Campaign rallies can often stir up strong emotions. For college student Ally Maldonado, attending Senator Kamala Harris's presidential campaign kickoff rally in Oakland in January inspired her to make a life-changing decision. "We must all speak truth about what is happening," Sen. Harris said. "We must seek truth, speak truth, and fight for the truth. Let's speak some truth." It was these words that inspired Maldonado to come out to her parents after the rally.
"As a Mexican-American queer woman, this is it. [Harris] is it for me," Maldonado told POPSUGAR via email.
In the video, produced by Sen. Harris's presidential campaign, Maldonado reflects on the moment that sparked her to action. "So when she says, 'Let's speak the truth,' it's like, 'Okay, let me speak my own truth,' because part of it wasn't there. I have to be honest with myself first. So I came home and I talked to my mom about it. . . . She had a really good reaction — better than what I'd anticipated. I just needed that extra tug."
Following her eye-opening experience at the rally, Maldonado got the chance to meet Sen. Harris. The student wore a Kamala Harris Fearless Shirt for the occasion, and Sen. Harris had some wise words to share with her young supporter. "I'm proud of your strength; I'm proud of your courage; and I'm proud of your leadership," she said. "You have to remember something: Real leaders don't ask anybody if they can lead. They just lead, and that's what you've done. Never ask anyone permission to lead."
Sen. Harris's words have stuck with Maldonado since their meeting and have inspired her to become a leader for herself and for those around her. "Kamala has inspired me to get involved since the beginning — from being in Oakland in January to meeting her in LA in May," Maldonado said. "The words she said to me just further fulfill the idea that the fight is continuous and there are no barriers. I plan to step into this newfound freedom with open ears and an open mind, ready to learn and fully engulf myself in this community that has shown me nothing but love. And maybe then, just maybe, I can lead, too."
Maldonado is currently studying Public Relations at Cal State Fullerton. As for her plans now that Pride Month is right around the corner? "This pride marks the first year of complete liberation," she said. "I'll be celebrating my first pride with friends and attending LA Pride, and hopefully, San Francisco pride to see Kamala on the float." Cheers to speaking your truth, Ally!