Abigail Garner was five years old when her father came out as gay and moved in with another man. Twenty-three years later, Garner is a nationally recognized writer and advocate for gay family rights. According to the national gay and lesbian newsmagazine The Advocate, Garner is among the “frontline soldiers in the fight for gay acceptance.” She has been a featured guest on National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation, and has been published in Newsweek with her 'My Turn' commentary, 'Don't Protect Me: Give Me Your Respect.' Garner consults with numerous organizations regarding LGBT family issues, including political organizations, counseling services, and adoption agencies. She has collaborated closely with LGBT family organizations, such as COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere) PFLAG (Parents Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays), and the Straight Spouse Network.
Garner's new book, Families Like Mine: Children of Gay Parents Tell It Like It Is, intertwines her experiences growing up with a gay father and straight mother with those of other children who were raised by lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender parents. She doesn't flinch from addressing the complex issues surrounding what it means for children raised in LGBT families, herself included, to be, in the words of advocate Stefan Lynch, 'culturally queer, erotically straight.' Vanity Fair calls the book 'indispensable.'
There are approximately 10 million children in the United States who have at least one parent who is gay or lesbian. Should gay and lesbian people be allowed to adopt or foster children' Do gay parents raise their children to also be gay' Questions like these spark heated debates about family and sexuality among politicians, religious leaders, schools and the media. The focus of these debates is typically on the rights of the gay parents themselves, seldom looking at the children’s perspective. Meanwhile, gay and lesbian people continue to become parents through adoption, fostering, surrogacy, donor insemination, and previous heterosexual marriages.
Weaving her own childhood memories with the stories of other sons and daughters, Garner's thought-provoking presentation provides an honest portrayal of the diverse experiences of children living in gay families. She represents a population that is seldom heard, mainly due to families’ fears of harassment and custody battles. Whether these children grow up in supportive communities or endure daily harassment, they all know that plenty of people disapprove of'and even hate'their parents. Garner speaks on behalf of those who are caught in the middle of the political and moral debates: the children, who just want to be safe with the families who love them.
Garner was raised in Minneapolis in two households by three parents: her mother, her father, and her father’s partner of 23 years. She returned to her hometown after earning a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Wellesley College. In 1992, she received the Twin Cities International Citizen Award for her commitment to non-violence at the height of the nuclear arms race. She was also awarded the Rees Peace Award in 1990 by the National Council of Jewish Women.
Abigail’s message of justice and equality reaches audiences through a variety of media. She brings the family perspective to Fresh Fruit (KFAI-FM), the longest-running LGBT radio program in the United States. Her commentaries on LGBT families and allies are published throughout the country and have twice received the “Best Column” award by the Minnesota Magazine and Publications Association. And through her website, FamiliesLikeMine.com, she receives requests for advice and resources from LGBT families all over the world.
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