Wednesday, December 2, 2009

United Nations International School and a bonus


Monday morning, upon my return from the holiday week, I did one of the best school presentations I've been a part of with PFLAG NYC Safe Schools Program. The United Nations International School is an incredible school of diverse students who are truly ahead of the game. Because of their rich blend of ethnicity, race and religion, they have a level of acceptance and celebration of differences that is admirable and inspiring.

On top of that, I was honored to be speaking with Kate Hathaway, a proud mother of 3 children: a writer, an actress, and a college student, one of whom is gay. We shared our stories of our family members who have come out and brought attention to the normalcy of my sister and her son - that coming out did not change WHO they are. We emphasized that this is not a choice and were able to expand on that when asked "Is there such a thing as a gay gene?" We discussed how different cultures dealt with homosexuality as the 9th grade students shared insight into their communities in the Middle East, Kuwait for example. We told about our emotions of pride and love, but also tears of sadness, never wanting to see someone you love struggle for the rights that PEOPLE should naturally have. We congratulated these students and their mentor Dennis Lacey for building their GSA program. On their website, the executive director, Stuart Walker, writes, "Additionally, the school seeks to prepare students for the leadership that this world so urgently needs." So I thanked these kids for being the leaders who embrace diversity and challenged them to continue that, outwardly accepting diversity in matters of sexual orientation and gender identity as well.

Even at the end, when Kate revealed that her son Michael, the writer, who was an assistant to a film star...Anne Hathaway, his sister---aha! get it? They were excited and anxious, but immediately got back into the discussion asking about the "gay gene." The amount of focus and respect that these kids had was just amazing. This was the best experience I have had speaking at a school and I definitely want to make a yearly habit of it.

The Hathaways have made a big impact with PFLAG, but especially other LGBT organizations, namely the Empire State Pride Agenda. In my Equality and Justice Day blog post, I explain meeting this family for the first time. They are true leaders in this fight who strongly stand up for marriage equality, especially in the state of New York. They are also a family who humanizes this fight and fame simultaneously. For this, they were honored at the Empire State Pride Agenda 2009 Dinner. Their incredible speeches are below. In Mr. Hathaway's speech you will also hear a bit of the story that I witnessed Kate tell at UNIS...a coming out story about pride and love.

Anne Hathaway

Gerald Hathaway


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