Monday, August 16, 2010

Mom, Dad I'm Gay : How Families Negotiate Coming Out - by Ritch C. Savin-Williams - American Psychological Association, 2001


Review by Glenda M. Russell, Ph.D. on Jun 27th 2002

In a discipline that all too often encourages unidimensional models of complex human phenomena, it is a pleasure to read psychologist Ritch Savin-Williams book, Mom, Dad.  I’m Gay: How Families Negotiate Coming Out.  Savin-Williams offers the reader a generally engrossing report of coming out experiences as seen through the eyes of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth as well as youths who have been involved in same-sex relationships but who reject these labels for themselves.  The book focuses quite specifically on what happens when LGB youths anticipate telling their parents about their sexual orientation and what actually occurs when they make this revelation.  The stories of these revelations form the core of the book and they are as interesting as reports of lives in movement.  They reflect fears and triumphs, rejection and acceptance, human stupidity and human grace – all the ups and downs that one might expect from the stories of significant events in the lives of virtually any group of adolescents.

            Savin-Williams sets up his book by placing sexual-minority youth and their coming out in the context of adolescent development.  He explicitly invites readers to see the similarities and differences among these youths, and he introduces readers to basic terminology (e.g., sexual orientation, sexual identity, homonegativity). Read more:

by Ritch C. Savin-Williams

As mainstream America becomes more aware of the non-heterosexual community, gay, lesbian, transgendered, and bisexual teenagers are revealing their sexual identities to their parents at a younger age than ever before. Often this happens while teens are still living at home. How do they decide whether and when to take this risky step? What is involved in negotiating a new identity with parents? And how common are the coming out "horror stories" published in the popular press?

Drawing from over 150 original interviews with teens, psychologist Ritch Savin-Williams separates fact from fiction in this survey of coming out experiences. Drawing from existing developmental research, he illustrates the wide range of family reactions and discusses the factors that determine how parents come to terms with the disclosure over time. He reveals that the coming out experience is greatly influenced by gender, and chapters highlight common mother-daughter, mother-son, father-daughter, and father-son dynamics. Read more:
American Psychological Association

Ritch C. Savin-Williams
is professor and chair of Human Development at Cornell University.

The New Gay Teenager - by Ritch C. Savin-Williams
Harvard University Press, 2005 –

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