then and nowToday is the anniversary of my dad’s death. He died in 1995 and whenever this anniversary comes up, I think about how different things were for him, for me growing up – then and now.

My mom had two brothers who were gay and we never talked about it. I know from stories my uncle told me how difficult it was to be gay in the 30’s and 40’s. Looking back at how they spoke of them, I’m not sure exactly how they felt about them being gay.

When I was growing up I didn’t know anyone who was gay, or at least that’s what I thought. Somehow I knew it wasn’t a good thing. I remember giggling about a high school science teacher whom we all suspected was gay. I remember feeling like I could never handle it if my son were gay. Then and now.

By the time my son came out in 1989, I had many gay and lesbian friends. I was worried about how my parents would react but they were great. They told him they only wanted him to be happy. 

Last night I was talking to the husband of a friend. He just didn’t understand what it meant to be transgender and non-binary – that totally baffled him. It reminded me of what it was like in the earlier days of gay liberation. Once more, I’m reminded how important it is for people to be out, to tell their stories and let people know them. 

I’m in awe of the moms I know of young transgender children who are out, outspoken and making a difference for all transgender children. They subject themselves to ridicule and hate from strangers. But they persist and fight for their children’s rights. Things are different and better today for transgender people than they were 20 years ago. And there is still a long way to go. But I do have hope for the future. Things will continue to change and get better. I just know it.

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