A father advises his son on their mutual homosexuality—the reasons to celebrate and the challenges they face—in a book that shows what has changed in recent decades and what hasn’t.
As his older son prepared to leave for college, TV producer Jackson wrote to him, “I am enthused for the flight ahead of you; I am apprehensive of the fight ahead of you.” The author was enthused because he attributes so much of what has enriched his life to his sexual orientation. He says that he would choose to be gay. He also knew early on that he would choose to be a father, and he clearly loves that his son can experience the same joy in his sexual identity as he has. However, he also fears that he and his husband have minimized the ongoing threat of homophobia in giving their son a safe and sheltered childhood. “You are leaving home and entering a riptide of hate,” writes Jackson, “and we taught you as a child never to swim directly into a riptide, always swim with it, parallel to where you want to be. Not so with this fierce current. Here you have to join the battle to fight just as I did. The only way to safe shore is forward.” Though the narrative only presents one side of the conversation, the author acknowledges that his son thinks being gay isn’t that big a deal and that the emphasis his father places on it is anachronistic in a time of pride marches, gay marriage, and legal advances. Jackson, however, sees abundant evidence of backsliding in the age of Trump, who, ironically, was an enthusiastic guest at the author’s wedding. “The grief, the dread, the fear, the carefulness, is my ball and chain,” writes Jackson. “It goes where I go. You are not weighted down by any of this. It’s a history lesson for you.” He wants his son to internalize that history.
An easily digestible collection of lessons recommended for readers struggling with their sexual identities.