Cover image for Gay like me : a father writes to his son
Gay like me : a father writes to his son
1st ed.
Physical Description:
x, 158 pages ; 20 cm.
My son -- Being gay requires double vision -- Visibility is not a cure-all -- Find and ignite your anger -- Coming out and joining in -- Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint -- Complicated/Worth it -- Otherness is a leg up to extraordinary -- Never diminish your essence -- Buttress yourself with gay history -- Have sex in the light -- AIDS is not over -- Character counts, not profile stats -- Grief is a manageable disease -- Dive heart first -- Coming out is every day -- Words matter -- It's still a straight man's world -- Being a good gay citizen -- Stonewall50 -- This parent's prayer.
Personal Subject:
When Richie Jackson's son born through surrogacy comes out to him at the age of 18, Richie - now in his 50s, a successful producer and happily married - feels compelled to write him a letter. Gay Like Me is both a celebration of gay identity and a sorrowful warning. Jackson talks of his own progress and growth as a gay man coming of age through decades of political and cultural change. We've come a long way, he argues: discrimination is now outlawed in most states, gay men and women can marry, and there are drugs available to protect against AIDS. His son is going to be living in a newly liberated America. However, he also argues that nothing can be taken for granted. Bigotry and hatred still exist, nurtured by a President who draws votes and support by stirring up fear of The Other, and excluding minorities and anyone who can be labelled 'an outsider'. A newly constituted Supreme Court could revoke laws and turn the clock back. The gay identity can be worn with pride, but gay citizens needs always to be aware that their gains are fragile. Like Between the World and Me, this is a response to our times, and will strike a powerful chord with anyone who cares about human rights and the importance of tolerance and social progress. Angry, proud, moved, tender, this is also a powerful letter of love from a father to a son, relevant to everyone. --


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 306.7662 JAC 1 1
Book 306.7662 JAC 1 1
Book 306.7662 JAC 0 1

On Order



Chosen by Town & Country as one of the most anticipated books of the year | Named "An LGBTQ Book That'll Change the Literary Landscape in 2020" by O: The Oprah Magazine

In this poignant and urgent love letter to his son, award-winning Broadway, TV and film producer Richie Jackson reflects on his experiences as a gay man in America and the progress and setbacks of the LGBTQ community over the last 50 years.

"My son is kind, responsible, and hardworking. He is ready for college. He is not ready to be a gay man living in America."

When Jackson's son born through surrogacy came out to him at age 15, the successful producer, now in his 50s, was compelled to reflect on his experiences and share his wisdom on life for LGBTQ Americans over the past half-century.

Gay Like Me is a celebration of gay identity and parenting, and a powerful warning for his son, other gay men and the world. Jackson looks back at his own journey as a gay man coming of age through decades of political and cultural turmoil.

Jackson's son lives in a seemingly more liberated America, and Jackson beautifully lays out how far we've come since Stonewall -- the increased visibility of gay people in society, the legal right to marry, and the existence of a drug to prevent HIV. But bigotry is on the rise, ignited by a president who has declared war on the gay community and fanned the flames of homophobia. A newly constituted Supreme Court with a conservative tilt is poised to overturn equality laws and set the clock back decades. Being gay is a gift, Jackson writes, but with their gains in jeopardy, the gay community must not be complacent.

As Ta-Nehisi Coates awakened us to the continued pervasiveness of racism in America in Between the World and Me, Jackson's rallying cry in Gay Like Me is an eye-opening indictment to straight-lash in America. This book is an intimate, personal exploration of our uncertain times and most troubling questions and profound concerns about issues as fundamental as dignity, equality, and justice.

Gay Like Me is a blueprint for our time that bridges the knowledge gap of what it's like to be gay in America. This is a cultural manifesto that will stand the test of time. Angry, proud, fierce, tender, it is a powerful letter of love from a father to a son that holds lasting insight for us all.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Broadway producer Jackson chronicles his life as a gay man in America over the past 50 years in this heartfelt debut written as a letter to his college-bound gay son. Highlighting the differences between older and younger generations of the gay community, Jackson notes that he came out to his mother in 1984, at the height of the AIDS epidemic. He chronicles early sexual experiences; describes his relationships with his husband, theater owner Jordan Roth, and his son's other father, actor B.D. Wong; thanks such mentors as actor Harvey Fierstein, who "modeled being a good gay citizen"; and celebrates the LGBTQ artists and writers who "showed me that my own thread of otherness is part of a great expanse of a bright human fabric." He stresses the importance of knowing gay cultural and political history, and warns that the gay community's "brief liberation has emboldened our adversaries," including Donald Trump (who was a guest at his wedding to Roth). Jackson's sincerity shines through, even when he takes a back seat in his own story to focus on the representative experiences of his generation. LGBTQ readers on both ends of the age spectrum will value this earnest attempt to build a bridge between generations. Agent: Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, William Morris Endeavor. (Jan.)

Kirkus Review

A father advises his son on their mutual homosexualitythe reasons to celebrate and the challenges they facein a book that shows what has changed in recent decades and what hasn't.As his older son prepared to leave for college, TV producer Jackson wrote to him, "I am enthused for the flight ahead of you; I am apprehensive of the fight ahead of you." The author was enthused because he attributes so much of what has enriched his life to his sexual orientation. He says that he would choose to be gay. He also knew early on that he would choose to be a father, and he clearly loves that his son can experience the same joy in his sexual identity as he has. However, he also fears that he and his husband have minimized the ongoing threat of homophobia in giving their son a safe and sheltered childhood. "You are leaving home and entering a riptide of hate," writes Jackson, "and we taught you as a child never to swim directly into a riptide, always swim with it, parallel to where you want to be. Not so with this fierce current. Here you have to join the battle to fight just as I did. The only way to safe shore is forward." Though the narrative only presents one side of the conversation, the author acknowledges that his son thinks being gay isn't that big a deal and that the emphasis his father places on it is anachronistic in a time of pride marches, gay marriage, and legal advances. Jackson, however, sees abundant evidence of backsliding in the age of Trump, who, ironically, was an enthusiastic guest at the author's wedding. "The grief, the dread, the fear, the carefulness, is my ball and chain," writes Jackson. "It goes where I go. You are not weighted down by any of this. It's a history lesson for you." He wants his son to internalize that history.An easily digestible collection of lessons recommended for readers struggling with their sexual identities. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Library Journal Review

Like the famous letter of James Baldwin to his nephew in The Fire Next Time, Jackson's first book, a letter to his gay son, is full of personal experience and sage advice. This beautifully written book is a love letter from one generation of gay men to another. Jackson, a Broadway, television and film producer (Shortbus, Nurse Jackie), reflects on his life while imparting to his son the lessons he's learned throughout his life about topics such as falling in love and being knowledgeable about LGBTQ history. He writes eloquently about surviving the AIDS epidemic, and argues convincingly about the conflict between the joys of being gay and the struggles it sometimes entails. Many will be able to relate to his descriptions of coming out, along with his first sexual experience, or observe these same occasions with heartfelt recognition. Jackson's observations on the AIDS quilt are especially touching. VERDICT Beautifully written with crystalline prose, most anyone could profit from reading this love letter from a parent to a child, whether they are gay or not.--David Azzolina, Univ. of Pennsylvania Libs., Philadelphia