Category: Celebrations & Holidays

Largest Pride Parade Ever

Dear Christopher

When I think back on my experiences as a teacher at Hutch Tech High School over 20 years ago, I am struck at how much has changed.  In the midst of my tenure there I learned that you, my 25-year-old son, were gay. One of the people I turned to for support was a colleague and friend, Mike, who also happened to be gay.  He eased my fears, especially my health fears for you.  At that time there was still no controlling the AIDS epidemic.  Besides, I saw that he and his partner had a stable life together surrounded by family and friends. Not lonely men going to clubs each night.  Was that my secret fear?  That you would be alone in the world?  Maybe.

wny prideAt that time, Mike felt he could not be out to his students. He told me very few (if any) gay teachers were. In fact some administrators openly discriminated against teachers they thought were gay. I knew students whispered about certain faculty members.  So to confront this blatant homophobia he and I hatched a plan to apply for a small grant that brought LGBT books to my classroom.  A very tiny step, I know, but so major at the time we had to get approval from the principal. I asked my students to move beyond their comfort zone and read LGBT books and report on them.  After some nervous laughter at first, they were more than willing.  Some of the books disappeared from my classroom library, which I thought was good since it meant some closeted student took them home to read.  Maybe it gave him or her some needed support.

On a recent lunch with Mike, he told me how many students marched in our Buffalo Pride Parade this year as part of Gay Straight Alliances.  This parade was the largest ever.  When it first began 20 years ago there were very few marchers and very few observers.  The newspaper and the TV stations did not even cover it.  That all has changed. There was great fanfare in all the media about the largest parade ever.

Gay Lesbian Youth Services promoted the parade among the many local GSAs.  There were over 250 students and parents.  Now there are 24 GSAs marching in the Buffalo Pride Parade. My former school, Hutch Tech, had 27 students and parents participating. Back then we did not even imagine there could be a GSA. What a thrilling change.

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Though gay and lesbian young people are coming out earlier and finding gay allies, make no mistake, I am not under the illusion that all is right with the world. There is still violence directed at gay people.  There is still prejudice.

But the Pride Parade this year illustrates how far we have come.  Not only because of a changing society but also because of brave men and women like you and your friends who have told their own stories.  Organizations such as GLYS have helped schoolteachers and students in high schools brave enough to initiate and support GSA’s.  To bravely march in parades that call attention to pride of identity is an achievement.  The closet is dark and lonely.  No longer should any young person (or old person) have to hide in shadows.

Love, Mom

Fathers’ Day Reflection

Dear Christopher,

What a joy it is for me to be around so many great dads. Now you may think, why of course, Dad, your grandfathers, you guys all fill the bill. That is true. But growing up I saw many dads who were not and some spectacularly so. They were remote and alcoholic, or plain abusive. Some of my mother’s uncles were very mean to their children. Lucky for me my dad was just a wonderful man. You remember how Pa was. He joked with us, played with children, and helped any of us in the family. Pa was truly a shining example of a loving father and grandfather—those merry eyes, that deep belly laugh, the teasing words that did not hide his kind actions.

ScanI could call him in the middle of night for help (and did on occasion) and he would be at our house. Not only did he work on our home, also he built furniture for all of us. I love my memory of coming home from work one day when you were a teenager and finding you and Pa in our family room installing bookcases that you worked on together. You were both lying on the floor kicking them in since the measurements to fit the wall were a bit tight! But as terrific as he was, he was not around much when I was growing up. He had to work two jobs, hard physical labor, and was on the couch resting when he came home.

When I married I wanted a partner who planned to be an active and involved parent. I made a good decision Scan 1because your dad was and is every bit of that. As you and Mark were growing up he was there at all stages, even changing diapers and feeding babies at a time when men did not do that so much. Later he would organize various activities such as playing ball, planting a garden, going to Boy Scout camp, planning our family vacations. He is an involved granddad as well. We both take great pleasure in being part of our grandchildren’s life.

Daddy & ZoeI have observed Mark’s parenting skills. He is also a very involved loving dad. He takes an active part in all of Noah’s many plans, building a tree house, creating a mountainous village around the Christmas train set, going camping with his kids. I see his special relationship with Zoe, baking and cooking with her, pushing her to try new adventures in hiking and skiing.

Also I have observed you and Patrick. It’s clear how much care and devotion your give your kids. There are games and fun as well as rules and homework. I have been on nature walks with your kids and have seen you100_0511 challenge them to go biking or kayaking. One of my best memories is seeing you play in the pool with your kids. They love being in the pool with you and Patrick. One time when Dad and I took them on an overnight in a hotel with a pool I saw how sorely they missed you. We were not nearly as much fun.

Yes, I feel lucky to have all you dads in my life. And your kids are lucky too. Very lucky!! The love you dads show is encompassing. Pa would have been proud of you all. Though he might tease you those twinkling eyes would shine!

Happy Fathers’ Day!

Love, Mom

 

Time is of the Essence

Dear Christopher,

I just re-read your entry from last week. I finally have a minute to myself after some hectic days. Wow.  I feel so honored and privileged. You did make me cry.  And made me remember those moments we had together.  Yes, I do remember lots of chats and lots of laughs too when I wrangled you into helping me with an activity.  Maybe wrapping Christmas gifts or even seeing an inappropriate movie!!

 

Family of FourTime seems so short now. I suppose it is to everyone of my age. I cherish those past times we had together as a family. I remember seeing you and Mark learn to water ski from Joe Leone’s boat. It was great seeing you guys learn to do something I was sure I would never do. I felt confident of your swimming skills since I dragged you both to swimming lessons in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in a car without air conditioning.   We all three sweated our way to the Y and back.

Then there was the poor turtle that fried in the back seat while we went into a store. Like your daughter, you always wanted a pet. We went from turtles to fish to the bunny. I know you wanted a dog, but we always had the excuse of your allergies. Plus Dad said he never wanted the responsibility of a dog. Can you believe that now Dad actually enjoys taking your dog for walks? Surprise, surprise!! He pets Moe and rubs her ears. His granddaughter’s love for dogs has made him a convert.Family Portrait

Yes, do try to savor those moments with your kids.  We have these times together for such a short time.  I know Jordan and Isabella will remember with great fondness the camping trips, the nature walks, the vacations among a thousand other experiences.

Ten plus years ago when you called to say you just brought home this darling baby girl, I knew you and Patrick would be super parents. Over the years I have observed you both up close in wonderful and in trying situations. Never for a moment have I doubted you. If I helped you take on the nurturer role of parenting then I am doubly honored, even thrilled.

Our time together is so valuable, especially when we all get to go away for a weekend trip, and just hang out with you guys and the kids. In addition the whole family vacations with Mark and Barbara and the kids make for such a special time. I remember my mother would look around the dinner table when all of us were together and count heads when the phone rang. Then she would beam, and say, “All my family is here.” Well now I understand. Thanks for making those essential family times happen.

Love, Mom