I've been an a gay activist since 1981 and an AIDS activist since 1983. I have been a proponent of the separation of Church and state since my 5th grade American history class where we learned that the United States of America was founded by people seeking freedom from religious oppression (even if some of their descendants became the new oppressors.)
Over the years, I have had to learn to be tolerant of other peoples differences. Granted, it didn't happen all at once. I had to meet openly gay people in order to understand and accept them (not to mention become one of them!) I had to meet and to become friends with some drag queens and female impersonators before I could accept the idea of their lifestyle. Yes, Hellen is a reformed drag-a-phobe! After learning to accept drag queens other lifestyles seemed easy, from different religions, leather, S&M, dominatrix, transgender folks even the French! ...Just kidding, my daughter GiGi is French.
I'm very happy in my chosen life, though that hasn't always that way. My childhood seemed dark and melodramatic, I kind of felt like I was Marlene Detrick trapped in a 10 year old boy's body! At some point, I just said 'to hell with it, I'm tired of feeling negative about myself and if god and my parents don't like who I am too frickin bad!' That's when I started to take charge of my own life. From then on things started heading inorexerable toward becoming a Sister of Perpetual of Indulgence, sort of a scary "white-faced manifest destiny..."
It still amazes me to think how much I would have freaked out if I had met someone like Hellen when I was 8 or 9. Even after 25+ years it still a little disconcerting to see a 'clown goddess' staring back from the mirror as I make my final wimple adjustment before scurrying out the door to a charity event. Oh well; if I had wanted a comfortable existence, I should have taken up philately in Philadelphia rather than the Sisters in San Francisco.