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Recommended Reading: Coming Out

The reading list below is an excellent starting point in your coming-out journey ahead, since many of the titles listed cover the process both for those who are navigating a new lifetime of being out and proud, and their significant others, friends, families, and allies as well. You can donate to PFLAG National by signing into Amazon Smile—smile.amazon.com—prior to purchasing any of these titles. 

Coming Out, Coming Home: Helping Families Adjust to a Gay or Lesbian Child by Michael LaSala. Through a qualitative, multicultural study of sixty-five gay and lesbian children and their parents, Michael LaSala, a leading expert on coming out, outlines effective, practice-tested interventions for families in transition. His research reveals surprising outcomes, such as learning that a child is homosexual can improve familial relationships, including father-child relationships, even if a parent reacts strongly or negatively to the revelation. 

For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Not Enough by Keith Boykin. This book addresses longstanding issues of sexual abuse, suicide, HIV/AIDS, racism, and homophobia in the African American and Latino communities, and more specifically among young gay men of color. The book tells stories of real people coming of age, coming out, dealing with religion and spirituality, seeking love and relationships, finding their own identity in or out of the LGBT community, and creating their own sense of political empowerment. For Colored Boys is designed to educate and inspire those seeking to overcome their own obstacles in their own lives.

The Gender Creative Child by Diane Ehrensaft. In this up-to-date, comprehensive resource, Dr. Ehrensaft explains the interconnected effects of biology, nurture, and culture to explore why gender can be fluid, rather than binary. As an advocate for the gender affirmative model and with the expertise she has gained over three decades of pioneering work with children and families, she encourages caregivers to listen to each child, learn their particular needs, and support their quest for a true gender self.

Love, Ellen: A Mother/Daughter Journey by Betty DeGeneres. When Ellen DeGeneres came out — first to Oprah Winfrey, and then on her television show — in 1997, it was a watershed moment for America no less than it was for the LGBTQ community. However, Ellen had come out to her mother Betty years before, in 1990. Just as her public coming out was initially rocky, coming out to her conservative mother was complicated. The two worked through it with learning, talking, and no small amount of grace and humor. That story is told here by Betty DeGeneres with a gentle directness and sense of humor that shows the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

Queer Brown Voices: Personal Narratives of Latino/a Activism edited by Uriel Quesada,‎ Letitia Gomez, and‎ Salvador Vidal-Ortiz. Queer Brown Voices documents the efforts of LGBT Latina/o activists. Comprising essays and oral history interviews that present the experiences of fourteen activists across the United States and in Puerto Rico, the book offers a new perspective on the history of LGBT mobilization and activism. The activists discuss subjects that shed light not only on the organizations they helped to create and operate, but also on their broad-ranging experiences of being racialized and discriminated against, fighting for access to health care during the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and struggling for awareness.

Straight Parents, Gay Children: Keeping Families Together by Robert Bernstein. Written in 1996 and updated in 2003, this is Bernstein’s account of coming to terms with his daughter’s homosexuality and how the experience has enriched his life. The book acts as a guide for parents as they help their LGBT children prepare for others’ reactions to their sexuality. It has earned plaudits from the likes of Betty DeGeneres, Charles Harmon, and the Washington Blade, as well as a generation of parents and families.

This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids: A Question and Answer Guide to Everyday Life by Danielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo. Written in an accessible Q&A format, here, finally, is the go-to resource for parents hoping to understand and communicate with their gay child. Through their LGBTQ-oriented site, the authors are uniquely experienced to answer parents’ many questions and share insight and guidance on both emotional and practical topics. Filled with real-life experiences from gay kids and parents, this is the book gay kids want their parents to read.

Transgender Children and Youth: Cultivating Pride and Joy with Families in Transition by Elijah Neely. Elijah C. Nealy, a therapist and former deputy executive director of New York City’s LGBT Community Center, and himself a trans man, has written the first-ever comprehensive guide to understanding, supporting, and welcoming trans kids. Covering everything from family life to school and mental health issues, as well as the physical, social, and emotional aspects of transition, this book is full of best practices to support trans kids.

When I Knew by Robert Trachtenberg. Trachtenberg is an acclaimed photographer and documentarian. He’s primarily in documentarian mode here, with the real draw being the stories he elicits from his subjects and contributors. Dozens of people open up about when they — or their families, or their friends — first “knew.” This isn’t a how-to. Think of it instead as a generous and open-hearted “remember when” that acknowledges what many of us feel like we’ve always known, and celebrates all that comes after.

If you or your loved ones are looking for online reasources please consider storytelling sites such as I’m from DriftwoodWhen I Came Out, and Everyone is Gay which include personal narratives, peer-to-peer advice, and much more! You may also find helpful insight on social media – many individuals and families share their stories on Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube in the hope of providing support to others who are just beginning their coming-out journey.