Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Troy Johnson's Family Outing- More Reviews

Reviews are trickling in little by little about Troy Johnson's hilarious memoir, Family Outing. It's funny how you recognize media consolidation when the same review appears on a dozen newspaper sites, but I guess that's the way of the world. It's like the time I was at dog park and was interviewed about the Bush administration's policy of listening in on international calls without search warrants. I thought I was being interviewed for North County Times and ended up on websites nationwide as an AP article, saying,

"Not so fast, says Rosey Bystrak, who works for an architectural firm in
San Diego. "Bush thinks he's a king and not a president, so it doesn't surprise
me," she says, referring to the recent revelation that after 9/11, the president
authorized the interception of communications between the US and other countries
without a judge's approval.

Yeah, that was weird. For a time, if you Googled my name, it came up in hundreds of papers with the same quote. Had I known that, I might have attempted greater eloquence of my political position. Turned out the guy interviewing me was the son of a teacher at my elementary school, so he took me off guard. Still, the more widespread the reviews for Troy Johnson, the better, because the book is so good, he deserves all the attention.

From Bay Windows, Windy City Times
Troy Johnson’s new book Family Outing is a scathing, funny, ribald case study in what can go wrong when that honesty and openness are missing. At 10 years old, in the middle of the Reagan era, Johnson found out his divorced mother was a lesbian when her ex-girlfriend outed her. His descent into juvenile delinquency, alcohol, and heterosexual promiscuity might seem like proof of the ultra-right’s assertion that LGBT people shouldn’t have children, but Johnson makes it clear the root causes were the secrecy, homophobia, and shame imposed by society, not his mother’s sexuality itself.

The book chronicles his journey to this realization without sugarcoating his own initial bigotry. Instead of "feel-good psychobabble about ’embracing our differences’" he says, "someone needed to say exactly what a shallow, self-absorbed teenager thought about the situation while he was experiencing it." He spends most of his adolescence trying to reassure himself he is not also gay. His chapter on COLAGE is titled "Freaks Everywhere." Even in the early chapters, though, he weaves in pointed observations about homophobia and religious bigotry that hint at a transformation to come: "One day you’re nodding along [at church], going ’Yep, they’re going to hell. Yep, them, too. Fry those suckers!’ Then the next day it’s ’Yep, they’re going, too - wait, what? Mom?"

This is a story of personal growth and redemption, a tale of coming-of-age as well as coming out as a member of an LGBT family. Johnson’s message is stronger because he never makes the process seem easy.
From Gay Bee

Family Outing tells the story of the angst-filled teen years of a young man coming to terms with having a lesbian mother. To make matters worse, the way he found out his mom was gay was less than ideal for any kid. The cards were stacked against him having a healthy, open relationship with his mom. Family Outing details his journey from that place into one of more open acceptance and understanding. Beneath all of the pain and acting out, however, is simply a kid who loves his mom and wants to feel safe. It’s a theme we can all identify with. Family Outing is very well written and humorous. The author has a fresh, sarcastic way of communication, and in telling his own story he comments on society at large, our strengths and our shortcomings.
If you haven't read it yet, pick it up. Honestly, its a quick read and you'll be done in a couple days and you'll love it. Everyone's a voyeur in some way, and Troy invites you right in.

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