You've probably seen at least one video from the series, It Gets Better, that is being promoted by Dan Savage (syndicated advice columnist) to help gay youth realize that life gets better after high school. His videos are a response to the recent well publicized gay teen suicides which largely came as a result of bullying. I have watched many of these with fascination and even shed a few tears.
One of the most riveting tales I ever read was by Paul Monette who won The National Book Award for Becoming a Man. It has been more than 15 years since I read this book, so all I have left are my impressions. I remember that getting a glimpse into one person's grappling with these issues was so interesting that it prompted me to steal the book from the Bed and Breakfast in which I was staying. This book was full of Monette's early sexual adventures and is incredibly painful to read. Monette's anger is palpable. Becoming a Man was the memoir that set the stage for all future coming of age tales. Sadly, Mr. Monette died in 1995 of complications related to AIDS.
Two prominent gay artists have written books about adding children to their families. BD Wong wrote Following Foo the story of how he and his partner hired a surrogate who gave birth to a child who was biologically his and his partners. Wong adopted a series of emails he had written to friends and family following the birth of their child into this beautiful memoir. (A subtle reminder that everything we write counts!)
I first became acquainted with Dan Savage when I read The Kid, his story of his and his partner's adoption of DJ through the open adoption laws of the state of Oregon. In his own It Gets Better video, Dan shows pictures of a growing DJ and tells stories about their family life. The Kid tells the beginning of the story. Again, I read it many years ago, but I remember the book as being cute, sweet, and compelling reading. The two gay fathers have just as much worry and parental angst as any straight parents would have.
Please consider this my personal contribution to the It Gets Better campaign. If you are out there, check out these funny, interesting, haunting and candid books about parenthood, coming of age, homelessness, and coming to understand your own identity. These true stories are proof also that it gets better. Much better. All are available at the public library.
I would love to hear other reader recommendations on this topic.
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