I grew up in Park Forest, next door to the Lanktons. I knew Greer when she was Greg, the sweet, gentle boy-nextdoor, who was always ready and willing to help out with any problem. I remember running over to the Lankton's house one day when I was home alone and had received a frightening prank call, and how caring and comforting Cathy and Greg were.
When Greg became Greer, my fundamentalist family was shocked and horrified. I, however, was secretly amazed and thrilled for her courage. I had yet to come out as a lesbian, and my family was blissfully unaware of my orientation. I remember spending some time with Greer when her sister, Cathy, was married in the backyard of their parents' home. I embroidered some pillow cases for Cathy, and Greer and I spent the afternoon in the kitchen, washing dishes for the ongoing party in the backyard.
I knew that Greer had become a successful artist, but had completely lost track of her and her family until just this past week, having moved to California about 18 years ago. I thought of her and of Bill and Lynn regularly, though, because of what happened when I came out. My parents still lived in the house next door to the Lanktons, and my parents, terribly upset about learning that I was gay, and knowing about Greer, went to talk with Bill and Lynn about me, and what they should "do" about me.
Bill and Lynn sat them down and very kindly listened and comforted them, and then told them that they should accept me and love me as the person God created me to be.
My mother did not take their advice, but I will be forever grateful to them for offering it.
As I said, I think of them often, because I tell people this story when I discuss the events surrounding my "coming out." I was having an online discussion this week about transgendered/transsexual people and I thought about Greer and decided to look her up on the internet. That is when I learned of her death. I am so terribly, terribly sad both to know that she is gone, and to learn how much she suffered over the years. She was three years older than me, and I idolized her when she was the boy next door, and again when I met her as the woman she grew up to be.
The emails Chloey posted are very consistent with my memories of Bill and Lynn, and of Greer herself. I got back in touch with Lynn after learning of Greer's death, and her love and appreciation for Greer were clear throughout our conversation.
I'm grateful for having known Greer and her family, and my heart goes out to Jo-Jo and Paul and Greer's family and all who suffer from the loss of her.