Part of celebrating LGBT Pride Month in June is embracing who you are.
One man in our community who exemplified this is Sacramento’s first openly gay city councilmember — Steve Hansen.
If you attended this year's Sacramento Pride Festival earlier this month, you probably saw him front and center as the Grand Marshal of the parade.
“Having your own community recognize you is one of the most special things you can experience,” Hansen said of the recognition.
In his office, Hansen keep several of the awards he's received for his work on behalf of Sacramento's LGBT community. He takes great pride in being the first openly gay city councilmember, but it's not what defines him or his issues.
"Being LGBT wasn't the primary reason I ran, it's just who I am,” Hansen said. "My constituents, they're more worried about how responsive we are than whether I’m the first openly LGBT member of the council."
In the past five years, he's worked to improve the arts and make Sacramento more bike friendly. The area known as Lavender Heights falls within his district, and in 2015 he helped get the rainbow crosswalks on 20th and K streets.
But, being proud of his identity wasn't always easy. He came out in high school before getting an ROTC college scholarship.
"In the midst of my first year, I realized, because of ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ and some of those policies, I would have to make a very serious choice between being true to myself or hiding that part of myself in order to pursue a career,” Hansen recalled.
Ultimately, he decided to give up the scholarship in the ROTC program and went a different direction. Now, one of the things he's focusing on is improving protections for transgender people.
While he says there's more work to be done, his message is clear: be proud of who you are.
"Do what you think you need to do in order to live your life fully and to make the most difference,” Hansen said.
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