“The beauty of standing up for your rights is others see you standing and stand up as well.” — Cassandra Duffy
Mark and I marched in our first Pride  Parade this month 15 years after our twin sons came out. Why so long you might think?
In a word, uncomfortable.
Us with figuring out the new rules of our family when the boys shared their truth. Them figuring out how to live in their truth in the already tumultuous world of being teenagers. And some family members who weren’t comfortable with our family’s reality clashing with their beliefs and religion.
As Mark and I talked about why we waited so long to walk with like-minded, loving people at Pride, we speculated that the boys were uncomfortable with us participating as we became comfortable with their new community. Our sons asked us not to walk during their early years as this was their thing. Dating is awkward enough as a teen much less when society doesn’t accept who you are. As Alex said, “Pride is the easiest time for gay kids to date and how young people start to find their first relationships.”
I remember the boys coming home after their first Pride parade and events totally pumped and empowered from the acceptance and support they experienced en masse. They whitewashed some of the hate mongers’ slurs and epithets as they know how incensed I become at ignorance and cruelty. Adam and Alex’s way of dealing with these small-minded bigots was to blow glitter kisses to them as they danced merrily down the macadam. Adam usually takes a more peaceful approach—unless someone harasses his Brudder. Hell hath no fury like his twin scorned.
As the years passed, I also think the boys wanted unfettered freedom to express themselves in ways they couldn’t if we were part of their Pride scene. In his 20s, Alex once said, “You can march if you’re OK seeing me covered in glitter and a leather harness.” I’ve seen his art and attended his performances so the remark seemed more about his discomfort than ours. Still, we opted out.
The family members who support us are all in. Setting boundaries we weren’t aware of at the time to stave off the views of those less charitable. Of the basic needs we have as humans, the most important is love. In my perfect world as a mom—that love is unconditional and everyone loves my children 100%, no exceptions. If you don’t, you are on the outer ring of the circle. We’ll be respectful of your beliefs, but they aren’t allowed to penetrate our love for our children and friends in the LGBTQIA+  community. If you are uncomfortable with that, so be it.
Our sons taught us that Pride’s history began in violence with the Stonewall Uprising in 1969  when the police raided the Stonewall Inn and the patrons, sick of the harassment, fought back. In the movement that followed, it became a rebellion, a funeral march in the 80s to present day as a celebration and honoring for the dauntless people who risked their lives fighting for their civil rights. While I can’t imagine what it meant to face down such bigotry, I am eternally grateful to those who did so my sons can live in more harmony and safety. Still, there’s more to do to change minds and hearts.
My husband and I think there is room at the table for diverse opinions. But not opinions that hide behind religious doctrine that denies human spirit. Central to that is our strong belief that marriage is for anyone who wants to make a loving commitment to honor and cherish another for as long as they both shall live. I believe in a God that blesses each union, even if the couple isn’t religious, because love is omnipotent and when you’re lucky enough to find it, makes our world better. It doesn’t matter your race, religion, gender or sexual orientation for this fundamental right.
Fast forward to 2019 and we decided to march this year with Mark’s company. BGE/Exelon’s Ally Program  is legit, not just a token checkmark on the the corporate mission and values list. Sporting Pride logo shirts and our Pride Parent buttons, rainbow bandanas and bracelets, we marched along Charles Street with dozens of his colleagues and their families.
What an experience to hear thousands of Baltimoreans cheering us for our advocacy. Many shouting hoorays specifically to Mark and me, giving high fives for supporting our kids as I shouted back, “Proud mom of gay twins!” My beloved ran up to another mom bearing a rainbow lettered sign reading “Proud mom of two gay kids.” They hugged, raising arms in solidarity. That was a defining moment for me, witnessing my husband, an introvert by nature, so overcome with joy that he embraced a total stranger.
Happily, we found our way through the rainbow to the treasure at the end. Just because our sons are gay doesn’t mean the end of our dreams of extended family, marriages, new homes, maybe even grandchildren one day if they so choose. We are so accustomed to our family’s tight bond, we don’t often take a step back to realize that what is so normal for us isn’t universal in the LGTBQ world— not every family has the love and acceptance we give so freely to our sons.
So we march. And we share our stories. We tell the truth that at first learning the boys are gay was really hard. We educate when people are willing to listen, and stand up for our kids, their friends and the rights of the LGTBQ community. We embrace any folks we encounter who need a hug, a shoulder and open heart. Now uncomfortable has been replaced with unconditional.
After all, that’s what parents do when you are blessed with children. Stand with Pride beside them.
1 Gay Pride History – Britannica.com,
2 The ABCs of L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+ – New York Times, 6/17/18
3 Remembering the Stonewall Inn 1969 – Stonewall Outloud, STORYCORPS.org
4 Portraits of Pride – BGE NOW
#lovewins #lgbtq #marriageequality #gay #loveislove #lgbt #love #thegaytriarch #gaypride #FeelThePride