It's not always easy for parents to come to terms with the knowledge that a child is gay, as Bernstein, whose daughter is a lesbian, well knows. Along with examples of parents who tried to murder or maim their child when they found out his or her sexual identity, Bernstein discusses more common reactions: denial, rage, and general emotional upset. Unfortunately, this book doesn't do a very good job of explaining how parents should deal with these emotions. Though it is chock-full of anecdotes about families who have successfully dealt with their initially homophobic reactions, exactly how the problems were ironed out is never fully addressed. Instead, Bernstein plugs the support group P-FLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) as a cure-all. The book reads almost as an infomercial for the group, with testimony after testimony of how P-FLAG managed to get families back together. Still, while he doesn't address the full range of issues, Bernstein does offer striking arguments against homophobia, and his book is perhaps the only one available for people facing this common dilemma. Recommended for public libraries.Pamela A. Matthews, Missouri Western State Coll., St. Joseph
Bernstein, father of a lesbian daughter, writes of parents' pain and confusion when they learn their children are gay. He realistically describes the initial feelings of grief and disgust almost universal among such parents, who, after all, have always considered homosexuality to be wrong and alien. In specific chapters, he also addresses the experiences of growing up gay in a straight world, the movement toward gay rights, the fight by accepting parents for tolerance for their children, celebrities with gay children, and myths about homosexuality, and he offers a survival guide for parents who have just learned they have a gay child. Especially valuable is the chapter "Parents Speak Out," which tells the personal stories of families who are incorporating gay children into their familial identity. Bernstein's tone is personal, his advice is sound, and he gives much play to the support organization Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (P-FLAG). A valuable addition to psychological self-help collections.