Diane Troy says she’s an “unconventional learner.” She tells me she’s dyslexic and an ADHD adult.
“I’m a fireball with all this energy,” she says.
And if you know Diane or have worked with her in the local community, you know she’s telling the absolute truth. Sit with Diane for a while in a PFLAG Charlotte meeting or as she’s helping to organize other events and activities, you’ll soon find out that her bubbly, positive energy is contagious — it’ll brighten your day and send you away from the meeting with a smile.
Originally from Kansas City, Mo., Diane, 59, made her way to the South and to Charlotte by way of South Jersey. She’s been in the area for 30 years, where she raised her son Michael, who attended local Catholic schools and is now in medical school in Chapel Hill, she tells me.
Diane recently made waves when she was sucked into controversy with the local Roman Catholic bishop, who prohibited PFLAG Charlotte and St. Peter Catholic Church from hosting an event on LGBT inclusion in faith communities. But in her time away from community work — where she first got involved to support other people like her own gay son — Diane’s life is as diverse and compelling as any other. We took a bit of time to chat with Diane to get to know her a bit better. Our Q&A is edited for clarity and length.
How do you find the energy to do all that you do?
Unfortunately, I’ve been separated from my marriage for about two years, after 31 years of marriage. I was completely devastated. But, I thought, I can feel really sorry for myself and mope around or I can dig deep down and figure out what I can do with my life and how I can use the gifts and skills I have to make a difference. There are things I could never do before that I can do now.
What do you enjoy doing to make a difference?
I started volunteering with Urban Ministries, which is a huge passion of mine, the homeless. I still volunteer there every Monday, but, at first, I volunteered two or three times a week. It’s just one day now that I’m more involved in PFLAG.
When did you get involved in PFLAG?
I became president at the end of 2012, beginning of 2013. Someone asked me to step up as PFLAG’s president. I can’t tell you what a huge leap that was for me. I was thinking to myself, “How in the hell am I going to do this?” The scariest thing in my life is being in a meeting talking in front of people, but as time goes on I feel more and more comfortable doing it. It’s the passion in me. It fosters me and it empowers me to grow as a person.
Outside of your community work, what kind of hobbies do you have or what do you do for fun?
I love to run. I love to be outside and walk, hike. I love to ride my bike.
Have any pets?
Yes, I do. After I separated, I had never lived alone my entire life. I come from a large family, one of six kids. Even in my 20s, I lived in an apartment with friends. I called my sister and said, “Find me a foster dog right now or else I’m going to get a foster child!” They sent me a picture of my white golden doodle Ellie. She has been my companion for the last two and a half years. I take her for walks and we do a lot together.
What’s your favorite genre of music?
I love Broadway musicals.
Any favorite musical?
That’s an ugly question to ask! (laughs) How can you answer that question?! If you’re a true musical lover, there’s no one that stands out. It’s always just what you’re in the mood for sometimes.
Have you done any traveling abroad?
Oh, yes! Last year, Michael was in the middle of taking his step one, the first huge test after the second year of medical school. He said let’s go do something fun. I thought it might be a long time before we could do something like this again, so we ended up going to Bali, Indonesia. It was amazing. It was just one of those once-in-a-lifetime trips and I got to take it with my son. I can’t even explain how incredible it was — the culture, the beautiful scenery and the great hotels we stayed in.
It seems like you’ve had lots of ups and downs — both triumphs and challenges — over the last few years. What have you learned from it?
Sometimes when something bad happens in your life, you have to make a choice. You have to make a choice to really put yourself out there and grow from the experience, which is something I’ve done in my life. You can get so many incredible things out of it. I’ve learned so much about myself and my strength. : :