Raising LGBTQ Allies by Chris Tompkins
Reviewed by David T. Valentin
LGBTQ+ Nonfiction (Adult)
At first when I saw Tompkins book Raising LGBTQ Allies I was curious if it was actually a deep dive into raising LGBTQ+ children or if it was just a simple “How to be a good ally,” written by a straight, cis man. But immediately after beginning the first chapter, I was blown away. What I had thought was going to be an easy, “be nice to Queer children” book quickly became an informational deep dive into how we can deconstruct homophobia in our society, but also why it grows so rampant in our society in the first place.
Tompkins greatest argument is not that we should just simply tolerate Queer people to be nice or because we want to support our children while pretending Queer children’s differences don’t matter, but that we should learn to be better allies to our Queer children so that they can become the greatest, happiest and truest versions of themselves. By peeling back homophobia in a heteronormative society, Tompkins begs readers to ask the question, and many other very important ones, why do we believe the things that we do? Tompkins labels this, as “Messages from the playground,” or put more obviously, the subconscious messages kids and adults send to others based off the things they do or do not speak about. Tompkins strongest and most interesting point is that sometimes the things we do not speak about speak louder than the things we do speak about. In other words, passively accepting Queer people quietly is not the same as vocally supporting Queer people outwardly.
Throughout the book, he brings in his life experience with teaching youth and adults about LGBTQ+ inclusivity, bringing up topics such as: Language we use; the stories we tell and what kind of beliefs we impart to our children with the stories we tell; Spirituality and the importance for Queer people to maintain belief in a higher being, whether that be through organized religion or through the self; Mindfulness to others experiences; and also mindful meditation practices that give an individual a safe space to evaluate why they believe the things they do.
By going through numerous examples of day-to-day life, as well as weaving in and out of many different topics, Tompkins gives readers, straight or Queer or questioning, a full picture of how heteronormativity and standards of success affect Queer children well into adulthood while also giving close minded adults a gentle, but very firm nudge to reevaluate the things they believe for the sake of the happiness of children.
For those looking to understand their Queer children, while being 100% honest with themselves, or Queer people looking to see how a heteronormative society affects them, then this book is for you. Not only that, but I found Tompkins book a good step in not only reevaluating passive and active forms of homophobia in our lives, but also a good foundational tool with proper exercises to reevaluate all the thoughts and biases that we may have.
Published by Rowman & Littlefield, August 2021