Saturday, April 2, 2011


The HIV/AIDS community has lost one of their most outspoken advocates,

Miss Elizabeth Taylor.

She was glamorous, talented, bawdy and beautiful but most of all she was a voice for all the men, women and children who could not be heard. For the past twenty years she raised money, awareness and worked tirelessly to make a difference in the HIV/AIDS communities throughout the world. Whether she was in the United States, Europe or Asia, her message was heard loud and clear, eliminate HIV/AIDS.

Miss Taylor’s journey began in Dec. 1984 when her long time friend Rock Hudson died of AIDS. It was then that she became involved with AIDS Project in LA (APLA), fundraising, educating and speaking to anyone who would listen and listen they did.

The following year she joined the Board of Directors of the National AIDS Research Foundation which then merged with the N.Y. based AIDS Research Foundation and became the American Foundation for AIDS Research, commonly known as amFAR. This organization became her passion for the rest of her days, never missing an opportunity to speak at a hearing, a fundraiser or drop in at AIDS clinic to hug a patient who yearned to be embraced by someone who was not afraid to touch them.

There is a large community of people living vital and productive lives because Miss Taylor had the courage to speak out and make a difference. We must all learn a lesson from Liz and join the fight against this insidious disease through donations and also have compassion of those who are living day to day waiting for a cure.

Goodbye Elizabeth, may you rest in peace, you certainly have earned it.

hugs, Barbara

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


For the past six months the book, “The Meaning of Matthew” by Judy Shepard has been on my living room coffee table waiting to be read. It’s the story of Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in Laramie, Wyoming. Matthew was tied to a fence, brutally beaten, and left for dead, for one reason only, because he was gay. Eighteen hours later, a cyclist found him and called for help. Mathew was brought to the ICU of a Fort Collins, CO hospital, where he lingered for three more days before passing on.

This book was published in 2009, but my fear of reading this tragic mothers story paralyzed me from purchasing it. The reason I finally was able to buy it was because I knew having the book in my home was the first step to facing my fear. I was feeling like a hypocrite during that time because I’m always touting the phrases “fear is a four letter word” and “eliminate fear with education” but I was unable to take my own advice. Guilty as charged.

Last week I could no longer hide from the fact that this mother had an important story to tell and I was going to read it. I knew my heart would ache for days just thinking about the pain this family endured but the time had come to face my fear.

I read this book in one day. From the first page, the simple dialogue captures the reader. I did not stop, going from one chapter to the next, until the last page was turned. I felt it would have been disrespectful to put the book down before Mrs. Shepard finished her story. It was as if I was at a PFLAG meeting and Matthew Shepard’s mom was telling her story.

“The Meaning of Matthew”, shows the power of healing, how an event so horrific can be used for the greater good. This courageous family has made the loss of Matthew a teachable moment, exposing the homophobic culture that exists in our country and the world. They have created the Matthew Shepard Foundation,, to honor their son. The goal for the foundation is to replace hate and ignorance with understanding, compassion and acceptance.

I strongly urge each and everyone who reads this blog to read this book. Yes, it will make your heart ache and scare you to tears, but don’t be afraid like I was, finding your courage sets you free.

hugs, Barbara

Tuesday, March 1, 2011



On Thursday, February 24th, Chronicle aired a show called “Growing up Gay”. It was co-hosted by Randy Price, who is a gay news anchor on Channel 5 and featured Steve Buckley, radio personality and sports writer for the Boston Herald, who recently came out. The show also featured a young man, who attempted suicide when he was in high school, along with his dad and a great piece about a young bi-racial man who found a safe place to land at Brighton High School, thanks to an openly lesbian English teacher that runs the high school’s Gay/Straight/Alliance Program. Each segment had a powerful story to tell and kudos to Chronicle for featuring such programs as the GSA. It is so important for our children to be aware of the support that’s out there, the statistics show that a frightening one in three gay youths have attempted suicide.

As I watched this program, I thought how lucky are we to be living in Massachusetts and why it is so important. A show like this would never be aired in Florida, Texas or Alabama, just to name a few. We are so fortunate to have forward thinking individuals making good decisions for all the people in our great state.

We have successful professional gay men and women living very public lives here in the Bay State and they are the role models for our children’s future. They are giving them hope that when they grow up and start a career, they too can be openly gay and successful.

I can’t leave out something I saw on Oprah last week. Lisa Ling has a series on Oprah’s OWN network called “Our America with Lisa Ling”, which does stories on all different types of people in living in America. This particular story was about a couple living in New England, I believe in Massachusetts, who had a son named Harry who transgendered to a girl, Hailey, at the age of three. She is now seven years old and lives her life as female. I think her parents have shown the courage and strength of our greatest warriors, they have released her from a life of pain and anguish that so many men and women, who struggle with the decision to transgender, but do not have the support of a loving family. Granted, there are always challenges for our children, gay, straight or transgender, but when they have a loving family supporting them, love always wins over hate. For a person longing to live as another gender, it is not living, it’s merely existing.

PFLAG makes life for our children worth living. With the programs they create and the work that they do enable me to write about the success stories in this post. We all can make a difference and when you do, you become a better you, too!

hugs, Barbara

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ten Reasons Why I Feel Blessed to Have A Gay Son

For this blog post I thought it would be fun to list 10 reasons why I feel so blessed to have a gay son. Of course I have more than 10 reasons but I didn’t want to run the risk that you’d be nodding off at #105, so I think these 10 will get the message across. I also have to preface that the order of the reasons do not have any significance so please don’t feel slighted that you are not mentioned at the top.

  1. This one is obvious for any mom who has an only child who is gay. I now will be able to bequeath my jewelry to whomever I want and not have to worry about an ungrateful daughter-in-law wearing my favorite pieces before I hit the pearly gates!

  1. I am blessed to have met mentor and friend, Pam Garramone. She is the executive director of Greater Boston PFLAG and is amazing. Pam works so hard keeping our children safe in our schools. She works tirelessly giving workshops for teachers and students to give them the tools to eliminate bullying and foster acceptance of our LGBT youths. .

  1. My sister Frayda needs to be mentioned. From my very first article that I wrote for the GBPFLAG newsletter, Frayda has edited all of them. She has had her pen on every piece I have produced. We’ve laughed together and cried together and she’s never let me down. Frayda has been by my side, step by step, on this amazing journey and for this I am blessed.

  1. My moms that I mentor are definitely in the top ten. These women have worked so hard to find their voice as parents of a gay child. We’ve had tears and laughter during these past three years and hope to have many more in the future. It takes a special breed of mom to walk this walk and they are among the ones that count.

  1. Half way done and not any less important. My family and friends have always been there for me. In the early days when I was so sad and confused they all listened to my sad tales of woe and never judged me. You can pick your friends, you can choose your enemies but your family is your family and for that I am grateful.

  1. I would be remiss if I did not mention all the gay men and women at American Airlines that I have worked with during the last 10 years. I’ve had hours and hours of jumpseat therapy. Sometimes giving it and other times receiving it. Each time I start a trip, if there’s at least one gay flight attendant on board, I know it’s going to be a good trip!

  1. ROBERT, ROBERT, ROBERT! Robert is Max’s “main squeeze” and we are truly blessed to have him in our family. From the very first meet and greet, I said to Richie, “I hope this ones a keeper”. He is everything I had hope for in a mate for Max, all boxes checked! One of the many reasons I love Robert so much is because we both love Max. They are made for each other and for this I am truly blessed.

  1. This is for all the gay and lesbian men and women I have met over the years. I would not be the person I am today if did not meet and befriend them. Whether it was at the parade, on the plane or at a PFLAG meeting, I have become a better version of myself. I am, without a doubt, one of the lucky ones.

  1. Nine belongs to my “main squeeze” Mr. Richie Weiner. He is the glue that keeps our family together. Max and I would have dropped into a dismal abyss if Richie was not there to embrace, love and never leave us. For this I am grateful everyday, for the blessing of him.

  1. By now I’m sure Max is wondering why he’s not #1 on the list, but that is just Max being Max and why we love him. So, I have saved the best for last, and that’s my Max, my best work. In my view he’s won life’s trifecta, a great career, a wonderful home and most importantly an amazing relationship with Robert. Those three things are what make you whole and allows you to be all that you can be. Max is the best of the best, cream of the crop, top of the heap and for that privilege of being his mother I will always be greateful, and cherish the blessings that have been bestowed upon me.

I have so enjoyed writing this post because it has been a mid winter reality check. So when I have computer glitches that bring me to my knees to pray and I’m shoveling snow storm after storm I can remind myself just how blessed I am, and carry on!

Hugs, Barbara

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


As most everyone knows, this season is the 25th and final year of the Oprah Winfrey Show. Each year she does a Coming Out Show, her last aired January 24, 2011.

These shows have always been wonderful to watch, and heartening when we realize just how far we have traveled in our journey for acceptance, it was great to see that our hairstyles and fashion sense have also evolved. Among the many stories that aired that day, two, in particular, touched my heart. The first featured Olympic swimmer, Greg Louganis, who first appeared on Oprah in 1995.

The segment began with an interview with a young man, who said that Oprah’s airing of Louganis’ coming out on national TV saved his life. At 12 years old he knew he was gay and thought he was the only one who felt that way. After seeing Greg Louganis, an Olympic medal winner, come out to the public, he knew at that moment he was going to be okay. He didn’t come out until he was a freshman in high school, but that Greg Louganis moment gave him courage to live his truth. He is now a successful gay man living with his partner of 14 years in Hawaii. As this young man was sharing his story with Oprah, Greg Louganis surprised him on stage and gave him the opportunity to thank the man who inspired him to be his best self.

The next story involved a young women who knew she was lesbian since age 10 but her mom refused to believe it. During her teenage years her struggle with her mom continued and eventually caused an estrangement between them. Because this young girl insisted on living her truth, she left home and went to live with her grandmother. On a show in 2005, the mom and daughter appeared and aired their struggle. When that show finished taping, Oprah called upon her Chief of Staff, Libby, to speak to this mom and her daughter. Libby, after many destructive years trying to hide from herself, came out at 27 years old. She shared her story with this mom and explained that her daughter can live an authentic and successful life as a lesbian women. It was after their long conversation with Libby that the healing began. This mom just need to be educated and then the fears melted away.

Thank you Oprah for all you have done to make a difference. You have enlightened us, delighted us and most importantly made us better.

Hugs, Barbara

Monday, January 17, 2011


I am writing this blog on Martin Luther King Day because it just seems right. Dr. King was a man who fought for civil rights and was not afraid to speak his truth. He was passionate about humanity and sacrificed his life for what he felt was a story that needed to be told. He believed in non-violence, equality and social justice.

Life today still has not improved as much as Dr. King would have liked. Although there have been many successes in social change there still is a lot of work to be done. I believe we are all capable of change once we are educated and realize that fear is just a four letter word and all human beings deserve respect. It does not matter the color of your skin, your gender or gender preference, rich or poor, we are all made from living matter and more importantly, we all matter.

Dr. King, this blog is for you. May your wisdom be passed on from generation to generation and thank you for allowing us to, “Have a Dream”. Happy Birthday.

Hugs, Barbara

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Yesterday, my sister Frayda saved my tail once again. I was starting to panic because my blog deadline was fast approaching and I still had not come up with a topic. Luckily I got the call. Frayda, with a sound of urgency in her voice said “Turn on the Nate Berkus show now!” I did and oh happy day.

Nate was doing a special make over at the center for the Yes Program in NYC. The program, established through the Youth Enrichment Services, is for GLBT youths aged 13 to 21. It’s a safe place to land and begin the process of becoming confident GLBT men and women. Nate spoke a powerful message, that gays are so well connected, once you get over the bad part, and life is so good on the other side, is a beacon of hope for all. He was referring to the fact that when he did this makeover, all the people involved, furniture and interior designers, florists etc., were all successful gay men and women who owned their own businesses. I just loved that he was sending a message to all LGBT youths, that life does get better and never give up hope.

This show was also about Seth Walsh. Seth was a 6th grader who came out and was bullied to the point that he took his own life several months ago. He is yet another casualty of the ignorance in this country when dealing with LGBT youths. This brave young boy’s death must not be in vain. We must all raise awareness to the catastrophic consequences of bullying. We need to educate our children and give them the tools to protect themselves from the cowardly behavior of these bullies who are terrorizing our gay youth. This can only be achieved by educating the victims and the bullies.

Nate also talked about an organization he is closely working with called, “We Give a Damn”. Their website is This is only one of many organizations that advocate for our GLBT youths and you can find more information on the Greater Boston PFLAG website. Nate gives a damn, we should too.

Hugs, Barbara