This book will always hold a special place in my heart. I am the proud mama bear of a queer teenager. Although the character of Theresa is very different from me, I have shared some of the same thoughts and feelings with her that are written in these pages. I was raised Catholic, graduated from Catholic schools, and was time and time again indoctrinated with bible teachings that homosexuality was an abomination and against God. As I got older, I broke away from the Catholic church and began to question my beliefs, and when the stories of rampant sexual abuse surfaced, I was done with organized religion.
As a parent, you want your child to love and be loved, but when society has rules about who that person can be, it opens up a whole host of fears in your heart. I was always accepting, but in the most secret chamber of my heart that I am not proud to admit exists, I hoped my children would be spared this reality. I feared it would make their lives harder, make them targets for hate in an already hateful world.
It’s been a journey to understanding and re-learning who this person is that I thought I knew intimately as their mother. I struggled and continue to struggle with the pronouns, but my child gives me grace. It is more about the effort I am making to see them and acknowledge them in their most authentic form, which with teenagers can fluctuate daily. I am working to give them space to wonder, to question, and to discover themselves. To be completely honest, it hasn’t always been a journey I have understood, but it has taught me some valuable lessons about myself as it did Theresa.
I’m learning it isn’t about me. It’s about giving my child the space to step into their truth. It is giving them the freedom of expression and the acceptance to love in the way that calls to their heart. In my estimation, that is the true measuring stick of success as a mother. If my child is happy and content living a life that makes them feel fulfilled, then I consider it a job well done.
When an LGBTQ+ child has one parent as an ally, the suicide rate goes from 41% down to 6%. I first heard this statistic while researching for this book, and it was a pivotal moment in my own life. When you think about it like that, using the pronouns and loving the child you were given wholeheartedly becomes easier. It is truly a life-or-death situation.
I was terrified when I stumbled upon the Wikipedia page on hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community. The scene in the book was a real moment ripped from my real life. I vividly remember being physically sick, reading painful accounts of hate that seemed to scroll on forever. The catalog of hate crimes carried out against one of the most marginalized groups in existence was hard to stomach, and I sobbed for loss after loss recorded in those pages. These victims were someone’s children. As a mother, it crushes my soul to see those precious lives destroyed for nothing.
I hope the ultimate takeaway of the book is a peaceful one. I hope it resonates with mothers and fathers and turns more parents into allies because that is what these kids need more than anything.
A special thank you to Brooke, who read this book in its early stages and gave me much food for thought. Your insight has been valuable in my writing process and has made my books better in every measurable way. I appreciate you. I also need to thank my incredible editor, Kendra. She polishes my books until they shine. I don’t know how to use a comma properly, but she always makes me look like I do. It’s been almost three years now, and I am grateful for you.
I will leave you with this: Love one another. Three little words. That’s all we need to do, yet we can fail at it so miserably. Love one another anyway.
Blair Bryan (aka Ninya)