Address given by Dr. Ellen Cohen
September 29th, 2001:
Dedication of the Pride Street Banner
Last year I delayed my trip up North to care for my mother until after
I finished my job as a member of the parade committee and attended Pride.
My mother told me that what I was doing was important and that she could
wait. When I visited her again at the end of that year she lay dying of
cancer. She responded to my frustration about how to raise money for
this year's Pride by saying that she would write a check for couple of
hundred dollars because " families should support their children, their
brothers, their sisters". My mother never got to write that check, because
she died not long after that.
Everyone was always welcome in my parents' home, and my parents' were
always active in protecting the rights and providing for the needs of
others. My mother's response to my coming out was first " that makes
sense" and second, "do you have someone who loves you?" My partner
was always introduced as her daughter-in-law and my mother's visible
sign of support was a rainbow sticker on her car. One of her favorite
stories was of the day that my niece's friends came upon the car and
asked in awe if her grandmother was a lesbian.
When my mother was ill the car was borrowed and the rainbow sticker was
removed. The rabbi had nothing to say at the funeral about this part
of my mother's life. The very reason we are here today collapsed in
on my relationship with my mother when she was no longer there. So when
the opportunity came, I bought, on her behalf and to honor her, the biggest,
most permanent rainbow sticker I could find: the permanent banner for the
Pride Committee of North Carolina.
I hope that each time it hangs over an event, it will speak for my mother
and say to those who attend, that families should support their children,
their brothers, their sisters, and that some families...some people...have
the open hearts to support us all.