is two books in one: a memoir of Chastity Bono's experience coming out as a lesbian to her famous parents and a look at the difficulties and triumphs that are part of every uncloseted homosexual's family life, with narratives drawn from interviews with members of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). Sometimes the two projects work against each other, but for the most part, Bono is right in assuming that her story reflects something larger in the culture and that others' stories, in turn, bear on her own experience. Readers skimming for intimate details about the mother-daughter conflict between Cher and Chastity won't be disappointed by Bono's sensitively written account. For a long time, Cher overlooked the troubling evidence of her daughter's emerging sexual identity: "Instead, she focused on superficial issues that bothered her: my short hair, my mannish clothes, my weight." Their relationship deteriorated, and it was Sonny to whom Chastity eventually confided; ironically, the father who offered immediate, warm acceptance of his daughter's lesbianism would later sponsor the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act in the House of Representatives. --Regina Marler
From Publishers Weekly
By encouraging more than a dozen gay and lesbian young adults (and their parents) to tell their coming-out stories along with her own, Bono transforms what could have been a tell-all celebrity memoir into an essential coming-out guide. In 1990, Sonny and Cher's 20-year-old daughter, Chastity, was outed as a lesbian by the tabloids. Although she had been aware of her sexual orientation by age 13 (and out to her parents by 18?much to Cher's dismay, at first), this public outing sent her scurrying back into the closet for five years. A relationship with an older woman, whom Chastity nursed in a losing battle with cancer, strengthened her commitment to living her life out of the closet. She publicly came out on the cover of the gay newsweekly, the Advocate, in 1995 and began working in the political arena. Bono's own story is one of many oral histories woven by the authors into a tapestry of coming-out tales that range from positive to harrowing. Despite the differing backgrounds and experiences of the protagonists, all stories end with reconciled families feeling closer than before. The author reports that 50,000 young people attempt suicide annually, and 30% of all completed youth suicides are by gay youths. This moving, ultimately reassuring book puts a human face on these statistics and, in doing so, may save lives. Fitzpatrick is a writer and editor. Author tour; U.K. and translation rights, Little, Brown. (Oct.) FYI: October is National Coming Out Month.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.