GRAND Magazine - February 2009 - (Page 33)

surance and smooth the way. A simple explanation will serve you. “Grandma loves Aunt Mimi and is going to spend her life living with her.” As the first generation of openly gay and lesbian grandparents, there is little written about your experience. There are no books on the topic and only a handful of articles. In one of these articles, “The Grandparents Are Out,” (The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 3, 2008), Anndee Hochman writes about Marian Mitchell, who, similarly to you, was married and had a child before she divorced and came out. When Mitchell’s 9-year-old daughter asked, “Why don’t you date boys?” she said, “Because Mommy likes girls.” A generation later she found herself fielding new questions from her granddaughters. Mitchell decided it was time to come out to everyone, including her grandchildren. It has worked out very comfortably. These grandkids now participate in the Lesbian Group of Montgomery County, Virginia, attending competitive puzzle-making parties held in Mitchell’s living room. According to an online article in The Older Learner (Summer 2008, ), professors Michael Connolly and Alice Fisher created a course at Stonewall Communities Lifelong Learning Institute at Wheelock College in Boston to study the first generation of openly gay and lesbian grandparents. They found that lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) grandparents were more numerous than they had expected and that they cannot always determine the root of a problem: whether it is what all grands experience or whether it is specific to biases or concerns because of their sexual orientation. Connolly and Fisher did learn that “when and how” to come out to grandchildren was not a big issue for the kids (they also reported that in Boston’s Gay Pride Parade the most popular sign was “Gay Grandparent”). Connolly and Fisher are starting a support group for LGBT grandparents, something you might consider. Grandparents are essential in the lives of grandchildren and their families. Our unconditional love and acceptance, the connection we make to their heritage and the support we offer provide the roots and wings necessary for their optimum development. As a lesbian grandmother you can provide all of that—plus a model of courage as a pioneer in our changing social landscape. G Just the family we are By Eric HEnrickson Gay parenting is easier the second time around B Wedding ceremony in Maui in 2007 ob Harris isn’t just the grandpa, he’s the “manny.” After a stint in Vietnam, and careers as a trauma nurse and interior designer, Harris, 59, reinvented himself again and is now the primary childcare provider for two of his grandkids, Amelia, 6, and Matilda, 4. Like many gays, Bob and his partner of 28 years, Ken Travers, both have children from previous, straight marriages. As the process of coming out from those situations is unusually difficult and painful, gays who were fortunate enough to maintain good relationships with their children (or who raised their kids while being openly gay from the get-go) appreciate that they now get to do what all other grandparents do: spoil the grandkids. FEBRUARY 2009 GRAND 33

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of GRAND Magazine - February 2009

GRAND Magazine - February 2009
GRAND Central
On the Cover: Susan L. Taylor, One in a Million
Get a Job!
The Healthy Crib
Movin’ to the G’Kids
Closing In
10 Disney Secrets
Just the Family We Are
Grand Prix: 0-3
Left Behind
Cycle Safe
GRAND Finale

GRAND Magazine - February 2009