Lesbros: Michael Cooney


The trusty website UrbanDictionary.com has several definitions for the term lesbro:

1. A man who has more friendships with lesbians than other women or men.

2. The male equivalent of a fag hag.

3. A heterosexual man who is either one or both of the following: a brother to one or more lesbian sisters, or, friends with a disproportionate amount of homosexual women. “Wow, your brother really only hangs out with gay girls, doesn’t he! And you’re a big gay yourself, sister! What a lesbro you’ve got there!”

To us, a lesbro is a little bit of all, but at his core, a lesbro is a male friend to at least one, but possibly several, lesbians. This column shares a little bit about some famous lesbros that we love.

This week: Michael Cooney.

Photos by Lindsey Byrnes

Michael Cooney is the founder and president of Team Diversity Media, a Hollywood-based production company, exclusively owned and operated by disabled filmmakers. Michael writes about growing up with cerebral palsy in his upcoming memoir, Walking In My Sleep.

AfterEllen.com: Of the above three definitions of lesbro, which do you think describes you best?

Michael Cooney:
The definition of lesbro that is fits me best is the third one. My mom, several other members of my extended family and many of my friends are lesbians. I was raised by lesbians, and I’ve been around them for my entire life. Lesbian relationships are pretty normal day-to-day stuff for me.

AE: How did your mom come out to you?

I was 10 years old when my mom came out to me. She had a girlfriend who hung out with us a lot, and I liked her. So I was already kind of hip to what was going on. I remember my mom sat me down at the dining room table, and she had this big talk planned. She starting by saying, “I really like girls. And I’m going to date them.” According my mom I said, “OK, I really like girls, too! Can I go play now?”

AE: Do you feel in any way that your mom being a lesbian has affected the way you look at relationships?

I think that my mom being a lesbian has deeply affected my idea of relationships in several ways. For most of my life, my parents were my mom and her wife. I never knew my father. He never wanted anything to do with me. It took my mom a very long time to find a person who truly loved her, and who truly loved me as well. I was a freshman in high school when my mother met Ellen, the woman who would eventually become her wife. I was going through a very difficult time in my life, and Ellen and I immediately became very close. I made it through high school because of Ellen. We have a very deep bond. She is my parent, as much as my mom. Also having been raised by lesbians has made me very close to woman in general. Often I feel much more comfortable around woman than I do around other guys.

AE: What stereotype about lesbians have you found to be false?

There are two stereotypes about lesbian that I feel are very much false: that “lesbians don’t like men” and that “lesbians are not attractive.” I have found that some of the most beautiful woman I have ever known also happened to be gay. For my entire life I have been deeply cared for and loved by women who were lesbians, and that’s not including my mom. The longest, and most emotionally intimate relationship of my life has been with a woman who I known for 17 years. We have always loved each other, and often spoke of marriage. Then about 10 years ago she came out. We are still as close as we have ever been, and she is as beautiful to me as ever.

AE: You were born with cerebral palsy and have written a book about living with a disability, which I am very excited to read. Can you tell me a bit about the book? Do you talk about your mother at all? Do you write about growing up with a lesbian mom?

It’s my first book, Walking in My Sleep: True Stories of Disabilities, Independence, Love, Redemption, and Rock ‘n Roll. I am very excited about it! I was one of the first disabled kids in the country to be integrated into a typical classroom, in non-disabled world. The book is about my experiences. But, more importantly, it is for anyone who ever felt different, and like they didn’t fit in. When I was little I was convinced that I was an alien from another planet. I had been told that would not be able to do things because I had disability. The book is for anyone who ever had to overcome obstacles to reach their dreams. It’s about learning to love yourself for being just who you are. And it’s really funny. (I hope!)

My mom is a constant presence throughout the book. I didn’t write specifically about her being a lesbian. Honestly, I never thought it was that big of a deal. But my mom is a very strong person, and she has always lived life on her own terms. My parents taught me to never be ashamed of who I am.

AE: When you were integrated into the mainstream classroom, did you experience any backlash from kids because you had two moms?

Well, it took a while for people to actually meet my mom. I didn’t have many friends at first. The other kids were mostly interested in beating me up. When I finally did make friends, though, my mom was like the favorite parent. She was very open and understanding about stuff. A lot of my friends would say, “You’re mom is so cool! I wish she was my mom. You’re lucky.” So, when I would say, “Oh, and by the way, my mom is gay,” most of my friends wouldn’t have a problem, because she was “the cool mom.” There were a few kids who said things like “Your mom is weird, and she’s going to burn in hell.” But they weren’t invited back to our house.

AE: Can you tell us a bit about your production company and what it is like to run a business and employ people with disabilities?

Team Diversity Media is a full service production house, owned and operated by people with disabilities. Our mission is to build bridges between all kinds of people, to begin breaking down stereotypes, and provide people with a voice. Whether someone is black, white, brown, gay, straight, able-bodied, or disabled, we all want to be happy, and loved. When I was in high school I was alone almost all the time, and people called me “weird.” I felt isolated and ashamed because I was different. I thought a lot about committing suicide. I never want anyone to feel that way, and I can help. Team Diversity Media exists in order to celebrate the beauty of being different.

AE: What was your inspiration for writing your book?

Actually, the book came about kind of by accident. I never set out to be a writer. For most of my life I desperately wanted to be a musician. My head has always been full of guitars and drums. But unfortunately my body never physically cooperated with my head. So, I started writing about music. And when I sat down to write the book, it came out like music. I mean, the sentences have a certain rhythm to them. And the structure of each chapter was sort of inspired by a certain musician, or piece of music. I have always loved David Bowie, George Harrison, The Pixies and Jeff Buckley. When I was little, I thought I was Elvis. So, it’s almost like the stories in the book come with a soundtrack. It was as close to an album as I could get. My job as a writer is to take the reader on an exciting journey to interesting places. And I think this book does that. It is being published through Team Diversity Media. And there will be more books, and more writers to come.

For more on Michael and his work, visit teamdiversitymedia.com.

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