She was a housewife; she was a mother. She was raising her children like all mothers do. But then, in 1974, back in the days when being gay was considered a mental illness, Adele Starr’s son came out, and everything changed.
For the better.
See, even though, back in the 70s, and before that, and, sadly, still today, parents often blame themselves when a son or daughter comes out as gay, or even bisexual or transgender. There’s a lot of speculating about what was done ‘wrong’ to make their child so very different. But Adele Starr wasn’t having that.
Instead, Adele Starr founded a new group in Los Angeles, a support group, for parents of gay children, friends of gay people. Her group became known as PFLAG [Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays] and she was that group’s first national president.
Adele Starr, that mother for all gay men and women whose own mothers pushed them away, died last Friday night in Santa Monica at age ninety.
It was just two years after her son came out to her that Adele Starr founded the group, then known as Parent FLAG, and now as PFLAG, a gay rights and acceptance organization. And Adele worked hard for the group, even speaking on the steps of the US Capitol, way back in 1979, at a march for gay rights. Two years later she became PFLAG’s first national president, serving in that position until 1986. After that she continued to work for gay rights, marriage rights, equal rights.
We have our gay heroes, whose names we all remember, but sometimes we forget our straight allies who have marched with us and fought with us, along the way.
So, take just a moment, today, to bid farewell to Adele Starr and thank her for being a mother to those of us who may have lost ours the day we said those three words.
“Mom, I’m gay.”