Acceptance Over a Chain Link Fence

04/12/2015 05:00 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Yesterday, I blew the mind of the 85-year-old Mexican great-grandmother who lives next door to my office here in Dallas...and reinforced to me the importance of being out.

Since I moved my PR firm into a cottage in the gentrifying Bishop Arts District, I've talked to her over a chain link fence at least a few times a week. She knows my kids and our (late) dogs. My kids know her and love her dachshund, Red. I know about her parents immigrating to the U.S.A. and about her four grown children. The conversations are neighborly sidewalk chats -- nothing particularly "deep" about them, but always enjoyable.

For whatever reason, while I was swinging by the office with the kids to do something I'd forgotten, she asked about my wife. I told her I'm gay and have a husband. She asked "Is your wife gay too?" (LOL!)

I explained to her that I don't have a wife, and she asked confusedly, "Why did they let people like you have kids?" I told her "Because they needed homes and might not have a family otherwise."

She verbally stumbled a bit and said a few things I chose not to hear -- old people talk about modern social issues ("you people"), which I took in the kind spirit and positive intention of her comments, not actual words spoken.

Finally she said, "I think I like you more now than I did before. You can't control who you are, only what you choose to do, and I like what you're doing with these kids."

I simply said "Thank you," and then had to pretend the kids needed my attention for a minute to hold myself together.

That moment is exactly why I live my life so matter-of-factly and openly.