What is the most political thing you’ve done for LGBT rights?

Answer by Ariel Williams:

Being born. No, I really am serious.

My mother was a conservative person most of her life and an ardent Republican. She was against gay rights and anti-liberal in general. I spent most of my childhood listening to her describe how gay people were dangerous as she told me not to go near people she thought were gay and listened to her rant about how gays, lesbians and transgender people were “sick and wrong” or “disgusting”, “dangerous”, “molesters” and occasionally, “crazy”. My little brother experienced the same thing.

My little brother came out to her as gay when he was 14, he had been found out that he was kissing a boy by people at school and was being teased and even physically attacked relentlessly. He was in real danger on a daily basis. He tried to hide it from my mother but eventually she found out why he was being attacked. I am 10 years older than my brother. I came out to my mother when I was 26/27. Even I didn’t know about my brother until just before I came out.

See despite the things my mother said about LGBT people she was not a bad person. She was not a hateful person. She just was repeating all of the things she had been told when she was a child and had never had any experiences to prove these things untrue. She genuinely thought these things were true and was under the belief that LGBT people were crazy and potentially dangerous to children and others. She had lived most of her life before the LGBT rights movement even really started and had just never been exposed to reality.

When she found out both of her children were gay she first cried for several days, and I really feel bad for her for that. I think more than anything she was grieving because she realized she was unlikely to ever have grandchildren and she really had been looking forward to being the doting grandmother that spoils her children’s children with all the things they are not allowed to have. My brother wants to adopt and it is not impossible for her to be a grandmother but it is fair to say the chances are lessened. After she had cried it all out she went to research. She read every book and article she could find and looked into the reality of a situation she had never needed to consider before. She realized that most of her life she had mindlessly followed beliefs that were not even remotely true.

So move forward a decade and my mother is now supporting LGBT causes and liberal candidates for office. She is retired and wanted to find something she cared about to keep her busy so she joins the democratic party as a volunteer. Turned out she was amazing at it. She went from just a volunteer in an office to being elected the president of her local and county democratic party. She gave speeches all over her county and the state and personally met with numerous politicians including Kerry, Obama, State politicians like Terry Goddard and others. As she went around from place to place she was surprised how many cities did not have laws protecting LGBT people and made no bones about pointing out to these people why they should have them. She said to them, “Are we friends?”, “Do you think my children should be allowed to be verbally or physically abused or denied access to the rights everyone else has?”. They of course would say yes and then no. She would then point out how these laws are needed because they protect her children and the friends, family, children and relatives of thousands and millions in this country.

In the end it is all about love. We just need to remind people of that, just like my mother. I have campaigned for LGBT rights with my votes, my money, with my feet, with my voice, with my keyboard and emails, but the biggest changes came through the love of a mother and her children.

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