A MEMBER OF THE FAMILY: Gay Men Write About Their Closest Relations by John--Ed. Preston

A MEMBER OF THE FAMILY: Gay Men Write About Their Closest Relations

Email this review


As in Hometowns (a 1991 collection of commentary by gay writers on their sense of place) and Personal Dispatches (a 1989 collection representing gay writers' responses to AIDS), both of which he edited, Preston here assembles reminiscences of family life by an array of articulate gays, including Michael Nava, Andrew Holleran, and Eric Latsky. The experiences on which the 27 writers focus are common, with many involving sexual identity only in passing. Instead, the authors explore loving and bonding; loyalties, conflicts, and misunderstandings; displacement, rebellion, and alienation (usually set off by a crisis such as fatal illness or death itself); and reconciliation and recovery. And the whole range of relatives is represented: loving, bewildered, or brutal fathers; caring or remote mothers; mysterious and austere grandparents; forgiving or resentful siblings; and cousins, obscure uncles, and maiden aunts. The backgrounds are diverse as well: soldiers, farmers, ranchers; urban Jewish, southwestern Mexican, black; Baptist, Catholic. There are only a few dysfunctional families and there is little assessment of guilt or blame. Mostly, the stories deal with confused and well-intentioned parents (and siblings) who grapple with disclosure of gayness or, worse, with the undisclosed secret; who grow to whatever degree their homosexual children, all male, require of them--or, failing to do so, lose their children. Guarded, curious, the homosexual narrators seem, on the whole, self-protective, more beloved than loving: ""If we do love men,"" Michael Bronski asks, ""why so often do we have such hard times loving our fathers and our brothers?"" Excellent writing--accurate, unpretentious, focused--from strong and unique voices that seem to emerge from and to validate the families (even the hostile ones) they speak of.

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 1992
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Dutton