Jeffrey Sharlach and Andrew Tobias on the Courage to Come Out

First-time novelist Jeffrey Sharlach speaks with DNC treasurer and acclaimed author Andrew Tobias on coming out in the 1970s as nice Jewish boys and what opportunities young people have now when it comes to connecting with LGBT family. 

BY Michelle Garcia

May 01 2012 2:35 PM ET

Tobias: My parents’ reaction was not exactly as described at the end of my book — as I explain in the first chapter of the sequel that came out 25 years later. But, yes, my dad took me aside the day he met Scot to say, “He’s a very nice young man” — I get pretty choked up just thinking about how much that meant to me (and also missing Scot, who died in 1990, and my dad, who died in 1983) — and my mom quickly came to adore Charles, but could never quite figure out how to introduce him. “And this is Andy’s very, very special friend Charles,” she would say, or something like that. So it sounds as though both of us pretty much lucked out, parentally.
 
Sharlach: I do think there was a sense of “being different” when I came out in the ’70s that wasn’t all bad — it was unifying in a way, and I hope I’m not romanticizing the past too much by saying I think we were more supportive of one another. Especially in business, when you found someone else who was “family” they would often take you under their wing. I think these days it’s just not that a big a deal and I guess that’s the way it should be.
 
Tobias: Oh, I think there’s still a lot of under-wing-taking. Just watch how many aspiring young writers are going to find their way to your Facebook page after reading your wonderful book. I’ll bet you go out of your way to help every single one.
 
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Andrew Tobias has been the treasurer of the Democratic National Committee since 1999. He has received the Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism, Harvard Magazine’s Smith-Weld Prize, GLSEN’s first Valedictorian Award, and the Consumer Federation of America Media Service Award. His writings have appeared in publications including Esquire, New York, Parade, Time, The New York Times Magazine, and Harvard Magazine. He is the author of 12 books, and his novel The Best Little Boy in the World has been in print continuously since 1973. 
 
Jeffrey Sharlach is the author of Running in Bed, hitting booksellers later this month. He is the founder of JeffreyGroup, a top public relations and marketing agency that focuses largely on Latin American markets and Hispanic-American consumers. In 2007 he was appointed adjunct associate professor in the Department of Management Communication at the New York University Stern School of Business, where he currently teaches.
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