Once upon some Colorado summers ago, my brother Kevin was dating Matty, and the two held the highest aspirations of bringing love and change to the world.
Matty lost his best friend to the 1999 Columbine massacre while a freshman at the high school. Instead of hitting a downward spiral as a grieving teenager, he turned his energy toward public speaking and outreach. (His testimony appears in Dan Savage's 2011 book "It Gets Better.")
Kevin devoted endless hours as a Denver homeless advocate and was a frequent volunteer for Stand Up For Kids. He turned his talent of speaking out about political issues, sexual assault, rape culture and equality to songwriting.
The world wasn't always very nice, so they packed their activist hearts and belongings and moved to Kauai a decade ago.
Now married (they also hold the first-ever civil union on the island), they've taken strongly to the Hawaiian culture of 'ohana. 'Ohana is a concept that emphasizes the strength of a family bond (blood and beyond) with a strong commitment to love and care for one another, true to the aloha spirit.
Kevin and Matty will hit pause on life if any member of their 'ohana hits a rough patch. They'd fly directly to a loved one on the drop of $10,000 dimes to be by their side (Denver to Hawaii fares — holy 'aumakua, Bat homies). Their circle of Hawaiian friends embrace as 'ohana, and the pair welcomes strangers with open minds.
When they first moved to Kauai, they encountered some discrimination but soon combatted the hate by "earning" the love of locals by being themselves. My brother-in-law is an LGBTQ services specialist on the island, where he educates and advocates for equal rights while offering outreach to the lost or troubled. My brother impresses his vast knowledge and love for Mother Earth's flora paradise with his work at the botanical gardens. He spreads his songs of change as the vocalist and a guitarist for his surf-punk band.
My brothers leave a tall mark on the world. I'm so proud of them. They utilize positivity and education to impart words of change to society.
And they're no different than me.
This 'ohana is an ethos that this world should benefit from.
Sure, there's been progress for the LGBT community in the past decade, but when we have tragedies like the Orlando massacre, we realize the world isn't quite where it should be.
Let's follow my brothers' selfless examples. Let's continue to pave the path to equality with kindness and compassion. Let's all look out for one another. We're all on the same team. We're all 'ohana.
Now everybody go fucking hug each other, damn it.
Christy Fantz: twitter.com/fantzypants