GLAAD friend and author Lesléa Newman has written a blog for Huffington Post entitled "Coming Full Circle: Stonewall, My Mother and Me." In the post Lesléa talks about her mother's journey from expressing confusion and disgust upon reading about the Stonewall riots of 1969 to becoming her daughter's fiercest ally and fan. Lesléa discusses how she struggled for many years to understand why she didn't feel the way her friends did about boys and the possibility of having husbands one day. There were no GSAs, no out celebrities, no gay literature so she had no resources to put a name to what she felt.
"I spent many miserable years unaware that inside this unhappy hurting heterosexual, there was a happy, healthy (horny!) homosexual dying to come out," Lesléa writes.
She didn't come out until she was 27 and living in Northampton, MA. It was then that she found her voice as a writer. By 1989, the year her landmark book Heather Has Two Mommies came out, Lesléa had a partner, a community and was marching in local pride parades. But, she reminds the readers, things were far from perfect, particularly with the AIDS crisis looming over the gay community.
Eventually Lesléa's mom came to accept Lesléa's partner as one of her own and in 2012, just a little while before she died, Lesléa's mother insisted on reading October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, Lesléa's most recent book. They sat in the same room where 43 years earlier, she had watched her mom throw down the newspaper in disgust after reading about Stonewall.
"And I watched my mother, at the end of her life, read a book that pleads with the world for LGBT acceptance with both of us wiping tears from our eyes."
Lesléa's story is so important because it highlights how much a person can change and grow. Acceptance is not always (or even often) instantaneous, but a person can learn. A parent may struggle to understand their LGBT child at first, but if everyone remains open to communication they may come to be their child's proudest ally. Just as Lesléa had no LGBT role models to look up to, her mother had no LGBT people to help guide her to acceptance. Until her daughter came out and became her mother's guide. While immediate acceptance is the ideal, a parent's willingness to grow and change can make all the difference to a child struggling to accept and find acceptance in this world.