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Ties That Bind: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences Hardcover – October 6, 2009
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Lambda Book Report
Ties That Bind is one of the most exciting gay liberation texts to appear in years...this is a rewarding, wide-ranging, and challenging work from an original mind and a talented pen, one that will make you think and help you live.
Doug Ireland, Gay City News
Schulman boldly declares that visibility is a failed strategy for cultural change.
[Schulman is] a writer who has played a pivotal role in the cultural and political spheres of the gay community.
To call her book [Ties That Bind] pioneering would be redundant. . . . With its personal appeals, its call to arms or rather, ethics and its advice for therapists, family members, and gay people, I continue to be struck by the book’s usefulness above all else. . . .[I]t gives me hope that one day just as Schulman stipulates homophobia could actually be a punishable crime, we could be liberated from the systematic shame and humiliation that currently defines our culture, and in that liberation necessarily granted the rights that
we’ve lived without all this time.
Schulman’s lucid dissection of the role that families play as incubators of homophobia could hardly be better. This [is] a truly indispensable book. It should blow away the hot air generated by the public debate about family values.’
Andrew Ross, chair of the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at York University
Sarah Schulman Ties That Bind tackles the familial and cultural homophobia that still pervade our society. She starkly lays out the fundamental immorality of such shunning behavior and its destructive consequences for everyone involved. This is an important and original book.
Martin Duberman, award-winning historian, biographer, playwright, and gay rights activist
Sarah Schulman is brilliant, vulnerable, and relentless. Ties That Bindshould be required reading for every familygay and straight.
Ellen Bass, poet and author of The Courage to Heal
A cri de coeur woven into a Utopian vision.
Susan Brownmiller, author of Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape
Sarah has taught me a great deal over the years of our being fellow activists and this book teaches me even more.
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Ms. Schulman suggests, quite strongly, (and validly) an alternative to that standard advice given when one's family of origin is dysfunctional: develop a "chosen" family of friends and loved ones. Standard, but again, Ms. Schulman rightly believes that every individual has entitlement to a loving supportive family, and a person who does not, should be supported by others who can arrange an intervention to set right the blood family. Oh, if that could only happen every time; how much pain and loss would we avoid.
From a practical standpoint, I wish the author had explored not just the need for intervention, but both alternatives to intervention and methodology of intervention from the standpoint of the individual experiencing familial abuse. How does a victim, already disempowered by the loss of family support, and who, very likely, has little social support find the resources and stratagem to implement an intervention with a dysfunctional family? The author is entirely right that it is the family that needs the therapy or intervention, but realistically, I wish Ms. Schulman had gone a few steps further. For example, how might a teen or even an adult, whose familial structure has been for a long time (or a lifetime) heterocentrist, begin? In truth, interventions are sometimes neither possible, nor successful.
Further in the book, the author reveals some of the prejudices with which she has dealt in her professions, which some may feel takes the book's titled direction a bit astray.
I found the book otherwise excellent.
That said, the author has the gift of presenting her arguments clearly and interestingly, passionately, but not pompously. Thank you for this valuable voice against this all-too-common problem.
Especially important for the youth, when they have no-one to turn to for explanations.
The arguments are basic, the explanations clear and this text could easily be read by heterosexuals as well as gays.
In fact it is important reading for heterosexuals in particular, to understand their own behavior within the family.
I highly recommend this book to everyone. A reader who is homophobic might just get some insight and question that attitude. A reader who is gay and has never been victimized will get insight into what it's like for those not so lucky. A reader who is on the receiving end of the hatred and rejection will realize s/he's not alone, and maybe have some hope of how to deal with it.
It's not a particularly optimistic book, because even though Schulman tells what should happen within a family to set things right, I don't get the feeling she's optimistic about the chances of its happening. It's a dark read because of its subject, and also because she shows, sadly, that the result of being shunned and treated badly by family can lead to the victim perpetuating the treatment on a partner.
The author "takes no prisoners." She's forthright and honest and compassionate.
It's not a fun, fast, fluffy read. I found myself stopping frequently, thinking, "But why...? How can they...?" and re-reading those parts.
It's an important book, and one that cries out to be read. Schulman shouldn't be left to preach to the choir. This book should be in every public library.