Out of the Ordinary Summary

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Out of the Ordinary

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Noelle Howey and Ellen Samuels have produced an anthology of personal essays that stands apart from similar collections giving voice to the family experience of sexual minorities in America. Certainly there has been a lot of talk, much of it legal or clinical, about the children of gay parents; and a number of gay and transgender people have written about the challenges and rewards of parenthood. But Out of the Ordinary: Essays on Growing Up with Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Parents is the first text in which the adult children of these parents have been able to speak for themselves.

In a sense, this slim but packed volume could not really have been put together before now, since it took a generation of gay, lesbian, and transgender people having families to provide material for such a project. Even so, the editors admit in their introduction that it was not all that easy to find their twenty-one contributors. For one thing, organizations do not really exist to connect these children, but beyond that, many of these families are still closeted about members who are perceived as “different” by their communities (six pseudonyms appear). Nevertheless, Howey and Samuels have managed to assemble a racially, ethnically, and regionally diverse group of writers—half of them first-time authors—who effectively convey a fairly broad range of “alternative” family experiences.

The stories of these men and women, whether they are angry or funny, optimistic or tragic, all suggest that despite the progress that has been made towards acceptance of non-traditional family structures, there is still plenty of intolerance and mean- spiritedness out...

(The entire section is 408 words.)