Cathy Renna

Cathy Renna: Then and Now

Filed By Cathy Renna | May 08, 2009 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: before and after pictures, growing up, growing up queer, then and now



  1. I willingly wore a dress. This changed after age 7.
  2. I made funny faces in all photos.
  3. My parents grudgingly bought all new toys for me when I rejected my sisters hand me down like Barbies. Although I did have my GI Joe (realistic lifelike hair!) kidnap the Barbies on occasion.
  4. I began playing baseball little league with boys and pursued that until I was summarily forced to play softball with the girls. I became less interested in the sport but liked my teammates, well, better.
  5. I am sure I was the only third grader to ask for a microscope and animals to dissect for Christmas - and got them.
  6. My lesbian aunt became a major obsession for me and whenever they came to visit I went like a bat out of hell on my bike to see them at my Uncle's house. This is when my parents started to suspect I was more than a tomboy.
  7. I was allowed a canary - and that was a concession - as a pet. My parents hate animals in the house and I once caught hell for bringing the class turtle home for Christmas break without asking.
  8. Teen years were hellish in many ways but I was blessed with supportive family and teachers (many of them gay). They saved my life. The lesbian aunt helped too.
  9. I spent summers in Italy, on a Vespa, on the beach and generally in heaven since girls (and boys) walked holding hands and arm in arm. La dolce vita.
  10. I was surrounded by boys in high school. One evening, when I asked my Dad if he always knew I was a lesbian, he replied " in high school, when I let you get into a van full of boys and you said you were going bowling, I let you, right? Did I let you sister do that?" 'Nuff said.



  1. My clothing choices are very specific. "What would a gay man wear?" when working, "what would a 17 year old skateboarder wear" on weekends. Let's say there is no green velvet in my closet now.
  2. I still make funny faces, but not in pictures that will go on the Associated Press wire service.
  3. I play with Princess dolls and even dress up - but my daughter lets me be their prince because "Mommy dresses like a boy but does not have a penis." The religious right cannot figure us out but a toddler seems to get it.
  4. I still reserve the right to buy toys (of all kinds) for myself. I have grown up but am very in touch with my inner child.
  5. My introduction to the LGBT movement was a panel on Lesbian Invisibility in the Media. If it was not for Leah I would not have gone. I got sucked in like Hoover.
  6. The 90's are a blur, I need to write a memoir. Being at the center of nearly every major LGBT event or issue was often overwhelming but always exhilarating. I took a lot of pictures.
  7. 9/11 was a turning point in my life. It made me realize my priorities and around that time a higher power brought Leah back into my life.
  8. I got married in an amazing ceremony and it was the absolutely happiest day of my life, until...
  9. Rosemary. No need to say more.
  10. After 20 years of fighting the good fight here we are, in the shadow of the White House, a proud American family.

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Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

Thank you so much! I am loving this series.

Me, too! The personal glimpses are fascinating and give me such warm feelings for the writers.

Bilerico seems so friendly now. Not that it wasn't before (of course it was), but now it seems as if the contributors are our friends. I like that. :)

> "What would a gay man wear?" when working, "what would a 17 > year old skateboarder wear" on weekends.


Brava! This series was a great idea.

Paige Listerud | May 9, 2009 12:40 AM

You were an adorable kid and now you and your spouse are raising an adorable kid. Perfect!

brought Leah back into your life? How did you lose her the first time? The two of you look like you've always been together!