SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — LGBTQ activist Kate Kendell still remembers the fear that gripped her body and mind when she decided to come out to her mother.

“One of the things I think is so powerful about queer people is our coming out stories. We have to come out in order for people to know who we are and to live our truth,” the leader of the National Center of Lesbian Rights said.

And then she returned to the moment her life changed.

“I was scared to death when I came out to my mom. I was raised Mormon in Utah. My mother was a devout Mormon right up to the day she died,” Kendell said. “When I decided to tell her when I was 21 I was afraid she would say to me — ‘I’m so disappointed.’ But she didn’t do that. When I told my mom through tears, she reach over and took my hand and said ‘Oh honey, the most important thing to me is that you are happy.'”

“Everything that has happened in my life since, everything I’ve been able to accomplish, everything I have been able to dream for myself is tied back to that moment.”

Kendell’s organization fights for the civil and human rights of LGBTQ people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

She was a key figure in the recent victory for workplace equality by laying the groundwork for many years. Her role was instrumental in winning same-sex marriage nationally in 2015. She has been a tireless advocate in the fight to banish conversion therapy, legalize same-sex adoption and parenting, erase homophobia in sports and create immigration policy.

In 2019 Kendell became Co-Legal Director for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Video profile of Kate Kendall was produced by Robin Lowey, as part of her project Lesbian Game Changers: Lesbians You Should Know About”

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