My parents were born in Xirokambi, a village near Sparta, Greece, during the Great Depression. As children, they lived through the Nazi occupation, and witnessed Nazi soldiers rounding up civilians for execution in retaliation for attacks by the resistance.
My parents spent the rest of their young years living in poverty in the midst of a civil war. When they left Greece, they sailed to Canada with no education, no money, and no English. They worked hard and eventually, with a few relatives, they opened a Greek diner. Among the customers, tables, chairs, and smells of that diner is where my three sisters and I grew up. I was blessed to have my three sisters. They protected me and believed in me. They also taught me what it was like to be a girl in a patriarchal society.
At that time, bigotry and racist attacks were common. As a boy, I remember hiding behind the bushes at school until the other children went inside to avoid my bullies.