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Out of the Ordinary: Essays on Growing Up with Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Parents Paperback – August 10, 2000
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While hearing "faggot" yelled at you in a high school corridor would upset almost anyone, here is evidence that hearing "Your father's a faggot" isn't nearly as bad, and that you might find yourself levelheadedly retorting, "No, my father's a transgendered lesbian." This unprecedented collection of short memoirs by adult children of gay, lesbian, and transgender parents demonstrates once again that love cannot be policed or regulated, and that the bond between parents and children transcends petty categories. Kelley Conway's "My Mother and the Nun" describes the confusion a 14-year-old girl feels when her mother falls in love with another woman at the same time that Conway herself is beginning to recognize her own attractions to other girls. In Peter Snow's "Acting Lessons," a college boy returns home to find that his parents, who have always been unhappily married, are still together, and in fact are cozied up on the couch watching television with his mother's lover, Jackie. What is missing from this volume are essays by children who were born or adopted into same-sex families. Without this perspective, the memoirs are somewhat skewed, since almost every writer had to deal not only with a parent's coming out but with a wrenching divorce, often caused by that parent's sexuality. Nevertheless, this collection should prove helpful to therapists, youth counselors, and families with gay members, and contribute positively to the debates on same-sex parenting and adoption. --Regina Marler
From Publishers Weekly
The typical adolescent experience of being mortified by one's parents or squeamish about discussing sexuality takes on an additional dimension in this collection of essays by 20 contributors who have a queer mom or dad (or two). The lack of sophistication in these essays is both the book's weakness and its strengthAfor these accounts, many by first-time writers, sometimes unintentionally show with dramatic clarity how at early ages the authors sensed and shouldered their parents' struggles. Among the most poignant stories are one girl's account of her loss of contact with a much-loved nonbiological "mom" after the "mom" and the girl's mother broke up; another girl's memories of her fear of losing her father as he began transitioning from male to female; and the tale of a nervous boy who has been told to "smile and say nothing" whenever asked why his mother lives with a woman. With the exception of Dan Savage, these narrators don't sound like products of the current, proud gay-parenting boom; many are the children of parents who struggled to leave straight lives (and marriages) and to establish new identities later in life. Despite a number of tributes to parents who succeeded in finding themselvesAand remaining sensitive to their children at the same timeAa pall is cast over the book by the many parents who did not talk to their family about what was happening or who retreated into the closet. One reluctantly perceptive nine-year-old, asked how he would define "lesbian," is quoted as saying, "It's something that happens, and kids don't usually like it happening." (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.