The story of Jeanne Manford and the baton she passed to me.
I sit at the far end of the semi-circle of tables and chairs. We are gathered in a small meeting room at the back of a pizzeria. The room doubles as a space for both group gatherings and birthday party bashes. As I take my seat, I smell the faint waft of red marinara sauce mixed with mozzarella cheese. Unmistakingly the aroma of pizza.
The man on my right is enjoying a lovely amber ale and the woman on my left greets me with a very warm smile. She is holding a stuffed turtle in her hand. As always in these new situations, I am feeling awkward and momentarily consider bolting for the door.
But then the meeting begins. The seats around the table fill up. The woman next to me holds up the turtle, using it as a talking stick item as she opens the meeting. Whoever is holding the turtle is the one who gets to speak.
Eventually, the turtle makes its way around the room and finds me. I hold it for a second feeling the plush fabric nervously with my fingers before I say, Hello, my name is MaryRose. I use the she/her pronouns. My reasons for being here are my kids. My son is transgender and my daughter identifies as Bi. I am here to find community and to deepen my learning.
I feel a hand on my left arm. I turn to the woman sitting next to me who is not just warmly smiling but beaming! Oh, you are doubly blessed, she says, looking me in the eyes. Welcome to PFLAG.