By Joanne Fryer, Chief People Officer
“I like girls.”
Words delivered by my 15-year-old daughter marked the beginning of my journey as an LGBTQIA ally. But in that moment, I could not honestly call myself an ally. I was totally taken by surprise when Jenny came out. I was also in denial. I thought, “She’s just experimenting,” “Maybe she is bisexual.” Everything I thought I knew about my daughter had suddenly shifted. It was that moment when I realized I needed to take a step back, get my bearings and then quickly reflect and support this new journey I would be taking alongside her.
As Jenny courageously owned her sexual identity, our relationship changed. I adored her new girlfriend and I recognized that supporting and encouraging Jenny in her fully expressed identity was not only my obligation as a mother, but it was also an opportunity for me to grow and become an ally.
At the same time, my close friend’s son started the process of transitioning. Another shift. Another opportunity to grow and support another mother as well as a brave friend manifesting her full self.
I am humbled by the strength and bravery of Jenny and my friend’s daughter and grateful for the efforts of those who have worked to create the cultural, social, and political context that empowers and supports the LGBTQIA community.
Here at DKC, we are only a 30-minute walk from Stonewall, where the gay rights movement began. As I continue to support, encourage, educate myself as an ally, it is critically important that I showcase to my family, friends, colleagues, and peers what a good LGBTQIA ally looks like. I ask you to think about one thing as you read this today: What is the role you play in fostering LGBTQIA inclusion?
Very few of us are born as allies. It takes focus, personal reflection, compassion, and a willingness to be open and listen. We can begin to recognize that what initially may seem foreign and difficult to understand, is beautiful and a divine expression of all our humanity.
What I never anticipated when I considered starting a family is that my children would be my most beloved teachers. This is the fortune of parenthood, to be challenged and enriched by the babies we brought into the world.
My own mother always told me that the next generation is always an improvement on the last. She was right.