Sarah McBride: Living Out Loud

One of the unexpected upsides of living in Wilmington, Delaware, is its population. 

There are as many humans in the entire state, as there are in just Midtown, the Upper East and West Sides of Manhattan. There were half as many apartment units in my building on 71st Street, as there are houses in my entire neighborhood here. 

And, ends up, this neighborhood is kind of star studded. President Biden lives just over the hill. Senator Chris Coons lives right across the street. And I see Mayor Mike Przycki walking in nearby Rockford Park all the time.

But the neighbor I was most excited to meet, and have been so grateful to share meaningful time with, is Delaware State Senator Sarah McBride.

Sarah was born and raised here in the Highlands neighborhood, just two blocks from our brick colonial. She attended American University where she made national headlines when, at the end of her term as student body president, she came out publicly as transgender in the student newspaper.

Sarah interned in the White House, before returning to Delaware to help pass a landmark non-discrimination laws. She authored the deeply moving and inspiring 2018 memoir, “Tomorrow Will Be Different.” And in 2020, became the first openly transgender state senator in the history of the United States.

Sarah’s also one of the judges at the neighborhood’s Halloween Parade (where, it should be mentioned, she awarded The Wagners the “Most Creative Family” trophy), and she’s the highlight of every Highlands Community Association annual meeting.

More than once, I’ve thanked Sarah for being a role model for my daughters. But – and, she probably knows this – I’m really thanking her for being a role model for me.

I’ve spent my life trying to calibrate true north, and march in that direction. I’ve tried to live my values, to show up and listen. But, for all that I have shared in dozens of songs, countless blog posts – even a movie – I have breasted some cards: The Moon, The Tower, The Nine of Swords. 

Sometimes, fear, anxiety and sadness overwhelm me, and I play small and quiet. 

Sarah reminds – no she challenges me – to live out loud. No, not amplifiers or distortion pedals, not gold lamé or lime green. Authenticity. Vulnerability. Integrity.

“When we allow people to take that insecurity, fear or secret, and to live it authentically,” she says, “It gives permission for people with totally different secrets and insecurities, to live openly and authentically themselves.” 

When we own and share our most potent insecurities or our deepest secrets, when we reveal our very humanity – the things that move us, inspire us, scare us, worry us – we feel less alone and more connected. And we light the way for each other.

As Fred Rogers reminds us all, “The greatest gift you ever give is your honest self.”

In giving her authentic self, Sarah gives me — and all of us — the courage to do the same.

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