I was so fortunate to have had the opportunity to read early drafts of Amber Cantorna’s new memoir, Refocusing My Family: Coming out, being cast out, and discovering the true love of God. “Refocusing” is a play on the name of the fundamentalist organization, Focus on the Family, of which Amber’s family is affiliated. Tragically, yet predictably, her family chose to cut off all contact with Amber after coming out.
For Christians on both sides of the gay debate, this book is timely and important. Now more than ever, we need to pay attention to the stories of LGBT teens and adults whose inability to change who they are is costing them their homes, their financial security, and more. Fortunately, Amber was an adult when she came out to her parents, so she was not dependent on them for safety as a teenager might be. Still, those scenes are heartbreaking, and nothing at all like what I imagine Jesus would want parents to do. Nothing in the world should ever break a parent’s bond with their child. I’m not a parent myself, but that seems obvious enough.
On why she felt compelled to write this book, Amber says,
Refocusing My Family’ is releasing at a critical time in our nation’s history. Now, more than ever, we need the voices of LGBTQ Christians to rise up. ‘Refocusing My Family’ humanizes this hot political topic and brings it down to a very personal and intimate level. The goal in sharing this true and heartbreaking story is to lend strength and hope to others wrestling in the closet of conservative faith communities and call attention to the crucial need for acceptance and inclusion from their family, peers, and loved ones. The suicide statistics related to LGBTQ people that come from rejecting families is astronomical. Having barely survived these odds, I feel compelled to speak up and expose the truth of my own Focus on the Family upbringing in order to increase awareness and invoke the pressing need to transform our culture and repair the damage being done to LGBTQ people in the name of God. I believe that embedded in my identity is a responsibility to be a voice for change, and the time for change is now.”
Fortunately the story has a happy ending. Today, Amber is happily married to Clara, and is the mom of two dogs.