Coming Out without the Sturm und Drang

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Becoming Who I Am: Young Men on Being Gay
by Ritch C. Savin-Williams
Harvard. 322 pages, $27.95

 

 

IMAGINE collecting all your most awkward, embarrassing, and dreamy adolescent moments from your first gay crush, coming out to friends and family, first sexual experience, that dating disaster, the love of your life, and the breakup. Now multiply that by seventeen, and you have a feeling for Ritch Savin-Williams’ Becoming Who I Am.

Savin-Williams is a developmental psychologist and the director of the Sex & Gender Lab at Cornell University, where he has been conducting research on the psychosexual development of gay, lesbian, and bisexual teens for three decades. He has been prodigiously productive in examining sexual developmental milestones, sexual identity labels, and sexual minority psychology throughout the lifespan. He was highlighting sexual and gender fluidity way before “genderqueer” registered on the cultural radar. His work is characterized by an unusual optimism about LGBT teens. While much of the published literature on this group emphasizes high rates of bullying, depression, substance use, HIV risk, marginalization, and suicide, Savin-Williams, in this book and in his The New Gay Teenager (2005), cheerfully exclaims: “The kids are all right!”

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