A few weeks ago, I Netflixed Gus Van Sant's terrific movie "Milk." It got me to thinking about changes in society, homophobia and my mother.
The movie depicted Anita Bryant's hate campaign against gay folks. I remember it well. I was in high school, and was a good old American teenaged homophobe. Like racism and sexism, homophobia was entrenched in white suburban society.
One day, my mother and I happened to be in the kitchen at the same time, and the ever-present radio was on. The WGN newscaster recounted how Bryant had said that homosexuals should be wiped off the face of the earth. I chuckled and said that she was right. My mother, a little shocked, turned to me and asked why I would say a thing like that-- what have they ever done to you?
I stood there in shocked silence-- and thought. I realized that she was right. It was a turning point in my life. If I hadn't dropped the homophobia, I would have missed out on a bunch of terrific friendships, including that of my best friend Jim. On this Mother's Day, decades later, I realize how many of the core values I have were thanks to my mother, whom I'm lucky enough to have around still. Not everyone is so lucky. Thanks Mom, for what you gave me, and for being you.