TV talk show hosts don’t often make it to personal lists of role models. But Patricia Calfee Picache is indebted to one of the originals.
1988 was a big year for me. My mother came out as a lesbian, my parents divorced, and I moved to San Francisco for high school. This was one of the hardest chapters of my life, made more difficult because in our quiet suburban town, I did not know anybody who spoke kindly about gay people, let alone had a gay parent.
Recently, my seven-year old son asked me if I had a role model when I was young.
“Absolutely,” I said. “Phil Donahue.”
For many of us raised in the 1980s, “The Phil Donahue Show” is a familiar name. His talk show preceded Oprah and ruled the airwaves for a decade. It was a time when hatred toward gay and lesbian people marched, like a drumbeat, across our national airwaves and magazines and often seeped into our local conversations. When my mother shared her news that summer, all I knew was that lesbian and gay people had their funerals protested, their sick shunned, and their dignity belittled on a daily basis.