Landmark 1983 Book "A Secret I Can't Tell" About LGBTQ Families, Now Updated & Reissued
First published in 1983, "A Secret I Can't Tell" was the only record of American same-sex-headed household family life during the homophobic Moral Majority. Now, updated and reissued, it draws a direct line between Anita Bryant and the “Save Our Children coalition” of the 1970s and today’s anti-LGBTQ political climate. With new interviews and a new foreword, the book provides an unparalleled look at how far we’ve come and underscores how close we are to returning to a dark past.
A landmark book now updated and reissued, draws a direct line between the moral panic driven by the moral panic driven by Anita Bryant and the “Save Our Children Coalition” of the 1970s to today’s anti-LGBTQ political climate.
First published in 1983, "A Secret I Can't Tell" was the only record of American same-sex-headed household family life during the heyday of the homophobic Moral Majority.
With new interviews and a new foreword, the book provides an unparalleled look at how far we’ve come and underscores how close we are to returning to a dark past.
In 2020, the United States Supreme Court ruled that 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex. But now, Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay/Trans” law and another 300+ virulently discriminatory bills have made 2022 the worst year in recent history for legislative attacks on LGBTQ people.
This moment of progress and assaults on LGBTQ rights looks a lot like another time in our not-to-distant past: In 1977, a county ordinance was passed in Florida which banned discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodation based on sexual orientation. After Anita Bryant’s successful “Save Our Children” campaign which demonized gays and lesbians, the law was overturned and it launched a wave of repeals of civil rights for gays and lesbians in other states.
Incensed by Save Our Children’s hateful slogan, “Homosexuals cannot reproduce, so they must recruit,” author Joe Gantz decided to attack head-on the rhetoric that gays and lesbians were a danger to children. He located five same-sex headed households in different parts of the nation, embedded with them for a week, and 1979–1983 interviewed these lesbian and gay parents and their children about what effects the fear-mongering and anti-gay pressures had on them.
The resulting book, "A Secret I Can't Tell: The First Generation of Children from Openly Gay and Lesbian Homes" by Joe Gantz (Carpenter Hill Publishing, 2022, paperback, $15.99, kindle edition $9.99), updated in 2022 with new interviews from some of the children (now adults in their 50s) and a new foreword by Scott Gatz, founder and CEO of Q.Digital, tracks the effects of keeping their parents’ relationships a secret in a time when it was dangerous to be out, particularly as a gay parent. The book shows that parents also struggled coming out to their children without any community or legal support, or even representation in the media at that time. The secrecy these families had to maintain forced the kids into a kind of a closet along with their parents and the effects have lasted decades.
Today’s political climate in which zealots intentionally whip up anti-LGBTQ hatred, replete with baseless and appalling claims about “groomers” or conflating school lessons about LGBTQ history with teaching sex, and in a time when there’s a conservative super-majority on the Supreme Court ready to dismantle the Obergefell (2015) or Bostock (2020) decisions that guaranteed important civil rights, it’s vital to understand that LGBTQ families are not statistics, but real people. In this book, families tell us who they are — in their own words.
Praise for A Secret I Can't Tell:
“A moving testimony to the courage, determination and inventiveness of same-sex parents who battled against all odds to create loving, happy families.” - Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner and gay rights activist
“…Four decades ago, as now, the kids of pioneering gay parents had their share of complaints, too, alongside joys, triumphs, and love. All are skillfully rendered in the family vignettes that make up the bulk of A Secret I Can’t Tell.” - Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry
“…We must remember that, back in the 1970s and 1980s, lesbian and gay mother and fathers suffered tremendous shame for having challenged the traditional model of heterosexual parenting…. As both a psychotherapist and sexologist, I hold this iconic book in very high regard indeed.” - Professor Brett Kahr, Senior Fellow at the Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology in London
About the author:
Joe Gantz is a writer and award-winning documentary filmmaker known for examining personal stories with honesty, humor, and depth. He is the producer of Taxicab Confessions, which was on HBO for 16 years, as well as many feature length documentaries, including American Winter, Ending Disease and The Race to Save the World.
For more, visit joegantz.com. To request an interview, excerpt, or a copy of "A Secret I Can't Tell: The First Generation of Children from Openly Gay and Lesbian Homes," email Matthew@matthewbreen.com.
Imprint: Carpenter Hills Publishing
On sale: November 10, 2022
Price: $15.95 paperback ($9.99 Kindle)