Reading List

An important piece of the mission of PFLAG is education. We believe that these books are helpful guides on the road to becoming well-informed about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (glbt) issues. In the spirit of keeping families together and PFLAG’s new Stay Close campaign, many of the following books are geared toward helping families with glbt members understand one another more fully. This list reaches—both in author and subject matter—to individuals of all ages, races, religions, and relationships. As a vast amount of work has been penned and published on sexual orientation and gender identity, we have attempted to recommend the books that are most applicable to today’s society, including works on religion, politics, and history. It is our hope that people will read, enjoy, learn, and of course, stay close!

For more information about the Stay Close campaign, please visit

Compiled by Blake Correa for Metro DC PFLAG February 2005; edited by Andrea Albamonte June 2011

Accepting Your Child

Always my Child: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding your Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, or Questioning Son or Daughter
Kevin Jennings
This book focuses on the day-to-day experiences of adolescents facing sexual identity issues, while providing the insight and advice parents need to both support their children and cope themselves. (2002)

Beyond Acceptance: Parents of Lesbians and Gays Talk About Their Experiences
Carolyn W. Griffin and Marian J. Wirth
Parents of lesbians and gays discuss their experiences, from the initial anger, denial, and guilt to closeness, acceptance, and beyond. (1997)

Coming Out As Parents: You and Your Homosexual Child
David K. Switzer
This complete revision of Parents of the Homosexual helps parents understand their feelings and reactions to the knowledge that their child is a homosexual. Suitable for counselors and clergy too. (1996).

Coming Out to Parents: A Two-Way Survival Guide for Lesbians and Gay Men and Their Parents
Mary. V. Borhek
This book provides insight to either parents or gay individuals as they “come out.” It bridges gaps in understanding what your family member is going through during this process. (1993)

Family Heart: A Memoir of When Our Son Came Out
Robb Forman Dew
Family Heart tells the story of what happened to novelist and PFLAG mom Robb Forman Dew, and her family, when her 19 year old son told her he was gay. (1995)

Love, Ellen: A Mother/Daughter Journey
Betty Degeneres
In this book, Ellen Degeneres’ mother Betty tells her story: the complicated path to acceptance and her deepening friendship with her daughter, media scrutiny, and tales from her experiences being the first non-gay spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign’s National Coming Out Project. (2000) By the same author Just a Mom

My Child is Gay: How Parents React When They Hear the News
Bryce McDougall
Honest stories of parents and the emotions they experienced when their son or daughter told them they were gay. (1998)

Straight Parents, Gay Children: Keeping Families Together
Robert Bernstein
“As one of hundreds of thousands of parents who love our children, I wish this book would be required reading for the world.” – Betty Degeneres (1999)

I’m Their Mom
Denise Kestell
A moving and painfully truthful account of being the mother of two gay sons. Denise’s family and friends have contributed to this journey with their own stories of love and acceptance.

It’s Not About You: Understanding Coming Out & Self Acceptance
Marc Adams
A practical guide for family and friends of those coming out. This books includes a guide for those coming out on how to live life courageously, confidently and consistently.

The New Gay Teenager
Ritch C. Savin-Williams
In this down-to-earth book, filled with the voices of young people speaking for themselves, Ritch Savin-Williams argues that the standard image of gay youth presented by mental health researchers–as depressed, isolated, drug-dependent, even suicidal–may have been exaggerated even twenty years ago, and is far from accurate today. (2006)

Brad Windhauser
If someone in your family has recently made a declaration of their sexual preference and you don’t understand how or why that happened, this book can go a long way towards helping you understand.

About Being Gay

Coming Out: An Act of Love
Rob Eichberg
Written for both men and women, this is a comprehensive step-by-step guide for those attempting to understand their own homosexuality and others reactions to it. (1991)

Is It a Choice? Answers to 300 of the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Gay and Lesbian People
Eric Marcus
Eric Marcus provides honest, no-nonsense answers to hundreds of the most common and simple questions about homosexuality, relationships, family roles, “coming out,” politics, and more. (1999)

Loving Someone Gay
Donald H. Clark
Thoroughly revised for the fourth time, this book offers courageous support and compassionate encouragement for gay men and women and the families and friends that love them, according to Library Journals. (1997)

Outing Yourself: How to Come Out as Lesbian or Gay to Your Family, Friends, and Coworkers
Michelangelo Signorile
Signorile offers structure, guidance, and straightforward advice to anyone struggling with the overwhelming “coming out” process. (1996)

Positively Gay: New Approaches to Gay and Lesbian Life
Betty Berzon and Barney Frank
This is a valuable anthology of useful information about how to live a positive and fulfilling gay life. Identity, success as a couple, coming out, and finance are just a few of the many topics covered in this book. (2001)

Queer Crips: Disabled Gay Men and Their Stories
Bob Guter
Through the intimacy of one-on-one storytelling, gay men with mobility and neuromuscular disorders, spinal cord injury, deafness, blindness, and AIDS, fight isolation from society and each other to establish a public identity and a common culture. (2003)

A Woman Like That: Lesbian and Bisexual Writers Tell Their Coming Out Stories
Joan Larkin
Personal accounts ranging from exhilarating to empowering to heart-wrenching and encompass extensiveness in experience and background.

The History of Swimming
Kim Powers
A memoir about growing up as one of three gay brothers and coming out as a gay student at a small religious college in Texas. “Punched-in-the-gut emotion…raw and engrossing.”

Two Teenagers in Twenty: Writings by Gay & Lesbian Youth
Ann Heron
This revision of the book One in Ten is full of personal, first-hand accounts for teenagers, by teenagers, from all over the country coping with their sexual identification. For ages 13 and up.

The Shared Heart: Portraits and Stories Celebrating Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Young People
Adam Mastoon
Collection of photos of GLBT youth offers a literal look into the struggles of sexual minority teenagers. personal statements by the teens photographed bring to light what it means to be young and gay today.  For ages 13 and up.

GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Queer and Questioning Teens 
Kelly Huegel
This book covers all the basics for GLBTQ teens as well as strives to untie some of the more complicated knots of sexuality, dating, coming out, religion, school, work, and home. (2003) For ages 11 and up.

Coming Out, Coming In: Nurturing the Well-Being and Inclusion of Gay Youth in Mainstream Society
Linda Goldman
Presented from Linda Goldman’s unique perspective as a school guidance counselor, therapist, and mother, this ground-breaking text addresses the social, emotional, educational, and family issues and challenges involved with raising and nurturing a gay adolescent in mainstream society.

If You Believe in Mermaids…Don’t Tell 
A.A. Philips
A coming of age story that will inspire not only children who don’t’ conform to gender norms but any child who has ever been targeted as a misfit. Through Todd’s story, people learn that everyone is different in some way and there is more than one way to be a boy.

What If Someone You Know is Gay?
Eric Marcus
Following his previous books on the subject, openly gay writer Marcus received a barrage of questions from young readers curious to understand their own feelings or the experiences of others. In response, he offers a detailed, reader-friendly, question-and-answer book that covers many topics, shatters myths, and affirms quite honorably the dignity of all people. (2007) For Ages 12-18.

Families with Gay Parents

Families of Value: Intimate Profiles of Pioneering Lesbian and Gay Parents
Robert Bernstein
From a former lawyer, journalist, and author of Straight Parents, Gay Children – intimate, engrossing, and diverse profiles in courage and integrity from across America of the pioneering families who are inevitably moving same-sex parenting into the national mainstream. . . Their unique stories portray the resistance these brave parents have faced, their views of the current cultural climate and, most importantly, the intense passion and dedication that they have devoted to raising sound, healthy, and well-adjusted children.

Love Makes a Family: Portraits of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Parents and Their Families
Gigi Kaeser, Peggy Gillespie, Kath Weston, and April Martin
This picture book uses stunning visuals and accompanied writings from those photographed to show the true beauty in all families. (1999)

9 Lives, I Will Survive
Jan Crossen
Joshua appears to live a charmed life by defying death on several occasions. This is a story of survival, and the interracial adoption of an older, special needs child into a home with two loving and committed mothers.

Children of Gay Parents

How It Feels to Have a Gay or Lesbian Parent: A Book by Kids for Kids of All Ages
Judith E. Snow
This book gives voice to the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of children, adolescents, and young adults who have gay and lesbian parents. The children, in their own words, discuss prejudice, harassment, tolerance, and harmony. (2004) For Young Adults

Families Like Mine: Children of Gay Parents Tell It Like It Is 
Abigail Garner
The author’s father came out when she was five years old, and she now identifies herself as a “culturally queer” heterosexual woman. This book is Abigail’s first hand account of what it is like to grow up with a gay parent. (2004)

For Adult Children of GLBT Parents

Out of the Ordinary: Essays on Growing Up With Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Parents
Noelle Howey, Ellen Samuels, Margarethe Cammermeyer, and Dan Savage
This unprecedented collection of short memoirs by adult children of gay, lesbian, and transgender parents demonstrates that love cannot be policed or regulated, and that the bond between parents and children transcends categories. (2000) For Young Adults and Adult Children of GLBT parents.

Young Children

Heather has Two Mommies 
Leslea Newman and Diana Souza
This now-classic children’s story possesses the enduring message that the most important element in families is love. (2000) For Ages 4-8. By the same author, try: Gloria Goes to Gay Pride (For Ages 9-12)

Daddy’s Roommate
Michale Willhoite
This book for young readers sets a positive tone about homosexual parents. A young, healthy, affectionate boy describes his father’s relationship with his “roommate,” and his own relationship with the men. (1991) For Ages 4-8

Who’s in a Family?
Robert Skutch and Laura Nienhaus
Simple and declarative stories move young readers from one family configuration to the next, offering diversified examples of the modern family. (1997) For Ages 4-8

ABC: A Family Alphabet Book
Bobbie Combs, Desiree Keane, and Brian Rappa
This alphabet book shows families playing together and enjoying twenty-sex different aspects of family life. The brilliant watercolors depict families headed by lesbian mothers and gay fathers. (2001) For Babies through Pre-school. By the same author, try: 123 A Family Counting Book

How My Family Came to Be: Daddy, Papa and Me 
Andrew R. Aldrich and Mike Motz
Provides a fun story about a loving family; a great book showing how all families are different but are alike in the love that they share. (2003) For Ages 4-8

The Boy Who Wanted to be a Dancer
Rod Gambassi
When Bobby’s teacher asks her class what everyone wants to be when they grow up, Bobby is the only one who proudly announces he wants to be a dancer. His classmates don’t understand. They think dancing is just for girls. Bobby asks his parents about that and they encourage him by enrolling him in a dance class. It’s a surprise ending to a book about family, friendship and dance!

Uncle Bobby’s Wedding
Sarah S. Brannen
Chloe is jealous when her favorite Uncle Bobby announces that he is getting married, but as she gets to know Jamie better, she discovers that two uncles are better than one.

And Tango Makes Three
Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Based on the true story of two male penguins in the NYC zoo. (2005) For Ages 4-8.

It’s Okay To Be Different
Todd Parr
Children are reminded that it’s okay to be different, no matter what their differences or similarities. While tolerance of others is one of the themes, self-acceptance is the most important message. (2004) For ages 4-8.


Side by Side: On Having a Gay or Lesbian Sibling 
Andrew R. Gottlieb
In this first of its kind book, Gottlieb attacks various questions about sexuality and siblings: how homosexuality affects siblings, how siblings deal with homophobia, and the dynamic if more than one gay sibling exists. (2004) For Young Adults and Adults


The Other Side of the Closet: The Coming-Out Crisis for Straight Spouses and Families
Amity Pierce Buxton
This book is a comprehensive look at the effects on husbands, wives, and children during the “coming out” process for a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender spouse or parent. (1994)

My Husband is Gay: A Woman’s Survival Guide
Carol Grever
After Grever’s husband came out of the closet, she made an effort to process her confusion and pain by seeking out women of varying backgrounds, ages, and ethnicities with similar stories. (2001)

Married Women Who Love Women
Carren Strock
After 25 years of marriage, Carren Strock fell in love with her best friend. Her book tracks the journey from denial to acceptance, and gives insight into her own family, as well as more than one hundred other women’s stories, families, and lovers. (2000)

Awakening: How a 53 Year Old Wife and Mother “Became” a Lesbian
Pat Stone

A memoir dealing with a woman who comes out after 35 years of marriage and two grown children – including a lesbian daughter, all while president of PFLAG Dallas chapter.

Coming of Age as a Gay or Lesbian Youth

Two Teenagers in Twenty: Writings by Gay & Lesbian Youth
Ann Heron
This revision of the book One in Ten is full of personal, first-hand accounts for teenagers, by teenagers, from all over the country coping with their sexual identification. (1995) For Ages 13 and Up

The Shared Heart: Portraits and Stories Celebrating Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Young People 
Adam Mastoon
Collection of photos of g/l/b/t youth offers a literal look into the struggles of sexual minority teenagers. Personal statements by the teens photographed bring to light what it means to be young and gay today. (1997) For Ages 13 and Up

GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Queer and Questioning Teens 
Kelly Huegel
This book covers all the basics for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning teens, as well as strives to untied some of the more complicated knots of sexuality: dating, “coming out,” religion, school, work, and home. (2003) For Ages 11 and Up

The Preacher’s Son
Marc Adams
Marc Adam’s riveting autobiography reveals his journey out of his parent’s abusive home and religion to a place of freedom and hope.

Fictional Reading

Boy Meets Boy
David Levithan
School Library Journal says: “Levithan’s prophecy of a hate-free world in which everyone loves without persecution makes this a provocative and important read for all young adults, gay or straight.” This tale of teen love is a wonderful escape to an unfortunately fictional place. (2003) For Ages 13 and Up

Pages for You 
Sylvia Brownrigg
An unsentimental look at the things that we do for love, most especially, first love. The young protagonist, Flannery Jansen, falls in love with her teaching assistant and is taken on a ride of firsts, including first betrayal. (2002) For Ages 16 and Up.

Am I Blue? Coming Out from the Silence
Various Authors
This book is an assembly of original stories with gay themes written by many popular children’s and young adult authors. The creative compilation involves tales about growing up gay, or with gay family members or friends. (1995) For Ages 13 and Up

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
Jeanette Winterson
Adopted into an evangelical household, protagonist Jeanette and her family must come to terms with her lesbianism. Award-winning gay novelist Winterson tells this semi-autobiographical narrative honestly, innovatively, and with great humor, while staying true to its love story roots. (1997) For Ages 13 and Up

So Hard to Say
Alex Sanchez
This story alternates narrators between Xio, a bubbly and popular girl, and her friend Frederick, the boy that she wants to be more than friends with. But Frederick finds himself thinking more about soccer boy Victor. As Frederick moves toward self-discovery, both young teens try to balance friendship and love. (2004) For Ages 11 and Up. By the same author: Rainbow High and Rainbow Boys

The Pastor’s Daughter 
Tracy G. Zoeller
Always taking her father’s Bible verses to heart and never questioning authority, Katie is thrown into turmoil when she finds herself romantically attracted to her new friend, Tina. When Katie’s father discovers the true nature of the girl’s friendship, Katie’s life is forever changed.

The Odd Couple 
Q. Kelly
A multiverse of convolutions is the path for two women to meet on common ground and learn to surrender grief to enjoy love.

History, Religion, Politics, and Sexuality

The History of Sexuality : An Introduction
Michel Foucault
The celebrated French thinker Foucault turns his attention to sex and why the western world is so driven to analyze and discuss it. (1990) By the same author, try: The History of Sexuality: The Use of Pleasure

Homosexuality and Civilization
Loius Crompton
How have major civilizations over the last two millennia treated people who were attracted to their own sex? In this narrative masterpiece, Crompton examines the achievements of homosexual men and women ranging from the Christian West through Western Europe and into imperial China and Asia, against an ever-present backdrop of persecution. (2003)

Strangers at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America
Mel White
This true tale is the journey of Mel White—evangelical minister, family man, committed Christian, and gay. In Strangers, White chronicles 25 years of being confused, exorcised, shocked (literally), and nearly driven to suicide. (1995)

The New Testament and Homosexuality
Robin Scroggs
A first-rate biblical scholar introduces the reader to basic principles of biblical interpretation and applying those principles to the (very few) verses that seem to address homosexuality in the New Testament. (1983)

Judaism and Homosexuality: An Authentic Orthodox View
Rabbi Chaim Rapoport
Rapoport addresses homosexual issues raised from the perspective of the holy Torah, not as an attempt to provide definitive answers, but as a basis for consultation, discussion and ultimately decision making. (2004)

Queer Theory and the Jewish Question
Daniel Boyarin
The essays in this volume boldly map the historically resonant intersections between Jewishness and queerness, between homophobia and anti-semitism, and between queer theory and theorizations of Jewishness. (2003)

Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics
Jose Esteban Munoz
In eight essays, Munoz, an assistant professor of performance studies at NYU, explores the political and social impact of black, Latino and Asian performance artists on mainstream culture. (1999)

Same Sex Marriage and the Constitution
Evan Gerstmann
Does the Constitution protect the right to same-sex marriage? Taking a careful look at what he calls one of the most important constitutional issues facing society, Evan Gerstmann looks at the legal debate, and asks whether, in a democratic society, the courts, rather than voters, should resolve the question. (2003)

Voices of Despair and Hope: Putting a Face on Homosexuality
John R. Scudder, Jr. and Anne H. Bishop
This book attempts a new approach on the issue of homosexuality in the church by putting a face on homosexuality through disclosing how persons of faith who are homosexual and their parents experience the church. Their despair and hope is expressed in over fifty interviews with persons who are fundamentalist, mainstream, and liberal Christians. (2004)

Courting Equality: A Documentary History of America’s First Legal Same-Sex Marriages 
Patricia A. Gozemba and Karen Kahn. Photos by Marilyn Humphries.
This book shows both what the struggle for equality looks like and what it feels like…documents an important piece of American history and our national project of expanding fairness and ending discrimination.

Do’s & Don’ts of Dealing with the Religious Right
Marc Adams and Todd Tuttle
The must-have guide. A great tool for family, bloggers and educators.

Since My Last Confession: A Gay Catholic Memoir 
Scott D. Pomfret
When a devout Catholic, porn-writing, sodomite lawyer fights to protect the Massachusetts same-sex marriage laws, he finds that his main adversary is the same Roman Catholic Church he loves and supports with fervor. Since My Last Confession humorously maps the gay Catholic experience from one end of the rainbow to the other.

Transgender Reading

True Selves: Understanding Transsexualism—For Families, Friends, Coworkers, and Helping Professionals
Mildred L. Brown and Chloe Ann Rounsley
According to Booklist editorial reviews, True Selves is filled with wisdom and understanding. This groundbreaking book paints a vivid portrait of conflicts transsexuals face on a daily basis–and the courage they must summon as they struggle to reveal their true being to themselves and others. (2003)

Transgender Care: Recommended Guidelines, Practical Information, and Personal Accounts
Gianna E. Israel, Donald E. Tarver, and Diane Shaffer
Directed to professionals in the health and therapeutic fields, but clear and readable for non-professionals, this book outlines the differences between gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Transgender Care proves to be very useful for those already associated with transgender issues. (1998)

She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders
Jennifer Finney Boylan
Jennifer Finney Boylan’s book offers a look into the true story of the life of a transgendered person. As a mismatched mind and body, the author gives the reader a sense of the confusion that results, that is, until the day James realizes that, he would be happier if he became a woman. (2003)

Ellen Wittlinger
Discover the struggles of a transgender teenager, Grady, who does everything he can to get past the insults and on to a life he truly deserves. With the support of a new ally, Sebastian, and, unexpectedly, the gorgeous senior, Kita Charles, Grady works as hard as he can in search of his identity and strives for acceptance. (2007)

Understanding Bisexuality

Dual Attraction: Understanding Bisexuality 
Martin Weinberg, Colin Williams, and Douglas Pryor
Based on extensive research on gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and heterosexuals, Dual Attraction provides the first major study of bisexuality. (1995)

Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out
Loraine Hutchins and Lani Kaahumanu
This book emphasizes the enormous gray area that lies between gay and straight in modern culture. Bi Any Other Name presents the personal stories of an extraordinarily diverse group of bisexuals. (1991)


And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic
Randy Shiltz
By the time America woke up to the dangers of the AIDS epidemic, the virus had spread to every corner of the nation. The country’s most prominent AIDS reporter answers many of the questions posed by this virus. Against this backdrop, Shilts recounts the heroic stories of individuals and of he gay community. (2004)

Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir
Paul Monette
The story of Paul and Roger starts off as the ultimate love story of two people who found themselves in their partner. Their struggle with Roger’s diagnosis and illness just cements that feeling of absolute oneness. Borrowed Time is a profoundly emotional tale of AIDS and true love from the pen of a gifted writer, according to Publishers Weekly editorial reviews. (1998)

Love Undetectable: Notes on Friendship, Sex, and Survival 
Andrew Sullivan
According to editorial reviews, Love Undetectable is a scholarly, impassioned, wide-ranging, and embattled memoir that is ultimately not about homosexuality or plague, but about humanity and mortality. (1999)

On the Down Low: A Journey Into the Lives of “Straight” Black Men Who Sleep with Men 
J.L. King
King exposes a closeted culture of sex between black men who lead “straight” lives. The trend is proving to have skyrocketing health consequences for wives and girlfriends unwittingly caught in the double lives of their men; one in every 160 black women carries HIV. Interviews, statistics, and first-hand knowledge come together in this book to tell everything an African American woman needs to know on this volatile topic. (2004)

Losing Uncle Tim
Marykate Jordan
In a gentle, realistic story, Daniel describes his friendship with his favorite uncle. Daniel learns that Uncle Tim has AIDS and must come to terms with losing a family member that he loves. (1989) For Ages 6-10

Alex, the Kid with AIDS
Linda Girard
Avoiding both melodrama and excessive information packing, this is a casually told story about the adjustment between a boy with AIDS and his often rambunctious classmates. (1991) For Ages 6-12