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Gay Like Me: A Father Writes to His Son

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  478 ratings  ·  93 reviews
In this poignant and urgent love letter to his son, award-winning Broadway, TV and film producer Richie Jackson reflects on his experiences as a gay man in America and the progress and setbacks of the LGBTQ community over the last 50 years.

“My son is kind, responsible, and hardworking. He is ready for college. He is not ready to be a gay man living in America.”

When Jackson
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published January 28th 2020 by Harper
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lgbt
The naiveté it takes to use a W.E.B. DuBois quote about the black experience, in order to describe the [white] gay experience, while failing to talk even once about white privilege in the LGBT community is upsetting. In fact, Richie Jackson's "Gay Like Me" left me wondering: if a gay father is writing a letter about "being gay" to his gay son in 2020, is it irresponsible to remain silent on the ways in which white gays have gained numerous privileges while their trans and PoC siblings have not?

Nov 25, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: reviewed, all-lgbtq
this book is for HRC members who think Ellen and Rupaul are good role models. neoliberal, really reductive. multiple times he uses rhetoric and quotes directly from black liberation movements, and just applies the exact same thing to gayness?? like w.e.b. dubois, audre lorde, etc, and does the thing that white liberals constantly do — referencing a couple common ideas from black radical work and not engaging with their work as a whole or from any sort of radical perspective.

also repeatedly misus
George K. Ilsley
Apr 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gay, non-fiction, memoir, lgbtq
When I was 18, I wanted to hear "It gets better" and "There are other people like you." In this book, written by a gay father to his gay son, he says, "It's a cruel world out there and you have to be careful."

When women are told to be aware of their surroundings, that is considered victim blaming. When a young man is told to be aware of his surroundings, that is considered good advice. We all need to be aware of our surroundings.

I had a complicated reaction to this book. On one hand, the writer
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I had to compare this book to another, I would say it’s similar to “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates but a gay man writing to his gay son, instructing him how to survive in a straight world. This book is a memoir, a love letter, a warning. it is urgent, prescient, emotional. I could hand this book to so many people. Read this, talk to me. This is the experience of a gay man. Every day requires coming out. Disease is still a very serious risk. Hatred is rampant, bubbling just unde ...more
Mark Hiser
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Richie Jackson is the award-winning talent manager and producer of the hit television show, Nurse Jackie, as well as other Broadway plays, films, and television shows. He is the former partner of the actor B.D. Wong with whom he had a surrogacy-born son. Since 2012, he has been married to Jordan Roth, a Tony-Award winning producer.

At the age of 18, Richie Jackson’s son came out to him as gay. Writing that “my son is kind, responsible, and hardworking” Jackson goes on to say that “he is ready fo
This had an ok premise, but really didn't work in execution. Jackson is gay and otherwise super-privileged, which he acknowledges, but is still apparent in his writing. His identity is completely vested in his being gay, which I understand, but he is very oblivious in other aspects.

It's so irresponsible to conflate the experiences of cis gays and trans people, especially since trans people are statistically more at-risk when it comes to hate crimes and similar situations. Jackson has a history o
Even though this wasn't as inclusive as I would have wanted it to be and expected it to be, I still appreciate this book for what it had to say. ...more
Jun 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: mine
Hardly a mention of QTPOC or their struggles. Hm.

I did like how Richie dismissed gay people who claim their homosexuality to only be one part of them. "These type of devaluations are disguised apologies for who you are, diminishing you bit by bit, robbing you of the full utilization and expression of yourself... Being gay is the most important thing about me."
Brandon Will
If I ever have a queer son I'll have to warn them about how no one can cut down queer people like other queer people--which is why I hate to do this,, Gay Like Me is a very fitting title. Just not how they intended. But for a book purporting to be a collective story of the queer community that falls into a far narrower slot while conjuring the civil rights struggle of Black Americans, many, many times, while simultaneously completely failing to acknowledge privilege and racism with ...more
Jan 20, 2020 rated it liked it
ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

I have pretty mixed opinions about this book. I didn't know who Richie Jackson was before getting this arc, so I didn't realize he's actually in the entertainment industry. From reading this book, I understand that Richie is a very intellectual, loving, and caring man and father. He'd lived through the AIDS crisis and now has a gay son who is going away to college and wants to share all the vital information he's learne
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I found it thought provoking, insightful, tremendously relatable and beautifully written.

This book had all of the elements of a truly wonderful work -- I could not put it down; I felt emotional while I was reading it; I wanted to immediately share parts of it with my husband and friends; I didn't want it to end; and I still remember it 30 minutes after I finished it -- notable with my goldfish memory!

I really appreciated the approach of the author "speaking" to his son and fo
Ali Winter
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Jackson’s skill in the telling of this story combined with his openness make this book — a memoir, a call to action, the parenting book we haven’t had, but desperately need — an extraordinary, edifying journey, and also at times a wrenching one. This is a first-person account of the AIDS crisis from someone who was there, in the community, losing his friends one by one, and how you live past that in a world that is supposedly beyond homophobia but risks erasing the lessons of what happened befor ...more
Sep 24, 2020 rated it liked it
A gay father writes to his gay son about his 50 years of lived experience as a gay man in this country. I couldn't relate one bit but it was still a very interesting read. ...more
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Five Stars*****
A complex and beautiful love note to his young son who also happens to be gay. This book was filled with tender and provoking thoughts on why remembering you are a gay man is so important. The author now is in his fifties and does not want his son to take for granted how much was fought to advance the gay community and get some of the basic rights always taken for granted by the heterosexual community. Marriage was a landmark decision offering an institution Mr. Jackson never drea
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's easy to forget that Jackson is talking to his son here, and feel as if he is talking to an entire younger generation of the queer community.

So often we take for granted what we have, and fail to seek an understanding of how we got here. Who fought, who died, who sacrificed so we have the rights we have today. This book serves as one man's perspective into those fights. His advice, while sometimes short sided, is such a beautiful reminder to take into account what the queer men and women bef
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
I can’t imagine the experience of being a gay kid with a gay dad. That must be amazing. Having a dad care enough to write a book like this is an incredible gift. But, as an adult who is not Richie Jackson’s kid, I didn’t get a ton out of it.

The author’s perspective is often hard to relate to. Although being gay is a core piece of my identity and experience of life, this author has a peculiar way of narrowing life to the extent that basically nothing outside of being gay even seems to exist. It
John Wimmer
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
We recieved the book, "Gay Like Me", from a Goodreads giveaway, and it was a pleasure to read. With all of the sensitive issues in the Gay lifestyles of today, this book tells it like it is. The author was proud to be a man about revealing his right to be a Gay, and explores many of the fascinating aspects of his unique lifestyle. He also explains how the changing culture in America affected his many tough decisions as a Gay man. Great biographical account of a complex human being, very moving. ...more
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Gay Like Me A Father Writes to His Son by Richie Jackson

On a day when I was just searching for something uplifting, I decided to read this book. I wasn't sure if it would interest me. I don't have children so it didn't really appeal to me as a parenting book, but I was curious. Interestingly enough, I really enjoyed it, but I had issues with it, as well.

In this memoir, a father gives his son advice as he leaves the family home to attend University. The son, like his father, is gay. While there is very little information about the son himself, the
Ash Baker
Mar 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I did not expect to be so moved by this book. I was instantly engrossed by the author’s voice, read about a third until I started to fall asleep, and then finished the book when I woke up at 6am.

Not everyone will share the perspectives that the author holds, but I think this book has the potential to connect with many people from many walks of life. I’d recommend this book to just about anyone, from those of us within the community to straight/cis folks who don’t even personally ‘know’ a gay pe
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This has the potential to be the best thing I read this year. Also, I would like to take this tiny book in my tiny fists and beat some of my clueless straight friends with it. The author may be okay with that?

So this book was a snapshot of the gay education I never got. Suddenly becoming gay at the age of 36 (transitioned - FTM) left me without a cultural framework and the socialization of someone raised by wolves essentially. This book contains all the knowledge I missed out on, albeit in short
Todd Smith
May 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
A little background: In 2003, actor BD Wong chronicled the journey he and his partner (Richie Jackson) experienced through the surrogacy birth of their son (Jackson Foo Wong). This was compiled into the ground-breaking book "Following Foo (The Electronic Adventures of the Chestnut Man)".
Flash-forward to 2020 and Jackson Foo is: living with Richie and his now husband (Jordan); openly gay; ready to head off to college in New York City.
As Jackson has been raised in a gay family, shielded from much
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I found Gay Like Me both an interesting and informative read. In it, a gay father passes along his lessons learned to his gay son heading off to college. He tells of his life as a gay boy, growing to adulthood in times when being homosexual was dangerous, and far less accepted than it is today.

The author rejoices in who he is, and despite the difficulties, embraces being gay as the best thing about himself. He hopes that his son learns to be proud and open about who he is as well, so that LGBT
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
TV and Broadway producer Richie Jackson's memoir, GAY LIKE ME, is presented as a letter to his gay teenage son, but all young LGBTQ people will find it inspiring, uplifting and essential reading. "I have always felt lucky to be gay," writes Jackson. "Everything good that has happened to me is because I am gay." In reviewing his life, Jackson also shares gay history and offers context to his coming out at 18 in 1984, compared to his son's coming out three decades later. "I am scared for your safe ...more
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Disclaimers: I am not Jewish. I am not male. I am not gay. I know almost nothing about the theater. So, I have no personal life experience that qualifies me to review this book. I picked up Gay Like Me because I wanted to gain insight on a life I will never experience by reading an authentic voice telling his own story - not someone telling someone else's story or a third party making up a interesting-sounding story based on standardized beliefs (No, I am not taking any swipes at any other recen ...more
James Garman
Oct 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtq, non-fiction
This book is ultimately a love letter from Richie Jackson, known for producing A Torch Song Trilogy recently and Nurse Jackie for seven seasons, to his son on having his son come out to him as gay. Richie, also gay, went through Stonewall and is cautioning his son that it is important, even more, today than some years in the past, to keep awareness up that the LGBTQ community has enemies in the political structure of the country. Our gains are endangered, and we need to come together to take pri ...more
Micah Lawrence
Apr 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
Having just adopted a son with my husband, I felt very emotional thinking how far LGBTQ+ people have come and how much I am living a dream many of my gay ancestors could hardly imagine.

Jackson writes beautifully on his experiences as a gay youth, his involvement with gay theater in NY, his activism with ACTUP and his experience surviving the AIDS epidemic. He advises his son on how to survive in society as a gay man and how to be a good global gay citizen.

I’ve read many other reviews here on G
Chris Neuhaus
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is the book I needed when I was coming out of the closet. The honest, poignant, and heartfelt words of @richiejacksongaydad hit me with such profundity, it made my heart sing. This book will continue to open minds and hearts to our allies, but it also serves as a important reminder for us all to always remember the events and history that have helped the LGBTQ+ community to evolve, prosper, and persevere. Solid 4 ⭐️.
“Being gay is not a lifestyle; it is life. My gayness is the most import
Alyssa Spirit
Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
I borrowed this book from my job, as I currently work in a book store. And I’m glad I didn’t spend my own money on it. I think the idea and the writing were good, but I feel like the book gives off the wrong vibe to people outside of the LGBTQ community. As a queer person myself, I’m happy being gay and I love the community, but i can recognize that some quotes in this book are just a bit inappropriate. The author says several times, “I wanted you to be gay” and “being gay is a gift”, although b ...more
Robert Stevens
Sep 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book, while not perfect and not inclusive to the entire community (it doesn’t have to be), is beautiful. While it is a personal letter from the author to his son, it also has broader lessons. I find it to be particularly power to present the world as it was when the author was growing up alongside how it is now. The author presents the situation is fragile and can backslide at any time; so, it is important to not be complacent and fight for what we have earned and should not be taken away. ...more
Jun 11, 2020 rated it liked it
It is so, so, so important to acknowledge the intersectional nature of the LGB community. But there is no real mention of that here. Some name dropping of trans folks and POC. But no acknowledgement of their unique experiences. No acknowledgement of poor or disabled LGB folks. Or women within the community. This was like... privilege supreme minus the fact that the author is gay.

That being said, this wasn't bad? Perhaps a bit misguided, but not bad. It's very clear that Jackson's message comes
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