Not to be confused with Chastity Bono’s book with the same title, Troy Johnson’s memoir, Family Outing, is about growing up the son of a lesbian mom in the 1980’s and 90’s. Johnson opens his story by recounting the difficulties his sister and he faced as the children of a lesbian, feminist motherâ€“he received a doll as a Christmas present instead of his Barbie-deprived sister. He then takes the reader on a tour of his troubled younger years. Johnson convincingly channels his younger self in his proseâ€“the humor owing much to National Lampoon. A self-described juvenile delinquent susceptible to moments of rage, he traces the cause of his behavior to learning about his mother’s sexual orientation at the age of ten from one of his mother’s ex-lovers.
In college, after almost being expelled for a homophobic outburst, Johnson faces the truth about his feelings about his mother, her lesbianism, and finally accepts her. The should-be “moment” of the memoir, a conversation shortly thereafter with his mother about writing a book for kids of gays, feels forced and oddly unemotional. The book ends with the adult Johnson and his girlfriend celebrating at the San Diego pride parade.
In author Scott Douglas’ advance praise, he accurately describes the book as such: “This book isn’t about growing up with a gay mother as much as it is about simply growing up.” Recommended for public libraries with significantly large LGBT collections.
Reviewed by Analisa Ornelas
Seattle Public Library