What “It Gets Better” has done to help LGBTQ youth, author John Schwartz is looking to do for parents of those same kids with Oddly Normal: One Family’s Struggle to Help Their Teenage Son Come to Terms with His Sexuality, one of the featured books at this year’s Vancouver Jewish Book Festival.
“Dan Savage has done miracles through the It Gets Better Project, but my wife and I felt no one was telling parents that,” explains Schwartz. “For my wife and me [writing the book] was about telling a parent of any kid who is different, and who is miserable about being different, that we can embrace, support and help them to be happy with themselves.”
Embracing and supporting their own gay son came through a near tragic 2009 suicide attempt by their then 13 year old son Joseph and with it a need to understand and heal. As a reporter for the New York Times, Schwartz turned to the best way he knew how.
“Writing the book helped make everything gel for us,” says Schwartz. “Everything we had been through was still very raw: the problems that Joe had in elementary and middle school, the incidences of bullying, not fitting in, but then also the upswing as things got better, as he started to find himself and feel more comfortable about who he was.”