NEW YORK, NY NOVEMBER 14, 2022 In 2020 the United States Supreme Court ruled that 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex. But now Florida's "Don't Say Gay/Trans" law plus another 300+ virulently discriminatory bills have made 2022 the worst year ever for legislative assaults on LGBTQ people. And horrendous attacks on safe spaces like Club Q in Colorado Springs underscore LGBTQ people's vulnerability in a climate of hate speech from far right organizations, pundits, and politicians.
This moment bears resemblance to a time in our not-to-distant past: In 1977 a county ordinance was passed in Florida which banned discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodation based on sexual orientation. After Anita Bryant's successful "Save Our Children" campaign which demonized gays and lesbians, the law was overturned, and it launched a wave of repeals of civil rights for gays and lesbians in other states.
Incensed by Save Our Children's hateful slogan, "Homosexuals cannot reproduce, so they must recruit," author Joe Gantz decided to attack head-on the rhetoric that gays and lesbians were a danger to children. He located five same-sex headed households in different parts of the nation, embedded with each family for a week, and from 19791983 interviewed these lesbian and gay parents and their children about what effects the fear-mongering and anti-gay pressures had on them.
The resulting foundational book, A SECRET I CAN'T TELL: THE FIRST GENERATION OF CHILDREN FROM OPENLY GAY AND LESBIAN HOMES by Joe Gantz (Carpenter Hill Publishing, 2022, paperback, $15.99, kindle edition $9.99), updated in 2022 with new interviews from some of the children (now adults in their 50s) and a new foreword by Scott Gatz, founder and CEO of Q.Digital, tracks the effects of keeping their parents' relationships a secret in a time when it was dangerous to be out, particularly as a gay or lesbian parent. In addition to the loving, joyful, and supportive families that parents built, the book also shows how they struggled coming out to their children without any community or legal support, or even representation in the media at that time. The secrecy these families had to maintain forced the kids into a kind of a closet along with their parents, and the effects have lasted decades.
Today's political climate in which zealots intentionally whip up anti-LGBTQ hatred, replete with baseless and appalling claims about "groomers" or conflating school lessons about LGBTQ history with teaching sex, and in a time when there's a conservative supermajority on the Supreme Court ready to dismantle the Obergefell (2015) or Bostock (2020) decisions that guaranteed important civil rights, it's vital to understand that LGBTQ families are not statistics, but real people. In this book, families tell us who they arein their own words.
Comments on "A Secret I Can't Tell"
"A moving testimony to the courage, determination and inventiveness of same-sex parents who battled against all odds to create loving, happy families."
Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner and gay rights activist
"…four decades ago, as now, the kids of pioneering gay parents had their share of complaints, too, alongside joys, triumphs, and love. All are skillfully rendered in the family vignettes that make up the bulk of A Secret I Can't Tell."
Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry
"…we must remember that, back in the 1970s and 1980s, lesbian and gay mothers and fathers suffered tremendous shame for having challenged the traditional model of heterosexual parenting…. As both a psychotherapist and sexologist, I hold this iconic book in very high regard indeed."
Professor Brett Kahr, Senior Fellow at the Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology in London
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joe Gantz is a writer and award-winning documentary filmmaker. He is the producer of Taxicab Confessions, which was on HBO for 16 years, as well as many feature length documentaries, including American Winter, Ending Disease and The Race to Save the World. For more: joegantz.com