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Mom Knows: Reflections on Love, Gay Pride, and Taking Action [Kindle Edition]

Catherine Tuerk
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $18.00
Kindle Price: $8.99
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Book Description

“When my son came out to me, I was deeply fearful that he could never be happy. And I felt profound sorrow, almost as though he had died.” Thus began one woman’s extraordinary, silence-breaking journey: Catherine Tuerk set out to educate herself and others about gay people. She became a leader in PFLAG—Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. She wrote articles for varied publications and appeared on many television and radio shows with the aim of dispelling homophobia and promoting pride-inspired advocacy. On frequent vacation trips abroad, Catherine and her husband served as pro-gay ambassadors, getting to know gay people and their parents in other cultures. Concerned that the unique realities of gay and transgender children are often overlooked or ignored, Catherine was instrumental in establishing a pioneering program that supports and affirms gender-nonconforming children and their families. All along the way, Catherine Tuerk has been writing candidly about her journey. Mom Knows is a lively and compelling selection from her writings of two decades, with this remarkable mother’s distinctive voice—frank and insightful, compassionate and hopeful—coming through strong and clear.

Editorial Reviews


Mom knows--and feels, cares, and fights--in this exceptional collection of essays by Catherine Tuerk. There's something for everyone here: Allies will be better educated, advocates will be inspired to fight even more, those who are hostile to gays will be challenged. Gay people themselves will be moved and grateful that people like Tuerk exist--and write so well. She's bold in the topics she covers--from why some gay men have sex in public bathrooms to how she has met gay men and women in numerous countries where homosexuality is harshly punished. Mom Knows is full of memorable characters like Uncle Johnnie, brother-in-law Richard, and spunky Mother Tuerk. None, however, is as spunky as the author herself, who challenges the reader just as she has challenged herself to be more open, knowledgeable, loving, and strong. Accompanying her, from Pride parades with PFLAG to touring in Tanzania, is a trip one won t quickly forget. --Rabbi Bob Saks, Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation Bet Mishpachah (founded by members of the Washington, DC, gay community in 1975)

Mom Knows is a compelling account of the historical progression of one mother who set out to educate herself and make the world a better place for people of all sexualities and genders. In her eloquent writings of more than two decades, Catherine Tuerk weaves together her professional expertise, maternal wisdom, and boundless activist commitment, educating us and encouraging us to join her. A must read for parents, educators, health and mental health professionals, policy makers, advocates, and anyone who wants to understand more deeply the challenging road to affirmation for LGBT and gender-nonconforming people and their families. --Diane Ehrensaft, PhD, author of Gender Born, Gender Made: Raising Healthy Gender-Nonconforming Children; director of Mental Health, Child and Adolescent Gender Center, Oakland, California

A leading force for acceptance of LGBT persons in our society, Catherine Tuerk has written a heartfelt book that is the culmination of her many years of work with gender-nonconforming children and their parents. Her tales bear sad witness to societal, medical, and psychiatric approaches that were misinformed and steeped in homophobia, profoundly harmful to children and parents alike--a legacy that is still with us. --George R. Brown, MD, DFAPA, Professor of Psychiatry, East Tennessee State University; Board of Directors, World Professional Association for Transgender Health

About the Author

Catherine Tuerk, MA, APRN, is a psychotherapist in private practice. In recognition of her volunteer service as president of the Metro DC chapter of PFLAG, she received the Starr Award, the national organization's top honor for exemplary leadership by a parent in the local community. Co-founder and past co-director of the Gender and Sexuality Advocacy and Education Program at the Children's National Medical Center, she now serves that program as senior consultant. Advocates for LGBT people in their Jewish community, Catherine and her husband, Jonathan Tuerk, live in Washington, DC, where they raised their son and daughter and now entertain their five grandchildren.

Product Details

  • File Size: 753 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Catherine Tuerk (May 23, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0085YZ5US
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,296,221 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Eat, Pray, Love" for LGBT families July 9, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This collection of stories about a mom coming out about her gay son is an amazing journey of hope for all LGBT families. As the co-founder of a support group for gender non-conforming children, Ms. Tuerk is an inspiration for so many parents--giving them "permission" to love their children wholly and unconditionally; and giving them the tools to navigate the world with dignity, love, and respect for themselves and others.

Her book doubles as an amazing travel guide around the world as she shares her experiences and interactions with LGBT communities around the world. Her essays about her journeys, her grapple with religion, and her process of devouring information to support her son, lend her book to become the "Eat, Pray, Love" for all LGBT families.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Have Book for Parents and Allies of GLBTQ kids June 15, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've read thousands of books. I can think of exactly one which has made me weeping--or laugh-- on almost every page. This one. Catherine's story, of her journey from a middle class, Jewish professional mom nauseated by the very thought of homosexuality, to a globe hopping GLBTQ activist and media figure, is riveting, personal, and honest enough to cut like a knife. She gives voice to the negative feelings, the fears, the homophobia and transphobia which most of us feel at our children's coming out, and then takes us by the hand, through tolerance, acceptance, and finally to exuberant celebration of gay son's identity, life, and adoptive family. As a parent who, in the 70s, used psychoanalysis to 'fix' her gay son's feminine tendencies, Catherine has baggage. WIth the best clinical advice of the era, the best treatment, and the best of intentions, she ended up isolating and damaging her beloved son. Healing this rift with her son, and her subsequent lifelong activism, is her act of tikkun loam, in Catherine's Judaism, the act of repairing the world.

We follow her, through African and Asian cultures, learning about the modern day plight of GLBTQ people first hand, through her interactions as a PFLAG advocate. Her insights, into the degrees of acceptance, compromise, tolerance, in countries like Egypt and Tanzania, are fascinating. Everywhere she goes, there is work to do, for while many cultures aren't as overtly homophobic as the USA, virtually no culture on the planet celebrates GLBTQ family life as equal to its heterosexual analog.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
What a wonderful book!
Long-time activist and PFLAG mom Catherine Tuerk has assembled a group of her essays and publications relating to her son's declaration "I am gay" and her subsequent journey to activism. She not only describes her life as the mother of a gay son but also calls on all of us to stand up for our children - constantly.
Her book is divided into sections with essays and articles pertinent to their titles. The book begins with "My Story" and progresses through "Family," "Sex, Love and Marriage," "The Children," and Ms Tuerk's travels in many other countrys. She leads the reader using her own experiences into discussions of many facets of activism on behalf of our LGBT loved ones and their families. The book closes with several articles about dealing with your gender non-conforming (or gender variant) child in loving and healthy ways.
Most of the chapters are short - a couple pages - making for easy reading. The stories about Ms Tuerk's family and their journey together demonstrate the difficulties that gay men and their families have gone through for decades, both in the US and around the world. Her emotions and her initial struggle to accept her child really show through. It would be difficult, in my opinion, to read the book without somehow becoming emotionally involved both with her family's life and that of our LGBT families around the world.
Ms Tuerk's constant activism on behalf of all our children is a stellar example of accepting the ethical responsibility to help make the world a better place. Read it, then go out and emulate her dedication.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vitally Important Book July 10, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is so important. It really is a milestone in acceptance-- for parents, children, educators, lawmakers, communities, families. It is only very recently that children like those profiled in Catherine Tuerk's book have been acknowledged and accepted, even in our relatively educated and liberal communities in the U.S. What a godsend, not only to parents of children with gender non-conformity, but for any adult who has any reason to be around children at all--your own child's friends, your students, your congregation, etc. Catherine helps all us to understand that gender non-conformity, inborn, has always been with us, and always will be. And not only that, but that such non-conformity is natural, normal and precious. It gives permission for parents who instinctively know that acceptance and even celebration must be given to their "boys-who-like-girls-things" and their "girls-who-like-boys-things", to embrace their own children and the children like this who may come in and out of their lives. How wonderful, refreshing and vitally important to equality and human and civil rights that this be understood. Please read this book and give it to everyone you know. It is for all of us...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This is an important book to read with info that is valuable to your understanding of other people's lives.
Published 1 month ago by RUTH FLANNELLY
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming and well written.
The essays in this book are so touching. I learned a lot about the trials of being the parent of a gay child. Read more
Published on February 10, 2013 by Carolyn Shargel
5.0 out of 5 stars Blew my socks off!
Mom Knows: Reflections on Love, Gay Pride, and Taking Action

I bought this book out of politeness. Read more
Published on February 3, 2013 by Christine McArdle
5.0 out of 5 stars First, do no harm...but if you do, fix it.
Even a psychotherapist can be misled and cause harm to her child. That was Catherine Tuerk's experience as her son came out to her. Read more
Published on November 30, 2012 by Lissa Brown, author of Another F-Word
4.0 out of 5 stars Professional psychotherpist and PFLAG mom provides thoughts and...
The author is a Washington DC psychotherapist in private practice, who first became involved in Parents Friends/Family of Lesbians And Gays (PFLAG) when her son came out to her on... Read more
Published on August 5, 2012 by Bob Lind
4.0 out of 5 stars Heartfelt book by a straight, cisgender mother
What a wonderful book by an amazing activist, mother, and grandmother! If more people in the LGBTQ community had (grand)parents like Catherine Tuerk, our community -- and the world... Read more
Published on August 2, 2012 by HugDyke
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for 'Outsiders,' too
Mom Knows: Reflections on Love, Gay Pride, and Taking Action Catherine Tuerk's tour de force is a must read for the LGBT community; however, and more important, is its validity... Read more
Published on July 23, 2012 by M. B. Weisgal
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a treasure for persons who have GLBTs in their lives.
Before I begin my review of this important and touching book, I want to personally thank its author, Catherine Tuerk, for the extraordinary help & guidance she gave to me in 1993... Read more
Published on July 18, 2012 by Robert J. Niemic
5.0 out of 5 stars Comfort and hope
This quick read of essays offers a wealth of comfort and hope for parents who find themselves faced with something they might never have considered--being the parent of an LGBT... Read more
Published on July 10, 2012 by Customer
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