Mom Knows: Reflections on Love, Gay Pride, and Taking Action

I’d like to invite my local readers to hear my friend and mentor Catherine Tuerk speak about her book, Mom Knows: Reflections on Love, Gay Pride, and Taking Action. Details about the book talk appear at the end of this post.

I met Catherine in 2006, when my four-year-old son had just announced that he wanted to take a ballet class, wearing a tutu. I’d never met another parent of a boy in a tutu, and I reached out for support. I found a program in Washington DC for parents like me, parents whose children defied gender norms. Catherine, the project’s cofounder, talked to me for an hour—about my son, about the other children she knows like my son, about her son, about society’s lack of acceptance for kids who don’t conform to gender norms.

Who spends an hour on the phone with a stranger? Catherine—and not just with me, but with each and every one of the hundreds of parents who have joined the online support group that Catherine started with Dr. Edgardo Menvielle. Catherine and Edgardo have also formed an in-person support group for parents and one for children, written resources for parents and professionals, and launched a summer camp for gender-nonconforming children and their families. Their work has sparked support groups across the country—and it’s also sparked a change in how our society views gender-nonconforming kids.

Catherine’s book documents her transformation from the unaccepting parent of a gender-nonconforming boy to the proud—and very, very out—parent of a gay man and grandparent of his three adopted, multiracial kids. It follows Catherine’s activism around the world, from American dinner parties and trailer park crab fests to gay bars and LGBT community centers across Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa. Always, Catherine is generous with her time, her energy, and her story. As she says in her book: ”It’s all about education, time, and love.” And that’s what she gives, all day, every day. She is an activist wherever she appears.

Catherine speaks not only to kindred spirits, but to closeted people and unaware people and unaccepting families. She speaks out when she has no idea if she will find likemindedness or hatred, and she speaks out bravely anyway. She knows the power of story. She inspired me to tell my story, and has inspired countless others to move out of silence and into activism. Catherine’s writing is honest and vivid and forthright, and it’s also funny. I hope you will read Mom Knows, and share it with everyone you know.

Catherine will be speaking this Tuesday, October 2, at 7pm, at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, 290 Dolores Street at 16th in San Francisco. The event is co-sponsored by Sha’ar Zahav and San Francisco’s PFLAG chapter. I hope to see some of you there!

If you can’t come but would like to buy a book, buy it online or, for an autographed and personalized copy, contact Catherine at

October is Coming Out Month. What better way to celebrate than by giving a copy of Catherine’s book to yourself, friends, and family? 



  1. justina says

    Hello. I am an American, working in Italy as a psychotherapist. Just wanted to give you my opinion: if boys want to dress up as girls, and girls want to dress up as boys – I believe that the new generation is great, they’re more complete then we ever were – allowing them to follow their natural behaviour – once hormones will make them adults – they themselves will decide if they have a specific gender or not – since the 70’s we’ve been striving for freedom and free expression – these children are following what nature is telling them to do – the problem lies in the bias of the adults who are slaves of education, suprastructures of a petit-minded society -which is characteristic of the anglo-saxons…I suggest that you study epigenetics and understand that we are the result of our enviornment – let your children be free and fight for their freedom – allow their minds to follow creativity, which is one of the purest forms of life and future, – it’s a step forward to evolution, to a higher level of consciousness. I wish you all the best and the best for your children – justina

  2. elle says

    OT, but I just read this and wanted to share it with you. I am a westerner who’s been living in Singapore for several years and feel fairly confident claiming that the view in the post is unusual here (where homosexual sex is still illegal) and that proclaiming it publicly is brave. I *may* have squeaked out a few tears when I read it.

  3. says

    Sounds like a very interesting book and one which I would be interested in reading. Education, time and love are definitely the things that are needed but it is so easy to forget that when you are confused by a family situation

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