For every coming out horror story of a black LGBT person there is always a few that challenge the perception that blacks are more homophobic and are likely to reject and or disown a person once it's discovered that they're LGBT. In the case of Bonita Spikes and her transgender daughter Michelle, her difference and a devastating hate crime attack drew them closer.
Bonita Spikes shares the story of her biological son Michael's transition and her unconditional love and support for the woman she has become.
An excerpt via The Grio.com:
In Prince Georges County, Maryland where we live, we have a diverse group of friends so the idea of having a gay son didn't scare or shock us. Sure, we feared he had a hard road ahead of him - being bullied at school, getting fired from his job for being gay and facing the possibility that he may never be able to be legally married - but with our love, we knew he was going to be okay.
When Michael turned 16, he told us that he wasn't a gay man. Instead, he was a transgender woman named Michelle who had been dressing as a woman when he left the house. At that point, my husband and I both realized that this was a big deal. My son was now my daughter.
Even though I am an activist and somewhat liberal, I didn't know what being transgender meant. After doing some serious soul searching, my husband and I concluded that our child needed us. Unlike too many of her friends whose parents had kicked them out for being gay or transgender, we were going to open our minds even further than what we thought was possible. It was difficult. But we started going to family therapy and things were slowly getting better.
But everything changed in December 1999, the day my daughter Michelle became the target of a hate crime.
While standing in line with her friends at a club in Atlanta, Michelle was struck in the head with a metal pipe by a stranger who did not like the fact that she was a transgender woman. She fell to the ground and her skull split open.
The doctors weren't very hopeful - they didn't think she was going to make it. As she lay there unconscious, she was unrecognizable. Her head was shaved, there was a V-shaped scar down the side of her face, and she was bruised and swollen.
I was fully aware of the homophobia that haunts our community. However, it was not until my child was beaten and left for dead did I ever truly believe that having the courage to be true to oneself could result in being killed.
From one parent to another, more work needs to be done to protect our children regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity. We are all products of God and deserve to live, be loved and have peace of mind.
To read the piece in it's entirety click here. If you're brave enough to venture into the comment section on The Grio.com you might want to prepare yourself for the usual "Christian gay/trans bashing". Bonita Spikes definitely deserves the mother of the year award.