(This post originally appeared HERE on the GLAAD Blog.)
Pride for me has always meant being as out as possible. But I come to the LGBT community tangentially, so being out has meant outing others. When my moms chose to try to have kids in 1988, they were really only out in certain circles. People could choose to view Cheryl and Cheryl, who lived in a relatively spacious apartment in Lower Manhattan however they wanted; as roommates, as lovers, as sisters whose parents had bizarrely chosen to give them the same name. Then in 1992, I was born and suddenly the world couldn’t pretend anymore. When I was at the playground and somebody would ask who my "mommy" was, I would point to the woman with the graying, shoulder length black hair in monochromatic colors and say "that's my mommy." But then I would point to the woman with the short brown hair and wide rimmed glasses, wearing the "silence=death" tank top and say, "and that's my mama."
My moms eventually got used to it. When, at family events where the adults had made a silent pact not to discuss the big lesbian elephant in the room, I eventually told someone that I had two moms, they rolled their eyes or laughed it off.
"We gave birth to a bigger rainbow flag waver than us," my mom once joked.
There came a point, after my moms split up and mama moved out, that I could have stopped telling everyone but I didn't and the moms realized that I would never stop pushing them out of the closet. I'm twenty now, they hardly protest anymore. Better to have a daughter who's proud, then a daughter who hides you away.
I recently became more familiar with the story of my non-biological grandfather's life and death through an interview project with Mama. He was her dad, he was also gay and he died of AIDS in 1986. During the interview, she told me about a time my grandfather was beaten by someone who had figured out his secret. After the rapid succession of gay bashings and the murder of Marc Carson in Manhattan last month, I went to a couple of rallies where I held a sign that read "In the 1960s my gay grandfather was bashed (in Missouri). It's 2013! I shouldn't have to worry about my moms, aunts and LGBT friends (in NYC or anywhere)." A photo of me holding the sign was posted on Facebook.
The photo and the interview project sparked a curious debate in my family. My uncle is not convinced that my grandfather would've been comfortable with being as out as I have made him. My uncle also lives in Texas and is career military man (my grandfather was in the military as well, long before DADT and even longer before its repeal). When he died, he was living in Kansas City, MO and it was the mid-1980s. Today, the world is different. Though not as many strides have been made in Kansas City, my grandfather may have been inspired by the world he saw his daughter and granddaughter living in in New York City.
No one can say whether my grandfather would be out and proud today. Would he and his partner come and visit at the end of every June to watch the Pride Parade with us? Would he be excited about the possibilities of the upcoming decisions about DOMA? Or would he advise me to quiet down my activism and keep him out of it? We'll never know.
I am proud of my grandfather and my moms. I am proud of him for choosing to be himself in the late 1960s, even if he was quiet about it. I'm proud that he found and lived with a man he loved for the last fifteen years of his life.
I am proud of my moms for overcoming familial awkwardness and societal homophobia so that they could have a kid and I am proud of them for allowing me to be loud and proud even if it sometimes made them uncomfortable.
Pride for me is about family. I was fortunate to grow up in a place where being out wasn't dangerous. There is a special kind of closet for kids with LGBT parents. It can be opened or closed by a question as simple as "what do your parents do?" or a school form that has lines for "mother" and "father." I've never wanted to be in that closet so I've answered the question with "one of my moms is a social worker and the other is a chiropractor" and crossed out the word father on narrow-minded forms. Even in the tiniest moments (like writing the word "other mother" above a scribbled out word), I am proud.