Book Review: 'Family Pride: What LGBT Families Should Know about Navigating Home, School, and Safety in Their Neighborhoods'
â€œFamily Pride: What LGBT Families Should Know about Navigating Home, School, and Safety in Their Neighborhoodsâ€ by Michael Shelton;Â c.2012, Beacon Press; $16.00 / $19.00 Canada; 240 pages.
Review by Terri Schlichenmeyer
At your house, the doorâ€™s always open. You love having a big group around your table any time; in fact, the more, the merrier. Family and friends never hesitate to stop by because youâ€™ll make room for them no matter what. Theyâ€™re always welcome. They know that. The doorâ€™s always open, but itâ€™s also closed. Youâ€™re an LGBT family, and that creates some sticky issues. Whom do you tell and whatâ€™s safe to say?Â How do you protect your children? You may get a little guidance on that by reading â€œFamily Prideâ€ by Michael Shelton. Your family is just like everybody elseâ€™s. Almost. You like the same foods and TV programs, wear the same clothes, drive the same streets, and laugh at the same stupid things. The only difference between you and the other families in your neighborhood is that youâ€™re gay. Youâ€™re also in good company: a third of lesbians and one out of five gay men are parents. Still, almost half of your neighbors think they have nothing in common with you. Pop culture, donâ€™t-tell behavior, and mythology are partly to blame for that: itâ€™s widely (and erroneously) believed, for example, that most LGBT households are affluent, white, highly-educated, and only found in urban areas. Lesbian single mothers often keep their lives hidden to protect their children. Rural and small-town LGBT families are thought not to exist. The general truth is that what researchers know about same-sex parents is â€œnot necessarily accurate.â€ This is exacerbated by what Shelton says is â€œpassing,â€ or telling a white lie or a lie of omission in order to maintain discretion within the community. â€œPassing,â€ therefore, avoids full disclosure, which may be undesirable for reasons of discrimination, bullying, or downright danger. There are, of course, impacts on the children for â€œpassing,â€ just like there are for coming out (which, says Shelton, should be a â€œprocessâ€). Children in an LGBT family canâ€™t be raised like every other kid because theyâ€™re not like other kids. Still, they should know the truth about their parents, they can be taught the fine art of discretion without lying, and they should be taught that straight people are not the enemy. I struggled a lot with whatâ€™s inside â€œFamily Pride.â€ I liked that LGBT parents will find a lot of information in this book: information on diversity, studies, challenges, and services that can help to meet those challenges. Shelton includes case studies and first-person accounts to support his facts, and theyâ€™re quite interesting to read. I fear, however, that what youâ€™ll find may be old news. Most gay man and lesbians are likely already aware of laws, services, and harassment. They know how and where to seek help. They donâ€™t need a book to tell them the statistics. Therefore, overall, I think that the audience for this book lies in newly-created LGBT families or allies wishing to understand or lend a hand. â€œFamily Prideâ€ will be helpful for them, but established LGBT families probably neednâ€™t bother to open it.
The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri lives in Wisconsin with two dogs and 12,500 books.