Opening the door: a mother’s journey when her son comes out by Shelly Argent. A review by John Cook.

Argent (1)

This is not literature but it is worth a heck of a lot more than much so-called literature. It is a two book compendium (both still brief enough to read easily) that includes ‘Opening the Door’ a mixture of the author’s personal journey and eventual involvement and leadership in PFLAG which provides a platform for some clear and optimistic advice; and ‘Sexuality is not a Choice’ which is more of an informative – advisory piece clarifying and offering ways to understand and act when confronted with specific situations. The two complement one another quite well though there is inevitably some repetition which probably needs to be there anyway. The inclusion of some others’ tales from Shelley’s contact experiences were useful and insightful.

Shelley Argent is clearly what she says

It’s very difficult to argue with an articulate, assertive, middle-aged, middle-class mother who passionately believes that conservative Australia is not treating her son fairly.’

We need more Shelley Argents to counteract the Fred Niles of the world. I belong to a generation who hungered for a read such as this but had to be content with what encyclopaedias and reference works had to offer and it was pretty gloomy stuff (‘Homosexuality’ by D J West, 1960). My mother died in my late teens and I was shortly after estranged from my father, so I can only imagine the blessing of having such a parent or one who would be at least willing to listen to Shelly’s words.

This is clearly a work for those who are seeking knowledge and information and this was brought home for me as a previous reader of my library copy had pencilled underlinings, comments and queries. It is a clear and optimistic book, indeed infectiously so and doesn’t leave doubters with anywhere much to go. In my experience it is not common to come upon a simple clear discussion on how to respond to a ‘spouse coming out’ situation which unfortunately keeps on happening. It is to be hoped that wider knowledge and understanding as in the case of my pencil wielding ‘friend’ may reduce its hurtful frequency. Shelley is to be congratulated for her efforts at the personal and public level.

I thought readers might be interested in this extract from ‘The Age’ May 10, 2015.

Homophobia in sport: Playing with pride and trying to change an attitude

After the final siren sounded at Australia’s first “Pride Cup” something unexpected happened.

In the wake of this landmark country football match – which aimed to make the sport more welcoming for gay players and fans – one of the club presidents was contacted by a local man whose teenage son had recently come out. His wife was struggling to accept it. As a result, their boy was no longer living in the family home.

Having watched the match between Victorian teams Yarra Glen and Yarra Junction last May – in which 50 metre lines were painted rainbow colours in a celebration of diversity – the father turned to the football club for help.

“We put them in touch with a support group (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and the family went to see that group and now the kid is back at home where he belongs. This all came about through the visibility of the Pride Cup and the education we’d gone through,” said Yarra Glen president Vincent Erickson.


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