Embracing Our Differences
Growing up with a single mother, I was brought along to many adult meetings, activities, and parties. We took a class on opera appreciation to which it has taken me almost 40 years to appreciate and not dread opera. We learned about native plants at our nearby Mianus River Gorge from a botanist who impressed upon me the personal responsibility we owe to the land. We hosted a meet and greet for a very young Marty Rogowsky (and I think I was 8 years old) as he ran for State Assembly.
When I was off from school for vacations my mother would often bring me to Post Road School in White Plains where she taught sixth grade. I got to know all her friends from work — Woody Woodman, Gene Taylor, Joan Shepherd, Candy Hadaka, Bev Bailey, Anne Kenney, Joe Spizzato, and many more names that I could add. Even if she hadn’t brought me to her school, I would have gotten to know her friends because they did a lot of social things together too, and my mom and I were a package deal. I remember dinners at Gene’s house in Mt. Vernon, watching Woody act with the Fort Hill Players, going to the Jersey Shore with Joe, and parties at Bev and Al’s house.
Bev and Al lived together. Bev taught with my mom while Al was a gym teacher at another school. Bev seemed very tall to me while Al was distinctly shorter with very short salt-and- pepper hair to match. I think I must have been 7 the first time I went to their house. I know from that first occasion that I thought Al was pretty great. He showed me their animals and kept me engaged in the conversation of the evening. He cracked some good jokes, and I remember laughing a lot. From then on, I always looked forward to going to parties at Bev and Al’s.
I don’t know how old I was when I learned that Al was short for Alice. I don’t know if I ever learned whether they were a lesbian couple or both trans. But I know for a fact, that I never learned there was anything wrong with being trans, gay, lesbian, or bi. Good people are just good people regardless of what other boxes they check.
I’m disappointed that some in my community are fearful of difference. It’s not contagious my friends. But if you were the parent of a young boy who liked to dress like a princess or a girl who abbreviated her name to match her traditionally masculine appearance, I would think you would want your child to love who they are and for the world to be accepting. This is what Drag Queen Story Hour can teach.
- Catherine Parker