Odd­ly Nor­mal: One Fam­i­ly’s Strug­gle to Help Their Teenage Son Come to Terms with His Sexuality

  • From the Publisher
April 30, 2012
Three years ago, John Schwartz, a nation­al cor­re­spon­dent at The New York Times, got the call that every par­ent hopes nev­er to receive: his thir­teen-year-old son, Joe, was in the hos­pi­tal fol­low­ing a failed sui­cide attempt. After final­ly mus­ter­ing the courage to come out to his class­mates, Joe’s dis­clo­sure — deliv­ered in a tirade about sex­ist and homo­pho­bic atti­tudes — was greet­ed with dis­may and con­fu­sion by his fel­low stu­dents. Hours lat­er, he took an over­dose of pills.

John and his wife, Jeanne, found that their son’s school was unable to address his needs. Angry and frus­trat­ed, they launched their own search for ser­vices and groups to help Joe under­stand that he wasn’t alone. John and Jeanne reached out to friends they came to think of as the League of Gay Uncles, includ­ing their rab­bi, who helped guide them toward a hap­pi­er Joe.

Schwartz fol­lows Joseph through child­hood to the present day, inter­weav­ing the nar­ra­tive with com­mon ques­tions, includ­ing: Are effem­i­nate boys and tomboy girls nec­es­sar­i­ly gay? Is there a rela­tion­ship between being gay and sui­cide or men­tal ill­ness? Odd­ly Nor­mal has cru­cial lessons about help­ing gay kids –and any kid who is dif­fer­ent — learn how to cope in a poten­tial­ly hos­tile world.


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