When he saw his son kiss a boy, I thought he'd be mad. He completely surprised me.

You know those moments that just seem like something out of a movie?

You know the ones — when you're expecting an uplifting song to start playing right at the climax of a tearjerking scene, which you happen to be seeing live before your eyes? Well, I just witnessed an Oscar-worthy performance.

This weekend as I sat in Starbucks, writing — I know, it doesn't get much more cliché than that — I noticed a man and his son walk into the coffee shop. My gaydar immediately informed me that I was in the presence of my own kind.


Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images.

The boy was very handsome: With a Gaga shirt and rolled-up jeans, he looked to be around 16. A man who appeared to be his father — who could only be described as a man's man — accompanied him. Large and intimidating in stature, his father wore a camouflaged shirt and some rather dirty jeans.

A moment later, another young boy about the same age came into the shop. He walked over to the first boy and gave him a loving hug.

The father sternly nodded his head at the boy in a rather macho display of a greeting.

"Uh oh," I thought. This didn't look to be the kind of guy that would be incredibly happy about having an openly gay son.

The boys walked up to the counter to order their overpriced lattes, and the father stepped in to pay.

After getting their drinks and sitting down, the father said to the boys, "You guys be good" and gave them both handshakes (I told you he was a man's man). He told his son to call him when he was ready to be picked up, and walked out of the store. Facing the front door, I saw the father stop at the window of the storefront. With their backs turned to the door, unaware that dad was still watching, the boys leaned in for a kiss.

To my surprise, the father's reaction was that of a beaming smile. His son was in love, and it didn't matter that it happened to be with a boy.

Photo by Lhin Nguyen/Flickr.

Inside, I was a basket case. I held it together in public, but I really wanted to cry at the beautiful moment I had just witnessed.

But then it hit me: I had just judged someone. I had instantly assumed that because this man fit a certain stereotype, he was against equality and there was no way he could possibly approve of his son's sexuality.

It's easy to become cynical and jaded, especially when it seems that we are all too often faced with devastating stories like that of Leelah Alcorn, who took her life because of the rejection she faced from her parents after coming out as trans.

We can't forget that there are people doing better than we sometimes give them credit for.

I myself was met with rejection from much of my conservative family because of my sexuality, which has taken me years to overcome. But it occurred to me that for a group that often faces so much judgment, people in the LGBT community can be quite judgmental ourselves. We can sometimes jump to the assumption that people hate us for our identity — and many people certainly do — but we can't forget that there are people doing better than we sometimes give them credit for.

For every story of a person writing "faggot" on the door of a gay couple, there is one of a father smiling while watching his gay teen son openly embrace a boy he cares for.

For every horrible coming-out story, there is the story of a family that meets their loved ones with support and acceptance.

We certainly shouldn't undermine the struggles our community faces. We shouldn't only show the good and ignore the bad. We shouldn't stop fighting for equity just because we've received it for some.

But now, on those bad days when it seems like the odds are stacked against us, I can think back on the scene I witnessed at Starbucks — a scene of love and acceptance from an unexpected source — and have a reason to smile.

Photo courtesy of Justin Sather
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While most 10-year-olds are playing Minecraft, riding bikes, or watching YouTube videos, Justin Sather is intent on saving the planet. And it all started with a frog blanket when he was a baby.

"He carried it everywhere," Justin's mom tells us. "He had frog everything, even a frog-themed birthday party."

In kindergarten, Justin learned that frogs are an indicator species – animals, plants, or microorganisms used to monitor drastic changes in our environment. With nearly one-third of frog species on the verge of extinction due to pollution, pesticides, contaminated water, and habitat destruction, Justin realized that his little amphibian friends had something important to say.

"The frogs are telling us the planet needs our help," says Justin.

While it was his love of frogs that led him to understand how important the species are to our ecosystem, it wasn't until he read the children's book What Do You Do With An Idea by Kobi Yamada that Justin-the-activist was born.

Inspired by the book and with his mother's help, he set out on a mission to raise funds for frog habitats by selling toy frogs in his Los Angeles neighborhood. But it was his frog art which incorporated scientific facts that caught people's attention. Justin's message spread from neighbor to neighbor and through social media; so much so that he was able to raise $2,000 for the non-profit Save The Frogs.

And while many kids might have their 8th birthday party at a laser tag center or a waterslide park, Justin invited his friends to the Ballona wetlands ecological preserve to pick invasive weeds and discuss the harms of plastic pollution.

Justin's determination to save the frogs and help the planet got a massive boost when he met legendary conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall.

Photo courtesy of Justin Sather

At one of her Roots and Shoots youth initiative events, Dr. Goodall was so impressed with Justin's enthusiasm for helping frogs, she challenged the young activist to take it one step further and focus on plastic pollution as well. Justin accepted her challenge and soon after was featured in an issue of Bravery Magazine dedicated to Jane Goodall.

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Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

As it turns out, underdog stories can have cats as the main character.

Purrington Cat Lounge, where "adoptable cats roam freely and await your visit" and patrons can pay a small entry fee for the chance to sip coffee alongside feline friends, boasted legendary adoption rates since its conception in January 2015.


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