she was giving the speech [at our wedding] and breaking down, that’s when I realized in my heart that it was wrong that she should have to make such a stand for something that everyone else takes for granted,” explained Duban in an article published in the Miami Herald.
In the video, she gives a speech during the wedding through laughter and tears that didn’t leave a dry eye in the house. “According to me, marriage is not just a man and a woman . . . It is a bond between two people that love each other so much that their hearts are bursting with joy and love and compassion for each other and no one can tell them that they shouldn’t belong together or that they shouldn’t love each other.” To date, the You Tube video has received more than 28,000 views.
The attention on You Tube also led to the fulfillment of another one of her dreams—to speak at an HRC dinner, which she was invited to do in 2009. From the age of 9, she has attended many HRC events accompanied by her two dads.
Montgomery-Duban exudes confidence, knows exactly who she is, and fights for what is important to her. She views her life as “ordinary,” albeit blessed, and for that reason believes in giving back to her community. She is passionate about several causes, in addition to gay rights, and helps with fund raising. An avid dancer, singer and actor, she will be applying to universities later this year and wants to study performing arts. When asked about her career aspirations, she exuberantly replies “I want to perform on the Broadway stage.”
However, if Broadway isn’t in the cards, she wants to continue being an activist. “It’s not about money,” she said. “I want to do something meaningful and be passionate about what I do.”
One TMS associate admits he attended the presentation with an ulterior motive. Upon hearing about the guest speaker, his first thought was, “Why are these guys parading their daughter around as a spectacle? I went into the presentation with preconceived, negative ideas that turned out to be completely incorrect,” he explained. “After I heard Chelsea speak, I was really impressed with her and her presentation, as well as with her dads and the good job they have done raising her. I walked out with a positive viewpoint.”
In appreciation of Montgomery-Duban’s visit to TMS, GALA made a donation to the HRC on her behalf.
To view excerpts of Montgomery-Duban’s speech at TMS on You Tube, go to: http://www.youtube.com/user/lilchelsinthebu.
Associates interested in GALA or any other Toyota Business Partnering Group (TBPG) may contact Gail Herring at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.