I was told it’s not a sex manual — just a guideline. That circular logic was most heartbreaking when I brought up the topic of hate crimes. Focus on the Family insists that they love the sinner, just not the sin, and only try to help homosexuals who are unhappy being gay. I worried aloud that this message might be misinterpreted by those who commit acts of violence against gays in the name of religion, and the woman I was interviewing burst into tears.
“Thank goodness,” she said, “that’s never happened.” I am sure this would be news to the parents of Matthew Shepherd, Brandon Teena, Ryan Keith Skipper or August Provost — just a few of those murdered due to their sexual orientation — or the FBI, which reports that 17.6 percent of all hate crimes are motivated by sexual orientation, a number that is steadily rising. And it’s not just in the U.S.: In Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and parts of Africa, being gay is punishable by death.
Yet as eye-opening as all this research was, something happened during the writing of Sing You Home that truly made the subject hit home. My son Kyle, a brilliant, talented teenager, was applying to colleges while I was working on the book. One day, he brought me his finished application to read. The essay was about being gay.
Did I know Kyle was gay before he came out in his essay? Well, I’d had my suspicions since he was five. But it was his discovery to make, and to share. I wasn’t surprised, but I was so happy for him for being brave enough to be true to himself and to admit that truth to his family. My husband gave him a huge hug. Kyle’s little sister shrugged and said, “So?” And his younger brother still calls to task those who carelessly say, “That’s so gay,” reminding them it’s not a pejorative term.
If I had any one great hope for Sing You Home, it would be to open the minds of those who have them closed tightly shut against those who are different, so that one day my son’s children will live in a world where being gay does not mean you’re denied the 1,138 federal rights automatically guaranteed by marriage. But most of all, I hope that Sing You Home reminds people that while homosexuality is not a choice, homophobia is. Why not opt for tolerance and kindness instead?
Often when people read my books, they can’t figure out what side of an issue I stand on. In Sing You Home, I think it’s pretty clear. I hope, after reading it, gay relationships will seem less mysterious and threatening and more ordinary. Which leads me to the question I’d ask Pastor Clive if he existed: Why do you care? Why would someone else’s
“Her storytelling ability has established herself firmly in the ranks of highly regarded novelists, which, at age 38, is a very impressive accomplishment.... Picoult always writes with depth and clarity. She refrains from delivering the happily ever after ending to her stories, but rather presents thought-provoking questions about the human condition.” - Ocean County Observer
relationship with a same sex partner affect your life at all? Or, to borrow Ernest Gaines’ question: Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?
Sing You Home Research Music Therapy
Music Therapy is using music in a clinical setting in order to bring about a change in emotional, social, physical or communicative health. It is like physical or occupational therapy — except music is the tool used to achieve the goal.
Every time you sing along to a happy song on a sunny day in the car, you’re using music therapy. After a breakup, if you listen to the same sad song over and over, you’re using music therapy. During childbirth, if you use music as a focal point, that’s music therapy.
So how is music therapy done? Sometimes it means playing an instrument and singing to soothe a patient who is in hospice. Sometimes it means creating music with a client to help them express their feelings. Sometimes it’s a way to connect with a client — like a kid with autism who won’t speak but will complete a musical phrase.
I wanted my character Zoe to be a music therapist, so I went to the Berklee School of Music in Boston and met with and shadowed music therapists. Music therapists begin with an assessment, asking questions of the client/ patient to get a sense of where the starting point is for therapy. For instance: Have you ever played an instrument? If you could play one instrument better than anyone else, what would it be? If you were stranded on a desert island and you could bring one playlist, what would be on it? The nature and method of music therapy, though, is as diverse as the clients. One music therapist who worked in a nursing home with the elderly took a song from Dar Williams, “You’re Aging Well,” and printed the lyrics. She left out certain words, had the group write in their own