a lesbian/feminist publication houston, texas IZ^^/h
vol. II no. 3 march 1976 DvJM-
"My Son Was Embarrassed../'
Lesbian Mother's Plight
In December, 1975, a Dallas jury--charged with finding Mary Jo Risher an unfit
mother--did so in a 10-2 decision. As a result, Mary Jo, a self-avowed lesbian, lost
custody of her nine-year-old adopted son, Richard. The testimony of her 17-year-old
son, Jimmy, was damaging enough to outweigh all the testimony offered in Mary Jo's behalf by expert witnesses. Jimmy declared himself embarrassed by his mother's lesbianism and pleaded with the jury to remove his little brother from his mother's home.
The following is based on notes written during a telephone interview with Mary
Jo Risher and Ann Foreman on Saturday, February 7, 1976.
Jimmy had overheard a conversation between me and my mother, and he came to me
and asked if I would answer a question. I've always tried for an honest relationship
between us, and I said yes. He said, Are you a lesbian? I said, Do you really want
the answer to that question? And he said yes so I said yes.
Everything seemed to be all right then, but later he told the psychologists that
everything was okay in the family until Ann moved in. He liked Ann, they talked a lot.
But maybe he was jealous of her.
Anyway, Jimmy called from my mother's house in September, 1974, and told me he
had a car. He'd been begging for a car, and I hadn't been able to get him one. I'd
asked his father (Doug Risher) about buying a car for Jimmy, but he'd said no. Now
suddenly Jimmy had a car, and he began living with my mother at that point, but we
continued to have a good relationship. He would call Ann about things
Then I got a subpoena from the sheriff and in October, 1974, we had a preliminary
hearing about removing the boys immediately. At that time the Judge said for the boys
to stay with me, and he sent the car back to Jimmy's father. Between that time and
September, 1975, Jimmy lived with my mother and then later with his Grandmother Risher.
He didn't want to live with his father; but North Mesquite High School found out that
he wasn't living with either of his parents and told him he had to live with one or the
other. So in September, 1975, he went to live with his father, and he hasn't spoken
to me or any of my family since then. I've only seen him in court.
He was embarrassed by me, he told the jury. Well, what teenager is not embarrassed
about his parents—anything ... the way they talk, the way they look, anything. I was
embarrassed by my parents too. I don't think the jury took that sort of thing into account.
cont. on page 14