Synopses & Reviews
Although acceptance of difference is on the rise in America, its the rare gay or lesbian person who has not been demeaned because of his or her sexual orientation, and this experience usually starts at home, among family members.
Whether they are excluded from family love and approval, expected to accept second-class status for life, ignored by mainstream arts and entertainment, or abandoned when intervention would make all the difference, gay people are routinely subjected to forms of psychological and physical abuse unknown to many straight Americans.
Familial homophobia,” as prizewinning writer and professor Sarah Schulman calls it, is a phenomenon that until now has not had a name but that is very much a part of life for the LGBT community. In the same way that Susan Brownmillers Against Our Will transformed our understanding of rape by moving the stigma from the victim to the perpetrator, Schulmans Ties That Bind calls on us to recognize familial homophobia. She invites us to understand it not as a personal problem but a widespread cultural crisis. She challenges us to take up our responsibilities to intervene without violating families, community, and the state. With devastating examples, Schulman clarifies how abusive treatment of homosexuals at home enables abusive treatment of homosexuals in other relationships as well as in society at large.
Ambitious, original, and deeply important, Schulmans book draws on her own experiences, her research, and her activism to probe this complex issuestill very much with us at the start of the twenty-first centuryand to articulate a vision for a more accepting world.
A message that needs to be heard in all its complexity. People should read this book.
Lambda Book Report
Ties That Bind is one of the most exciting gay liberation texts to appear in years...this is a rewarding, wide-ranging, and challenging work from an original mind and a talented pen, one that will make you think and help you live.
Doug Ireland, Gay City News
Schulman boldly declares that visibility is a failed strategy for cultural change.
[Schulman is] a writer who has played a pivotal role in the cultural and political spheres of the gay community.
To call her book [Ties That Bind] pioneering would be redundant. . . . With its personal appeals, its call to arms or rather, ethics and its advice for therapists, family members, and gay people, I continue to be struck by the books usefulness above all else. . . .[I]t gives me hope that one day just as Schulman stipulates homophobia could actually be a punishable crime, we could be liberated from the systematic shame and humiliation that currently defines our culture, and in that liberation necessarily granted the rights that
weve lived without all this time.
Schulmans lucid dissection of the role that families play as incubators of homophobia could hardly be better. This [is] a truly indispensable book. It should blow away the hot air generated by the public debate about family values.
Andrew Ross, chair of the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at York University
Sarah Schulman Ties That Bind tackles the familial and cultural homophobia that still pervade our society. She starkly lays out the fundamental immorality of such shunning behavior and its destructive consequences for everyone involved. This is an important and original book.
Martin Duberman, award-winning historian, biographer, playwright, and gay rights activist
Sarah Schulman is brilliant, vulnerable, and relentless. Ties That Bindshould be required reading for every familygay and straight.
Ellen Bass, poet and author of The Courage to Heal
A cri de coeur woven into a Utopian vision.
Susan Brownmiller, author of Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape
Sarah has taught me a great deal over the years of our being fellow activists and this book teaches me even more.
About the Author
is the author of nine novels, four nonfiction books, and numerous plays. A recipient of a Guggenheim and a Fulbright, Schulman is a professor of English at the City University of New York, College of Staten Island, and a fellow at the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University.