Mama's Boy, Preacher's Son
A MemoirBook - 2006
By age six, Kevin Jennings knew he was going straight to hell. His father, an evangelist preacher, as much as told him so. During the 1960s, Kevin's family moved from one trailer park in the South to another as his dad fought to hold on to a pulpit. Then, on Kevin's eighth birthday, his father suffered a fatal heart attack as Kevin stood, helpless, at his side. When he cried at the funeral, Kevin's older brothers admonished him, "Don't be a faggot." The warning was a key lesson. In school, "faggot" became more familiar to Kevin than his own name. Nobody watching the regular torture of Kevin's schooldays could have anticipated that he would ever want to return to the classroom.Kevin's father may have preached damnation, but his mother showed him the road to salvation. Forced to drop out of school at the age of nine, Alice Verna Johnson Jennings fervently believed in the power education held for her children. While working a series of blue-collar jobs to support her family, she struggled with her conservative Appalachian roots when her oldest son married a black woman and her youngest came out. Alice's story is powerful account of a woman's triumph over huge obstacles, including her own prejudices.When he earned a scholarship to Harvard, Kevin finally found acceptance. His decision to become a teacher, however, forced him back into the closet. In the classroom, reliving the anguish of school bigotry, Kevin realized his true vocation. When his students rallied to his defense-and thereby to their own-Kevin worked with them to form the first gay/straight alliance, and he went on to found GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Educational Network, now a national education organization with a presence in all fifty states.
Publisher: Boston : Beacon Press, c2006.
Branch Call Number: B JENNINGS KEVIN
Characteristics: xii, 267 p. ; 24 cm.