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

Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013, 9:08 am

In brief


An emotional story all parents should read, not just parents of LGBT youth. I wish every LGBT teen could have parents like this.

The books opens with a scenario no parent wants to encounter: Jeanne Schwartz finds her 13-year-old son, Joe, in the bathroom after he has just taken several pills in an attempt to commit suicide. Turns out Joe had been dropping hints at school that he might be gay. Thankfully, the suicide attempt was unsuccessful, but it served as a catalyst to propel the Schwartz family into action.

This moving memoir recounts how Joe's parents learned to help him become comfortable in his own skin. Jeanne and John Schwartz are two of the most supportive parents around. All parents should read this. It is not just about helping your LGBT child. It is about embracing your child's uniqueness, advocating for them and helping them figure out their own path in life.

I would have given this book five stars, but I felt like John Schwartz tried to find too much correlation between his son's learning disabilities and his sexuality. I'm not sure I buy that.

Also, hindsight is 20/20. Joe's parents began questioning his sexual orientation as early as kindergarten. It's easy to look back and see the "signs," but I'm not comfortable assigning a sexual orientation to a five year-old. My eight-year-old son loves to paint his nails and begs me to dye his hair purple (just like Joe in this story!). Should he come out to me someday, I will be just as supportive as Jeanne and John, but he's still figuring out who he is and I'm not comfortable labeling him.

The thing to remember is that this is Jeanne, John and Joe's journey, and they handled it beautifully.