We began collecting
celebratory stories by family members of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and
transgendered people, to give greater voice to a population not often
heard over the shouts of anger, hatred, and bigotry. How often do we
hear about a mother's tender love for a daughter who has just announced,
"I like girls"? ("Mother's Day" by Laura Lamb).
Or about a grandfather who defends his grandson against the jeers of
peer Army veterans ("A Grandfather's First Pride Parade" by
Margaret DaRos). The voice of love is inherent in every one of these
We are both mothers
of gay sons. Our children have enriched our lives beyond measure. They
have introduced us to a vibrant, loving, and passionate community. Our
children (collectively speaking) have taken us to our first drag performance
as Rhea Murray delightfully describes in "Ms Razz-ma-tazz. They
have introduced us to Gay Pride Celebrations and shown us how to receive
more love than we ever knew possible ("I Met You at the Parade"
by Bonnie Sublett). They have even let us ride on the back of motorcycles
with Dykes on Bikes ("Passenger" by Shirley Powers).
also show us a quieter kind of love. In fact, most of these pieces describe
a love that we don't often see on the front page of newspapers. The
love of a family sharing Christmas dinner together is described by Tom
Starnes in "A Family's Blessings." The love and respect of
two cousins who buy matching cloaks becomes a visible symbol of "The
Way Our Lives Are Interwoven" (Jennifer Harris). And there's the
love of a mother, Karen Torgerson Jackson ("What a Waste"),
who manages to spend an entire day with her daughter without saying
the word "lesbian" once. These are ordinary stories of love
and celebration that are also extraordinary in a world that constantly
attempts to disenfranchise our family members.
We have also written
this book as a gift to all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered
people--to tell them they are indeed loved and celebrated. They are
celebrated fiercely ("The Pride of a Lion" by James Pines).
They are celebrated compassionately ("The Heart of a Flower"
by Carole and Richard L. Fowler) and they are celebrated in the presence
of God ("Alleluia" by Reverend Kurt A. Olson).
They are celebrated
on the floor of the legislature ("Testimony" by 10-year-old
Sol Kelley-Jones), at church ("Witness" by Betty Dorr) and
at school ("Something joyous Within Me Broke I Through" by
We family members
are literally bursting out of our closets. As the religious right shouts,
"Gays are leading sinful lives," as full page newspaper ads
state, "Gays can be cured"; these writers proclaim, "We
are thrilled that our family members are gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgendered. We wouldn't want them to 'be' any other way."
Many people have
the perception that having a gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgendered
family member is a problem to be overcome. Many people indeed go through
various stages of denial, grief, anger, and fear. We have also collected
these stories for families who are struggling--to show them what is
possible if they open their hearts and simply love.
These stories show that it is not only possible to celebrate our gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgendered family members--it is, natural,
basic, and inherent in the family relationship.
Some of the contributors
to this anthology refer to an organization called PFLAG (Parents, Families
and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). PFLAG promotes the health and well-being
of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons, their families
and friends through: support, to cope with an adverse society; education,
to enlighten an ill-informed public; and advocacy, to end discrimination
and to secure civil rights. PFLAG provides an opportunity for dialogue
about our sexual orientation and gender identity, and acts to create
a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity. Serving
over 80,000 members, PFLAG affiliates are located in more than 445 communities
across the United States, and abroad. Whether you are gay, lesbian,
bisexual, transgendered or a family member, PFLAG needs your support
and presence to further its mission.
represents the voices of over 50 mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings,
children, nieces, nephews, and cousins; however, there are many more
family members out there who celebrate. We encourage you to continue
doing the most important job you can possibly do in your life--to show
another person that they are loved, supported, and valued. And if the
feeling strikes you to one day express that love publicly--do it!! join
PFLAG, write letters, march in pride parades, speak out. That love and
outreach will return to you in ways you never imagined. That love can
reduce the risk of AIDS, suicide and drug use. If gay, lesbian, bisexual
and transgendered people are valued and celebrated, they will have a
reason to love and celebrate themselves. One of the contributors to
this anthology, Laura Lamb, has used a pseudonym out of respect for
her daughter who is not yet "out" at high school. Another
contributor, Dennis Shepard, honors his son Matthew after Matthew's
brutal murder. We, the editors, hope that one day all gay, lesbian,
bisexual and transgendered people will be able to live with more openness
and acceptance--they no longer need to live in fear of coming out or
being harmed. We see the day when stories like these will be the standard
by which young gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people can be
accepted and loved.
-Laura Siegel & Nancy Lamkin Olson