One of Ohio’s 15th district congressional candidates, Rick Neal, says he appreciates the opportunity this country has given him and his family.

“Democracy worked for me and my family and now I just want to make it work for everybody,” said Neal.

Neal is Ohio’s first openly gay person to run for United States Congress.

Neal reflected on how just a few years ago, he and his husband, Tom, were not allowed to get married. He talked about a time when he couldn’t be the legal father to their two daughters.

He said that has all changed, thanks to America’s democracy. Now, he’s a husband and a father, but he said the decision to run for federal office still wasn’t an easy one to make.

“Sure, we thought about it,” Neal said. “I had a long discussion with my husband Tom and our girls and our extended family to talk about it, but you know what, we felt what people really wanted in this district was a fighter.”

As he and his family walked in the Stonewall Columbus Pride parade, he said all he could think about were the decades of fighting for the LGBTQ community and his appreciation for everything Pride weekend stands for here in Ohio.

“Showing their support, they’re showing their openness, that is the Columbus way,” Neal said. “Everybody coming together, supporting each other. I felt that a lot this year. I thought it was fantastic.”

Neal said the community support was very visible to him during this year’s Pride parade.

“I’m always very proud to be able to get out there and to feel that support. Come on, it makes me feel awesome,” he said.

Neal also traveled around Ohio to different Pride celebrations this year and is overjoyed to see how inclusive Ohio has become.