“I was very lucky to have had Henny as a role model for myself. Henny was an unmarried woman teaching at a Jesuit School I attended in the late 1960s when she gave birth to her child. At the time that was really very unusual. But she was such a wise and brilliant teacher, and so popular, like a mother figure to many of her students. Despite of all the Jesuit rules she stayed teaching at our school. Years later, I learned she also came out as a lesbian. Because she dared to be different, we all loved and celebrated her. Everyone did, even the priests. She encouraged everyone to be more open-minded just by being herself. I often think about the impact she had on so many lives, mine included. I feel grateful that I had the chance to be near her. It’s a good reminder for me about how important it is to have inspiring role models, and the need for proper education about homosexuality at a young age for everybody. 

When I started volunteering in the gay community at the age of 24, I discovered that the focus of gay activism was mainly negative and that it was centered on the problems and suffering around being gay. I knew that was true for a lot of us, but thanks to Henny I could feel that there were also many other aspects of being gay that needed to be celebrated. So I set up a theater café within the COC gay organization using performing arts such as poetry, cabaret and even puppetry to share stories and celebrate and support gay identity. I also became manager of a gay theatre group that performed a strong content variety show all over the country. I can still see the faces of the audiences being moved in so many different ways on so many different levels being connected to the subject of homosexuality.

I hope I can be a kind of role model for the next generation. I want to celebrate the beautiful variations of human beings and share about how important diversity is for everybody. It’s not just important to gays and lesbians. I see it as essential for everyone to be true to themselves. How else can you really breathe and function in life without being open about who you are?”

“Everything changed when I turned 37.”

“I hadn’t seen him for about a year, since I had come out to our family.”

“There’s no one way a gay person looks.”