Sally Field accepted the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Ally for Equality Award in Washington D.C. this weekend. After her son Sam Greisman introduced her, she gave an impassioned speech about her love for Sam and issued a challenge to all parents. “There are so many children who struggle to understand and embrace their sexuality in families who do not welcome them, parents who somehow find it acceptable to shut them out of their hearts and their homes. And that I find unacceptable. There comes a time when parents must listen, learn from these people that they brought into the world. Their children. And these children have something important to teach their parents. I urge them to listen.”

In her acceptance speech, Sally Field described the years of listening she offered to Sam as a gift:

Sam was different. And his journey to allow himself to be what nature intended him to be, was not an easy one. As his mother, I consider it one of the great privileges of my life to be allowed to be part of it. When I saw him struggling, I wanted to jump in and define it for him, but his brothers held me back, fiercely insisting that I try not try to travel that road for him. It was his to travel, not mine, they kept telling me. I had to wait for him to own himself in his own time. I could make it easier only by standing visibly to the side, clearly loving him and always there…He had to see that all the things that he wanted in life were still possible, whether he was gay or straight. His dreams for the future were not limited, to have the career he always wanted…to find a lasting and loving partner and to build a family of his own. Sam was given colors and innate perceptions that his big brothers simply don’t have. He’s a gentler nature and it is a gift. Nature made Sam, it wasn’t a choice. He was always, always Sam, glorious, smart, funny, sweet Sam…At 20 he was finally able to stand up proudly and say I am a gay man.

Watch Sally Field’s Acceptance Speech

Sally Field acceptance speech with full introduction by her son Sam Greisman.