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