One gay dad is trying to give gay teens something to read and reflect on because he wishes he had the same growing up.
Richie Jackson has been a busy man. He most recently produced the Tony Award-nominated Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song on Broadway and was the executive produced Showtime’s Nurse Jackie (the Emmy and Golden Globe nominee for Best Comedy Series) for seven seasons and co-executive produced the film Shortbus, written and directed by John Cameron Mitchell.
And now he is the proud author of the newly released book Gay Like Me. Jackson wrote the book after his son, Jackson Foo Wong, came out as gay. For Richie Jackson, the revelation was amazing to him as it led to him comparing his teenage years to his son’s. For Richie, being a teen in the 1980s meant hiding his sexuality and full identity while in the midst of the AIDS crisis.
“We were outlaws, renegades, free but oppressed, silenced, scorned, scolded,” he writes in his new book,” Richie wrote in the book.
“You were never in a closet; you didn’t start your gay life with that prison of secrecy,” he added. “All you kept saying to me is, ‘It’s no big deal; it’s no big deal.”
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Gay Like Me is for you, my son. As you prepare to go to college as a gay man in America, it is critical that I tell you everything I know—everything that I have learned, every rise and every depression, so much that I have kept to myself so that you would feel safe. And though it may seem that I am clipping your wings just as you are about to set off, I am merely watching out for you from my vantage point, ensuring that you take flight safely, to soar freely.
The book is a love letter from a father to his son. Gay Like Me shares not only comparisons of how gay life has changed in the last few decades, but it also shares advice on how to proceed in the world. Specifically, Richie Jackson warns his son of the need to continue being careful in the face of adversity and the ongoing conservative push.
“Our new mainstream identity, however, is a false salve,” he warns. “The veneer is better but not good enough, and better doesn’t mean right or just. Your being ‘more legal’ gives a false sense of security: It doesn’t mean you are safe. And the miracle of visibility hasn’t made us whole.”
That said, Richie Jackson doesn’t stray from the joys and wonder of gay life either. After all, he states, “being gay is a gift.” And he hopes his son will continue to know that.
If you want to read this labor of love from a father to his son, you can buy the book where all books are being sold.