Meet Tayo

News

Meet Tayo

This month we’re excited to highlight some amazing members of the LGBTQ community, who are proud to stand with Sherrod.

Learn more about Tayo (he/him/his) —a Sherrod supporter whose work focuses on diversity and inclusion in higher education—and about why this state, and this election, matter so much to him:

I moved to Columbus, Ohio when I was 21 years old and have been here ever since. Having come from a military family that moved every 2 – 3 years for most of my life, I never had a place that I called “home” until I made my way to Ohio. I came here for graduate study at Ohio State where I completed my MA and PhD in English, studying African American Literature. I was educated here. I bought my first home here. And with Tara, my partner of seven years, I started a family here.

And for me, Ohio allowed me to become who I am.

When I came to Ohio, a whole new world of possibilities opened for me. I am an African American transgender-identified partner, parent, and professional – I didn’t know that such a life was possible until I moved here. Like so many, I grew up living and learning in environments that didn’t make room for the diversity of gender expressions and sexual orientations. When I moved to Columbus, I met queer and transgender people living their lives in healthy ways. I was able to see role models for myself in a way I previously hadn’t. I didn’t know I could be a happy, out, transgender professional with a family until I got here. That’s what’s kept me here.

Now, I work in diversity and inclusion in higher education, focused on access, affordability, inclusivity, and providing a pathway to success for the young people of our state.

I’m also active in my community, because I want to create a better, more inclusive state for myself and my family. My partner is a queer, white, Jewish woman, and together we’re raising a mixed-race, Jewish daughter, so I’m constantly thinking of ways to ensure that our family—and families as diverse as ours—can thrive.

We’ve seen some really important progress right here in our state. Tara and I were legally married in Massachusetts in 2013, but at that time, the state of Ohio didn’t honor same-sex marriages. When the Supreme Court passed its same-sex marriage decision in 2015, we were in the hospital because Tara was in labor with our daughter. Before going to the hospital, we’d put together this patchwork of documentation—powers of attorney, wills, etc.—to make our relationship legible to hospital administration in the event of an emergency. We went in with all that documentation, and we came out with a legal marriage.

The legalization of same-sex marriage was so important for me, and for my family, but there are is much work to be done. There are still so many in our community who are suffering under the weight of compounded forms of oppression. In addition to discrimination facing the LGBTQ community, they face the additional burdens of xenophobia, racism, poverty, ableism, sexism, among other forms of oppression.

What affects one affects us all. In reality, when we consider going to the voting booth or whether or not to be active in our community, we can’t sit back and say, “Those issues aren’t my issues.” We have to cultivate empathy for those whose lived experiences have no resemblance to our own, and then transform that empathy into action, fighting injustice no matter what form it takes and regardless of whether we are in the group most severely impacted. 

We’re seeing U.S. legislation and policies that are emerging from fear have emerged from fear of the diversity of the United States. Now’s the time for us to use every tool at our disposal – our voice and our votes—to ensure that we’re electing officials who understand that our diversity is our strength.