Free to Be Me - Nancy Zarriello

Home Free to Be Me - Nancy Zarriello
30 Jun 2019 9 nzarriello

Well here we go…My first step into uncharted territory.  Not gonna lie, I’m a little scared, actually terrified to take this leap.  But my sleepless nights with my unrelenting thoughts swirling around in my head need a platform to release onto. No more laying in bed practicing my 10 deep yoga breaths to help lull me to sleep or praying to a greater God to please let me sleep just a few winks or plugging into my downloaded meditation apps to relax my mind just long enough to slip into a deep slumber. Nope, I just have too much to say to not share it with all of you or even just one of you, if it helps or you can relate.  This blog is not meant to offend anyone and it is my hope that you can actually gain something from one of my posts, even if it’s just a smile or a connection to a point I make.  These are just my experiences and my words, wit, and wisdom surrounding these experiences. My thoughts come in waves and at times I feel manic and can’t control them or even stop obsessing over them, to a point where I physically exhaust myself.

So here we go, a little background for you.  I guess I’ve always been somewhat of a writer even though most of you won’t know that. It started with “The Shaggy Dog” written when I was a fifth grader. Then I had a poem published much later, that was written for my son when he first came into our family.  But most of my writing has really taken place in a more cathartic way.  When I hurt, I feel deeply and writing things down has always been my way of coping in a lot of difficult situations.

After years of struggling with infertility (that’s another whole post), I became a mom to both a biological child and an adopted child.  I have also spent the last 18 years as a Special Education teacher, which I will also address in future posts. Today, I want to focus on my most recent trip to Barnes & Noble.  You see, my adopted child is also gay.  Happy and well adjusted I might add, to no credit of mine.  He was born an old soul, who always lives in his truth.  He was so damn confident in who he was that he chose, against our advice, to “come out” in 6th grade.  Now as you can imagine, this only led to a torturous school experience from then on. I did everything I thought I should do, like enroll him in acting and dance classes (so stereotypical on my part) and even took him to PFLAG meetings, which weren’t even comfortable for him cause he was so young, but I was doing what I thought I should do to be a “good” and “supportive” mom. Well thank God he survived the bullying at school and “me” and is in college now.  But after watching him pack, during our recent move, and throwing everything in the trash from his earlier school years in order to shed himself of all his painful school memories, moved me into action.  Yes, he is lucky because he is living in a time when society is much more tolerant than ever before.  But still not enough…and of course when he “came out”, I made the grave error of asking him, “Are you sure?”  When was the last time someone asked you if you were sure about who you are?  How insulting and ignorant on my part.  But hey this is a learning process for me too.  So back to my Barnes & Noble visit.  I was in search of a children’s book addressing growing up gay.  Well after a few hours of perusing the shelves in the children’s section, I was unsuccessful and had to solicit the Bookseller for help.  Sheepishly I asked, “Do you carry any books on growing up gay?” (I’m still astounded and honestly a little ashamed of myself that I was so shy and quiet and kind of whispered the question!)  Was I secretly embarrassed? I’ve been telling myself how “cool” I am with it, all these years and yet I instinctually whispered that question.  Well that’s another conversation for a later date. The kind bookseller, who actually seemed more comfortable than me talking about it, did much research on the computer until she found “one” book that was on this issue.  It was buried in the parenting section along with the “how to” books on potty training, talking about death to a child, how to handle a difficult child, etc…this topic was lumped into the ‘difficulties of parenting’ genre.  Hmmm, didn’t really think  being gay was a parenting problem “thing”.  Not one picture book existed in the mainstream children’s section on this topic.  Really?!  Boy, could my son and his friends (or lack thereof) have used such a book years ago as a teaching tool to promote tolerance, acceptance, and that it’s ok to be different.

Well, I guess I will have to fill that void then and write one myself.  Stay tuned and please come on my journey and follow my process as I strive to meet this passionate goal of mine and get “Free to Be Me” published.

BTW, here is that “one” book I wanted to share with all of you.

Category: Children Book



Date: October 28, 2016 at 7:36 am


Nancy that was beautiful. I will share, share, share

Date: October 28, 2016 at 8:30 am


Thx Eva. Means a lot!

Victoria Slater

Date: October 28, 2016 at 11:52 am


From someone who is always on the receiving end of your loving compliments, may I say that you are also an extremely talented writer? Not that I’m surprised! Thank you for sharing your perspective on a very important topic, one that needs to be addressed not just by Americans but by the whole world. In Morocco it is illegal to be a homosexual, and gender roles are set in society. Nobody talks about their feelings and social emotional learning is nonexistent. Glad to see you working towards this cause and I’m excited to follow you on this journey.

Date: October 29, 2016 at 12:17 pm


Thank you for your kind words, Victoria. The Internet is really a wonderful and powerful tool when our blogs can actually cross borders and reach each other. I continue to enjoy following your insightful blogs and on some level your writings inspired me to start mine.

Charles martyniuk

Date: October 28, 2016 at 11:55 am


It was beautiful and thoughtful and almost made me cry you’ve done a good job nancy

Mrs. Brock's language arts' blog

Date: October 31, 2016 at 12:57 pm


How amazing Nancy, you are expressing what so many of us want to say, but do not have the courage to say.I feel a sense or poignancy on my part – I can’t wait to hear more … and I am going to share this with many of my friends.

Date: October 31, 2016 at 1:10 am


Thx Lianne, your support means the world to me.

Deanna Harry

Date: November 18, 2016 at 4:40 am


This post is incredible, so happy that I read it. I commend your honesty, and respect you so much. You’re a brilliant writer. You’re right in everything that you said, especially about there being a void of children’s books that convey real topics. I wrote a children’s book about rape and the “rape culture” of our society. I hid it deeply in an allegory, setting it in a mythological Arctic land and the characters were bears, but I still feared that it was too controversial, so I did nothing with it. We shouldn’t be afraid to talk about these topics, especially sexual preference. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any (consensual) sexual preferences. It is of nobody’s business who anyone else wants to love. Love is a part of life, and no love should ever be seen as wrong or even “taboo” or “different.” I learned as a child that girls like boys and boys like girls, and that there was nothing else to it. We were indirectly taught to be ashamed of sexuality and even any aspect of puberty. Dr. Seuss, though he was brilliant, teaches children about war but not about impending sexuality regarding preference and identity when that is what children are realistically going to be dealing with, before they ever think about going to or supporting a war. I’m so glad that you will be bringing light to these real topics that people keep in the dark for no legitimate reason. I am so excited to read your work! Please let me know when it’s finished! This could change the way that people view sexuality forever, as early childhood education is the most crucial part of education. The world really needs this, the world really needs you.

Date: November 18, 2016 at 1:31 am


Bravo Deanna. Well said. I am so proud of the strong and intelligent woman you are and how eloquently you express your thoughts. You too are standing up for something so vital, women’s empowerment and continue to be a perfect example of it. Thanks for your support. Comments like these justify what I am passionately trying to do. Please continue to follow. I am hoping a literary agent or publisher will be brave enough to take the risk and put my vision into print for children everywhere.