A t-shirt slogan—"I love my trailblazing, woman-loving, out and proud grandma"—is proof: A growing demographic of gay couples who had kids in the 1970s are now grandparents. Gay-rights groups tell the Philadelphia Inquirer that such role models show kids how the world can change. "People with LGBT grandparents learn a broader view of how people can love," says one official.
Yet some fear coming out will hurt their relationship with the grandkids, and others find their own children demanding they keep the "lesbian issue" quiet. After Marian Mitchell's longtime partner died in 1997, the 55-year-old decided to come out to everyone. "I never imagined being able to live so openly," says Mitchell, who now fields questions like, "Mom-mom, what does LGBT mean?"