Many years ago, I returned from a business trip to be greeted by my late wife telling me that our daughter, Deb, had some news she wanted to tell me. The news was that she was dating a woman. In all honesty, my first reaction was to wonder what the neighbors might think, and even what we may have done as parents to bring this about. My next reaction, however, should have been my very first one: how could we support Deb? She was open and honest with us, and we had to meet this honesty with acceptance and love.
We heard her voice, sharing this deeply personal and important part of herself, and in the days, months, and years that followed, experienced a transformation as a family. Certainly the experience of coming out to us, and to her community, must have been transformative in ways that I can’t even imagine. But reflecting on my own experience, it’s striking to consider how profoundly I was transformed, as well. From someone who knew nothing about homosexuality and nothing about what it really meant to be a gay person in America, I was thrust into a movement of understanding, acceptance, advocacy, and leadership. In truth, it was love for my daughter that got me there. I’m so grateful to Deb for this. If it weren’t for the Debs of the world who came out and transformed their parents, who knows if the social change that we have seen would have been possible, and more locally, if BJ would have become the leader that it is in speaking out and standing up for gay rights as human rights. This is the power of love: to open hearts, transform lives, and change the world.