Reviewer Gordon Osmond : Gordon is a produced and award-winning playwright and author of: So You Think You Know English--A Guide to English for Those Who Think They Don't Need One, Wet Firecrackers--The Unauthorized Autobiography of Gordon Osmond and his debut novel Slipping on Stardust.
He has reviewed books and stageplays for http://CurtainUp.com and for the Bertha Klausner International Literary Agency. He is a graduate of Columbia College and Columbia Law School and practiced law on Wall Street for many years before concentrating on writing fiction and non-fiction. You can find out more about Gordon by clicking HERE
Author:Anne Dohrenwend, PhD, ABPP
Publisher:New Horizon Press
Author:Anne Dohrenwend, PhD, ABPP
Publisher:New Horizon Press
Coming around is the parental reaction to a child’s coming out. In my generation, most parents had no need for guidance in coming around because their children didn’t come out. But in these new days, Dr. Dohrenwend’s guide is timely, valuable, and firmly grounded in the lasting values of civilized life—love, reason, and understanding.
The solid pillar supporting this book is the premise, once controversial, now firmly accepted, that non-heterosexual orientation is normal, moral, and innate. To the author’s great credit, not a single line is devoted to the absurd notion that a child, given current cultural mores, would consider for a second electing to be something other than heterosexual. By the same token, “sexual orientation” is everywhere; “alternate lifestyle,” which sounds like picking out furniture, is nowhere to be found. Whether the innateness is expressed in terms of hair color, right or left handedness, or eye color, as I did in a play in 1989, when the concept was considered controversial, the truth comes through.
For parents who are working toward acceptance of a non-heterosexual child, the book offers enlightened encouragement and reinforcement; for parents who express a negative reaction, the book paints and documents a genuine horror story of the consequences of that ignorant and inhumane course.
In the course of exploring the ramifications of the author’s thesis, some fascinating conundrums are addressed, including, most pertinently, the Gentlemen’s Agreement dilemma: is passive non-support of bigotry morally sufficient or is overt confrontation required?
Given the author’s obvious qualifications and personal grounding in the subject, the reader might have wanted more detailed analysis of some related questions, e.g.:
Does “gay pride” sometimes go beyond justifiable pride in the progress that has been made against incredible adversities and morph into a confrontational assertion of basic superiority?
Do demands for the legality of gay marriage sometimes stem from a feeling that a relationship will not be legitimate unless and until it is recognized by others?
How should parents deal with the double dose of, “I’m gay, and I’m sick?”
What are the statistics on how many children come out prematurely only to go back in later?
What exactly is “safe sex”? The words are used, but never explained.
How important is pre-conditioning, viz., family discussions of sexual variations before coming out is an issue? This is touched on, but very lightly.
How does psychology explain the difference between adult gays that comfortably relate to both heterosexual and homosexual environments and those that actively eschew contact with heterosexuals?
The author struggles mightily with the challenges of grammatical bisexuality. Her solutions are varied, frequent, and distracting: “his or her,” “s/he,” “his” in one sentence, “her” in the next, etc. A more gifted editor might have converted singular references into the plural or, better still, taken a hint from the author’s own subtitle—“kid.”
A related difficulty is presented by naming the various flavors in which these eccentric “kids” come: “LGBTQ,” which the author often, understandably, shortens to “LGBT,” “gay,” which makes straights sound sullen, “straight,” which makes gays sound “bent,” a British pejorative, and “lesbian,” which is unduly historical and geographical for my taste. An organization that helps parents cope is PFLAG, which, if truly faithful to its constituency would be PFFLGBTQ. Did any letters in the alphabet get left out?
The book is full of footnotes and references to other books. However, I found the bibliographical support spotty at times. For example, the statement that children of single-sex parents fare better than those raised by heterosexual parents draws no discernible distinction between heterosexual parents who are the natural parents and those who are foster ones. And the statement that “lesbians are at a higher risk for gynecologic cancers” is made without any backup at all.
The author includes a listing of films of interest. I would have added to this delightful collection a seminal piece about coming out and around starring Gena Rowlands, Ben Gazarra, and Aiden Quinn. Also, it might have been interesting to contrast these works with films that have a decidedly homophobic perspective, e.g., Tea and Sympathy and The Children’s Hour.
The book is told in a perfectly clear, if somewhat antiseptic style. With the possible exceptions of the observation that Barney Frank is “a respected member of the House of Representatives,” the statement that “a physician should screen vigilantly for . . . suicide,” and the prediction that kids between 12 and 20 “probably” experiment with sex, there is precious little humor or wit involved. Psychobabble is only occasional, e.g. “heteronormative” and “suicidality.”
When the author/doctor becomes political activist in relation to the issues of hate crimes and gay marriage legislation, the reader will be interested, but perhaps not always persuaded.
The wise counsels of this book should be required reading for anyone involved directly or indirectly with the effort to deal intelligently and compassionately with the inevitable diversities of the human race. I can pay the book no greater compliment than to quote its final line: “Your child has followed love’s lead by coming out despite discrimination and homophobia. Now it’s your turn to follow love’s lead and come around.”
Follow Here To Purchase Coming Around: Parenting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Kids