"With help from a few amazing kids, I’ve grown to accept myself and live a full and genuine life. I am Proud Auntie Anne.

Beth and I moved to Minnesota 8 years ago, where I grew up. I was nervous about living an out life and what that might mean with my friends and family back home. My brother and sister-in-law ran the Big Gay Race with me, which raised funds to fight for same sex-marriage. My niece, Annika who was 3 years old, kept calling it the “Big Gaytorade Race” and was so excited to be there with me. She told everyone about it. I’ve been especially touched by Annika’s never-ending acceptance of us.

Two years later the family was out to eat, celebrating our recent engagement. Everyone was excited, but there was a cloud of uneasiness that hung over us as we figured out how to talk about a wedding for two women. In comes Annika, “Just wait, pretty soon a baby will be growing in your tummy!” And just like that, a 5-year old cleared the tension.

Annika took it upon herself to design my wedding dress, making her mom send me pictures of her drawings often. When we went shopping, Annika was right there the whole time, “Well, I like it, but don’t you want more flowers?” We’ve never had similar taste, but our love and support of each other has stayed strong.

Annika’s ability to bring our family together, cut through awkwardness, and have nothing but excitement for our relationship makes me a proud aunt and more confident in myself. I’m proud to say that I’ve come a long way in accepting myself, living my life authentically, and showing my absolute pride for the love I have for my wonderful wife. I’m proud of the life we share, the home we own, the dog we love, and the family near and far who have supported us throughout.

I’m proud Auntie Anne. I’m proud to have nieces and nephews who look up to me, laugh with me, and who love me so much. I’m proud to show them the unconditional love they have given me, and to help them grow and learn in a safe and encouraging environment."