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Center Reads Book Launch: The Family Outing, a conversation with Jessi Hemphel and Richie Jackson

October 6, 6:30 pm-8:30 pm

In preparation for National Coming Out Day (Oct. 11, 2022) we present this book launch of Jessi Hempel’s memoir “The Family Outing”. In conversation with author Richie Jackson join us in this program that discusses family, coming out, and more.

While she was growing up, Jessi Hempel’s family appeared boringly “normal” to the outside world: attorney dad, piano teacher mom, three smart kids, church, ballet lessons, scouts. Yet, behind the closed door of their suburban home, the truth was far more complicated.

In a remarkable and candid memoir, THE FAMILY OUTING (HarperOne; October 4, 2022), Hempel—long acclaimed as a journalist working at the convergence of technology and culture—digs deep into her family’s particular narrative, chronicling their individual and collective paths toward accepting their authentic selves.

Jessi’s father had struggled with early homosexual experiences, convincing himself that it was a phase he would grow out of. Her mother buried a haunting teenage incident where she dated a young man who turned out to be the confidant of a serial killer. The Hempels tried to build the perfect family life, but neither could fully escape their pasts, Dad constantly traveling and immersed in work, Mom doing her best to be a good mother despite cyclical periods of depression.

As the family grew more fractured, each struggled with their own emotional turmoil, much of it linked to questions about gender and sexual identity. Then, when their father was fifty, Jessi’s sister stumbled upon his online correspondence with gay men. Their carefully-constructed house of cards collapsed very slowly and often painfully, and each family member began to come to terms with their own truth. Jessi, already out, watched as her father came out as gay, her sister as bisexual, and her brother as transgender. Their mother, grappling with her own place in this unique family, would start to assess the impact of her own trauma.

THE FAMILY OUTING is a wholly original and compulsively readable story of transformation and acceptance that speaks to everyone’s need to seek value and authenticity in themselves, in their relationships, and in their lives. To learn more about the book please click here:

Jessi Hempel is a Senior Editor at Large at LinkedIn and host of the Webby-nominated podcast Hello Monday. For almost twenty years, she has been writing and editing features and cover stories about the most important people and companies in technology. Most recently, she was the head of editorial for Backchannel and a senior writer at Wired. She has also held positions at Fortune, where she co-chaired its Aspen tech conference, BusinessWeek, and Time Asia. She has appeared on CNN, PBS, MSNBC, Fox, and CNBC, addressing the culture and business of technology. Hempel is a graduate of Brown University and received a Master’s in Journalism from UC Berkeley. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Richie Jackson is the author of the book Gay Like Me published by HarperCollins and an opinion columnist for The Advocate. He is an award-winning Broadway, television, and film producer who produced the Tony Award-nominated Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song on Broadway and executive produced Showtime’s Nurse Jackie (Emmy and Golden Globe nominee for “Best Comedy Series”) for seven seasons.

As an alumnus of NYU, he endows a program at his alma mater to train the next generation of LGBTQ+ activists called the Richie Jackson LGBTQ+ Service Fellows.
He and his husband, Jordan Roth, were honored with The Trevor Project’s 2016 Trevor Hero Award. They are the proud parents of two extraordinary sons.


October 6
6:30 pm-8:30 pm
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