04/06/2012 05:48 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

True LGBTQ Stories: Ronnie Kroell's Grandma Says to Love Your Gay Son or She'll 'Whip You Over the Head' with Her Cane

I'm From Driftwood is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit forum for true lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer stories. Earlier this year, founder and Executive Director Nathan Manske and two companions successfully completed a four-month, 50-state Story Tour collecting LGBTQ stories from towns and cities across the country. They're pulling some of the most relevant, important, and sometimes just enjoyable stories from their archives and sharing them with HuffPost Gay Voices.

Former Make Me a Supermodel contestant Ronnie Kroell was 15 years old when he was having a romantic evening with a boyfriend in his backyard at home:

It was a beautiful night in Chicago. It was gorgeous, the stars were out, and I said to my boyfriend, "Why don't we go lay out in the back? We'll put a blanket out, and we'll have a romantic evening and just enjoy each other."

The still-closeted Kroell's picturesque evening soon took a turn for the worse:

And, so, one thing led to another, we were cuddling and just kissing and gazing into each other's eyes, if you will, and the next thing I know all I hear is my trembling mother's voice saying, "So. You're gay."

After throwing his boyfriend off of him, claiming to be bisexual and that "it's just a phase," and engaging in a shouting match with his mother, Ronnie and his mother walked into the house to find their unlikely savior:

My grandmother was living with us at the time, because she had a massive heart attack the year prior, so she was very sick: 78 years old, walking with a cane, sleeping in our spare bedroom. And of course at 3 in the morning, she hears shouting, and she's trying to figure out what's going on, but she knows what's going on. So she comes out of the bedroom and looks at my mother and says, "Charlene, I'm gonna whip you over the head with this cane if you don't just love your son the way he is."


Submit your own story at

Subscribe to the Queer Voices email.
Get all of the queer news that matters to you.