cover image Raised by Unicorns: Stories from People with LGBTQ+ Parents

Raised by Unicorns: Stories from People with LGBTQ+ Parents

Edited by Frank Lowe. Cleis, $17.95 trade paper (216p) ISBN 978-1-62778-256-2

This uplifting anthology of essays by people who were raised by lesbian and gay parents largely conveys the expected upbeat message that loving households produced happy, functional adults. Other themes do emerge, among them the shame experienced by children confronted with bigotry from a young age and the guilt they may feel later over having managed it imperfectly, as when Emily Grubbs recounts advising her little brother not to tell people he has two mothers after he was teased on the bus. “We essentially shoved ourselves back into the closet, hidden, and ashamed,” she writes. Other essayists express their frustration at their unrecognized status within LGBTQ communities. Persis Ticknor-Swanson, a straight woman with lesbian moms, describes feeling excluded by the LGBTQ community at her college. The family models depicted in the collection are not all that diverse—for example, there are no apparent transgender parents, and the majority of authors have mothers who were previously married to men and are now described as lesbians and partnered with women—but the individual experiences are hardly uniform, even within the context of a single family. “One Coin, Two Sides,” an essay written by siblings, wonderfully illustrates their differing experiences of being raised by two mothers (“Until reading my sister’s [part of the] essay, I hadn’t even considered the differences between our experiences... but they are significant,” the brother notes earnestly). The contributors aren’t professional writers, which shows, but the book is nevertheless noteworthy for showcasing a rarely heard perspective. [em](June) [/em]

This review has been updated to reflect the fact that, while no parents are identified in any essay in the book as transgender, one is. As originally published, the review stated that no transgender parents were mentioned in the book.