My story began a little over forty-seven years ago. I was born into a Catholic family in Albany, New York. My sense of heritage was quickly developed because of an extremely close relationship with my Irish-American maternal grandfather. Unfortunately, he passed away when I was only nine years old. He was critical in my early childhood development because of the volatile relationship that often existed at home between my parents. My grandfather seemed to be the one person that I could always rely on, who loved me without reservation, and would be there when I needed him. I loved him so very much, and wanted to be just like him when I grew up.

I remember Fr. O’Reilly standing behind his large desk, pushing himself upright on fingers splayed out on the green blotter, imposing even without the stark, black cassock. He seemed to be so very tall, as most grown men are to a five year old. “Why are you here?” he asked in a not unkind voice. “I disobeyed Mother Superior,” I mumbled, quickly averting my eyes to the floor. “Yes, but why?” he pressed. “I wanted to play with the girls.” I said. “But you are not a girl,” he said, “and you should be thankful God chose to make you a boy. It is much better to be a boy and you should do as Mother Superior says and play with the boys.” “I don’t want to play with the boys. They make fun of me and I don’t like their games,” I cried. “You must play with the other boys. That is how you will learn to be the man God wants you to be.” “No, I will not be a man!”