A gay couple's pride flag helped give a young teen the courage to come out to their family.

One of the questions that LGBT people get most often during Pride month is why we need to be so visible all the time — especially in June, when you can't turn a corner without running into a rainbow-themed display at Target. While there are many reasons — check some out right here — one of the biggest reasons visibility is important is that it's letting future generations know that it's okay to be who you are. That there will always be people who support you.

In Round Rock, Texas, that visibility helped change the trajectory of one person's life. And it all has to do with the rainbow flag a couple flies outside their home every day.

Sal Stow, who lives at the home in question with her partner, Meghan Stabler, was just out picking up the mail when she noticed that there was a handwritten note held down by a rock among the letters and packages. She didn't know what to expect — sometimes those things are just pizza delivery menus — but when she took a closer look, the sentiment brought her near tears.

"Hello, you don't know me," the note began. "We've moving away today, but I wanted to thank you. Seeing a Pride flag waving so proudly outside your house every day has given me the courage to come out to my family and be comfortable with who I am." The note-writer had also drawn a self-portrait. In it, they look healthy and content while waving the transgender and pansexual pride flags.

On Twitter and Facebook, the note's been shared thousands of times.


The message here is crystal clear: When we're open about who we are and live our lives free of fear and shame (to the extent which society allows), we're also inspiring others to live out loud. And for those who are struggling with being open about their sexual orientation or gender identity, the tiniest symbols of love and acceptance are a reminder that the world can be a good, supportive place. Sometimes, no words need to be exchanged.

Sure, many of us yearn for a world in which no one has to come out because it's no longer frightening or dangerous, but while Americans have made great strides forward in furthering LGBT+ rights, coming out is anxiety-provoking. Especially when the threats of family rejection and homelessness are still all too real. For many teens, there's a fear that their friends and families will turn on them due to their sexual orientation — even if their loved ones endorsed support for the LGBT+ community before.

In a town like Round Rock, where, Stow writes, the residents are primarily conservative and the local government unanimously struck down a motion to fly a Pride flag at the courthouse, this type of visibility has even more of an impact.

"I am proud of who I am and the person I love. I will continue to be visible in whatever way I can," Stow vowed on Facebook. Maybe it's time we all picked up a rainbow flag to hang near our doors to show pride in ourselves and be an ally for others? Just an idea!

Inclusivity

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

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