Speaking Out: Families of LGBTQ+ Advance the Dialogue

Speaking Out: Families of LGBTQ+ Advance the Dialogue

Esther Schwartz-McKinzie

Speaking Out: Families of LGBTQ+ Advance the Dialogue is an interview project inspired by the author’s daughter in the spirit of pushing back against current hateful anti-LGBTQ+ politics and trends. Including 19 interviews with LGBTQ+ people and parents of LGBTQ+ people who describe their journeys and their growth over time, the book is intended to provide connection and to suggest pathways—ones to take and to avoid—for people who may be struggling with their children or families. Coming from a wide range of backgrounds and experience, the participants share their stories as a form of activism, in the hopes that giving readers the opportunity to know them will start to dissolve stereotypes and promote acceptance. They address a range of topics, but all answer the question, “What do you want to say to the parents of LGBTQ+ people?”


These families had different starting points: some had to deal with the dissonance of beliefs and perspectives that too often cause people to reject their children; others, though lacking such baggage, still had to deal with minority stress and with how that has affected their children (and them). Full-length interviews resist hyper-abbreviated ways of sharing and knowing. Proposing connection and visibility as a response to bullying and hatred, they invite readers to dwell for a moment with the courage of LGBTQ+ people and their families, and to admire and celebrate their resilience.




"As a longtime LGBTQ+ advocate and now the parent of an LGBTQ+ identified teenager, I deeply appreciate this work and the approach. We see more people coming out at younger ages and it gives me hope— but also demonstrates the need for more resources like this one. Research has shown the life-saving impact of family acceptance and how the sharing of stories has the power to change hearts and minds. The difference here is that this book collects the journeys of both LGBTQ+ people and parents of LGBTQ+ people who share the challenges they faced and offer candid insight into their growth over time. These stories emphasize how LGBTQ+ youth deserve our very best, which includes listening and responding in ways that are genuinely thoughtful, sincere, and loving."
—Cathy Renna, Director of Communications, National LGBTQ Task Force


“I was hesitant at first to read Speaking Out: Families of LGBTQ+ Advance the Dialogue because so often, stories that include family members end up overshadowing our own stories and wellbeing, as though we only exist in terms of how we affect others. At best they tend to be cookie cutter in nature. But Esther Schwartz-McKinzie produced instead a rare gem of sincere, complex, and respectful interviews of both family members and LGBTQ people with a warmth and intimacy that makes it very clear her whole heart is engaged with this work and with our community. I look forward to re-reading it many times.”

—Robin Lombard, MoCo Pride Center


"All LGBTQ+ folks and allies will gain from reading Speaking Out: Families of LGBTQ+ Advance the Dialogue. This beautiful book reflects the lives of young queer people and their parents—navigating to find their truest selves, and fighting for safety and acceptance for their children.  What refreshing and hopeful voices, especially in these days of fear-mongering and division. I only wish my mother—who came out at 50—were here to read it so we could compare notes!"

—Deborah Craig, San Francisco State Public Health Department, Documentary Film Director / Producer


"An inspiring guide for parents navigating new, sometimes difficult terrain when a child comes out."

Kirkus Reviews


“These paired accounts represent a sea change in acceptance of sexual diversities, an encouraging multi-generational cheer. Wishing my parents had been able to read this book when I was growing up and glad to have this compelling resource for all of us now.”

—Loraine Hutchins, co-editor, Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out


"Esther Schwartz-McKinzie’s Speaking Out: Families of LGBTQ+ Advance the Dialogue is a collection of personal narratives that provide complex and nuanced understandings of the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community. The interviews illustrate the necessity of supportive families and communities, and make clear what’s at risk without them. The stories are impactful and inspiring, and, hopefully, will urge readers to action."

—Heather Rellihan, co-editor, Theory and Praxis: Women's and Gender Studies at Community Colleges 


Esther Schwartz-McKinzie

Esther Schwartz-McKinzie earned her BA from Bard College and her PhD in 19th Century British and American literature from Temple University. Her scholarly work includes efforts to recover the voices of marginalized women writers who used literature as a way to expose injustice and to expand imaginative possibilities for their readers. As a professor of English, Literature and Women’s Studies at Montgomery College, she has worked to promote access to the humanities, improve the well-being of student veterans, and to reduce violence against women and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Her chapter, “Keep ‘Doing Good’: Women’s and Gender Studies Programs and VAWA Education Initiatives Against the Tide” appeared in Theory and Praxis, Women’s and Gender Studies at Community Colleges in 2019. Also in 2019, she was among the first recipients of the College’s Excellence in Equity Award, recognizing individuals who demonstrate a commitment to social justice, equity, inclusion, antiracism, and diversity. Her photography and poetry have appeared in the Sligo Journal.

Esther can often be found hiking the verdant parks and trails of Montgomery County with her husband, Matthew, and their two dogs.

Esther Schwartz-McKinzie