You might not guess it by looking at me, but I was raised in one of those Non-Traditional Families. And it was a really long time ago, before there was such a thing . . . or at least it felt that way to me. I felt like the only kid in the world who didn't live with her mother and her father all under one roof. But I was very young, so what did I know?
My parents divorced when I was almost three. And due to extenuating circumstances, I went to live with my grandparents when I was three. It was 1969. It was supposed to be temporary. But, lucky for me, and despite the protests of my grandparents' overly concerned friends, I remained in their home until I went to college. My mother lived on the racetrack training racehorses and my father traveled around with a camera bag. It was complicated and wonderful and misunderstood and at times painful, but it all worked out - I'm here to tell the tale.
The first time I realized I was different was when a kid in my first grade class asked me why I was late to school every day? I said, "Cause my grandmother drives me to school before she goes to her job." And the kid pressed further, "Why donchya take the bus?" And I didn't know, but the reason was cause I was going to school out of my district, to a school that was close to my grandmother's job and close to the family that babysat me in the afternoons after school, so all I could answer him was, "I don't know, I live with my grandparents, and they bring me to school." The kid screwed up his face and asked me his last question, "How come you live with your grandparents? Are your mom and dad dead?" I cried and ran away from him.
As time went on I learned how to answer the questions. How to explain my situation. And I met other kids who didn't live in the Nuclear Family. And we realized we were kinda cool and kinda lucky cause we were Different.
I wrote a whole book about it, but tonight I'm using my story to ask you, if you live in North Carolina, to go vote against Amendment One on May 8th. Never mind that it's bad for North Carolina businesses, never mind that it's discriminatory, never mind that it will make our state look ignorant and resistant to the idea that all people have the right to be who they really are -- the thing that is at the heart of it for me is that it forgets that kids need their families, no matter how strange or different they might seem to you -- it's the only family those kids know, and in that family they are loved and cherished and protected. Amendment One will take that away from the kids who live in Non Traditional Families in North Carolina and that's an unbearable thought to me. A family is a family is a family and love is love is love.