BOOK REVIEW - Youth in Crisis: What Everyone Should Know About Growing Up Gay
Youth in Crisis: What Everyone Should Know About Growing Up Gay, edited by Mitchell Gold with Mindy Drucker Gold. New York, Magnus Books, paperback edition, 2008. 369 pages.
Review by Dave Ferguson.
I found it fascinating to learn the background stories of friends, acquaintances, well-known personalities, and others I had never heard about. I wanted to find a favorite story to highlight, but it was impossible; they were all so special in their own way. I have known for years that it is stories that change hearts and minds; so it was not surprising to find myself moved sometimes to laughter, sometimes to tears, and often to be deeply moved by the lives of the forty individuals who were willing to share their personal lives and struggles based on their sexual orientation. The personal introduction of each story by Mitchell Gold shows his intense involvement not only with the struggle faced by those growing up gay in our society, but also the depth of his involvement in the project of writing the book by actually spending time with each author and their story. It is difficult for me to imagine anyone being able to read all of these stories and still be able to say these people all “chose” to experience this pain, but some religious folks still cling to the belief that sexual orientation is a choice despite the evidence from so many sources that says it is not.
The book is a must read for every teenager in America whether they are coming to terms with their own sexual orientation or that of a family member, friend, classmate, or fellow congregant. I’m encouraging those in gay-straight alliances to include it in discussions. After reading it themselves, teens should share with their parents, so they can understand both the struggles of teens and learn from the stories of other parents how to first deal with having a gay child (I’m including gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender) and then what it means to love and support them. The book’s sections can be read sequentially or in any order that meets a teen’s current circumstances. The various sections reflect the areas of greatest challenge: Religious Discrimination; Family and Community Rejection; School and Social Discrimination; In the Workplace; What I Know Now: On Losing A Child; The Sin Question; and an Exposé on the Silent Epidemic of Depression, Isolation, and Fear. Of all of these categories, it is still hardest to grasp that people who claim a religious faith and experience can, at the same time, inflict so much pain on the lives of others through their words, their actions, and their inaction.
The book is a gold mine of resources. It moves from understanding texts in the Bible to sources for school statistics, to organizations that can provide support to those to be avoided, and the myth of reparative therapy. The Expose’ provides rich resources and ideas for teachers, principals, school administrators, parents, politicians, the media, pastors, rabbis, priests, and imams.
This book makes a wonderful gift to youth in crisis. It provides the answers for moving from crisis to a life that is filled with joy and fulfillment. Hopefully, as a society, we will make the constitutional guarantees of equality for all a reality for these teens who are currently bullied in school and denied housing, workplace security, and a partner because of their orientation.