As the daughter of a Focus on the Family executive, Amber Cantorna grew up homeschooled by parents who modeled the group’s conservative Christian and family values. In 2012, after struggling for years with the fear of rejection, Amber came out to her family as gay. That transparency cost her everything.
“I did not dream that I would be married to a woman and that my dad’s position at Focus would divide me from my family rather than keep us focused on it—but that’s what happened,” she says.
In her book Refocusing My Family: Coming Out, Being Cast Out, and Discovering the True Love of God, Amber recalls a happy childhood in a family that outwardly seemed perfect, but a dark side emerged as she struggled under the weight of perfectionism, reputation, and appearances. Amber tells of her journey of self-discovery and exposes the dark truths of how the values of Focus on the Family tore her family apart. Ultimately, her struggle was transformed into freedom when she boldly stepped into her identity and discovered that the true love of God surpasses all.
“Literally millions of us trusted James Dobson and Focus on the Family to guide us in raising the ideal Christian family. Amber Cantorna pulls back the curtain and reveals the real-life realities behind Focus’s books, purity rings, and radio shows. I hope that today’s young parents who are part of the evangelical community will allow her story to guide them into a better way of parenting, so they can discover a more authentic way of being Christians—and human beings, too.”
—Brian D. McLaren, author of The Great Spiritual Migration
What People are Saying about Refocusing My Family:
“Amber’s ability to distill the lifestyle of Christian conservatism and show the infinitesimal ways that being gay/coming out affect someone raised in this community, are nothing short of brilliant. Wholly well written yet still accessible, Amber’s story is not just for those of the LGBT community or for someone who knows someone who identifies as such (which is, quite frankly, everyone), but for anyone interested in reading a story about an incredible woman overcoming considerable adversity. I cannot recommend it more, for both its exquisite vulnerability and cultural accuracy.” –Kristen B.
“Never have I read a book that brought me so much hope before. Reading Amber’s story, and coming into the realization that there’s someone else out there who gets what I’ve gone through, was such an amazing experience.” -Anonymous
“I was captivated from the first page. The life story that Amber shares will challenge some and encourage others. It is a story of faith, loss, restoration, and perseverance. It’s an inside look into the experiences an thought processes of one in the midst of their own personal coming out story. A must-read for allies and LGBT people alike!” -Christina
“Reading Refocusing My Family has changed my life and helped me better understand my child. I don’t feel so alone on this path now.” –Julie, mother of an LGBT child
“Amber’s willingness to be honest and bold about her experience will help readers to feel honest and bold themselves.” –Erin L.
“I am so grateful for Amber’s truth presented in this book. She strikes to the heart of the trappings of fundamentalist Christianity, revealing the dead ends of restrictive beliefs. Her redemptive words give hope as a new expression of family rises up across the story. Amber’s words are a balm and a relief.” –Jennifer J.
“Amber’s bravery shines in this powerful memoir reminding us that it will be through witness of the marginalized that we find the hope and healing we need for a more loving, peace-filled planet.
If you grew up in the Focus on the Family universe (as I did), then you owe it to yourself to read this account of what happens when good people, within a good system, get controlled by bad theology.” –Colby M.
“Raised in much the same way as Amber, I could hardly put the book down. As the mother of a gay daughter, the book hits home. I’m so glad Amber has shared her story and I can only hope that it will open people’s hearts and minds and bring more understanding.” –Claffey
“I read this book without putting it down. This is a must read for pastors who will inevitably need to help families of LGBT kids upon coming out. Refocusing My Family shines a light on how families could better meet the needs of their LGBT youth and young adults.” –Cynthia S.
“The raw vulnerability and honesty Amber shares, plus the immense and unyielding love and grace that she freely gives despite the devastation she experienced at the hands of loved ones, speak to God’s work in her life and serve as a tremendous example for us all. It gives me hope that Amber and others like her will ultimately change hearts and minds. Whether you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community or not, Refocusing My Family is an absolute must-read.” –M. Martinez
“This is a book about a gal who has gone through seemingly unsurmountable circumstances and who did not give up. Not only that, Amber has gone on to found an organization to help people who are struggling with the same challenges that she experienced. There is no question, writing this book was something Amber had to do, and we, as readers have the unique opportunity to be inspired and motivated by her journey.” –H. Smith
“I’m so glad I read Refocusing My Family! I have a deeper understanding after reading this book and an increased empathy for anyone facing this situation. Thank you, Amber, for sharing your story. Your strength and grace are an example to all of us.” – Diana L.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you! As a former Christian and homeschooler myself, reading about your experience was real and powerful.” –Anonymous
“I loved this Refocusing My Family! This was the first LGBT book I have read since coming out and it was a wonderful read. This book is excellent for anyone coming out or for their family members.” –Melissa
“This is one of the best books I have read on the subject of LGBTQ. Amber was honest and forthright and I found myself cheering her on as she was progressing in her journey of who she is. Amber, thank you for writing your amazing story. It truly does resonate with me and so many others that understand where you have come from. I highly recommend this book.” –Mother of LGBT child
“This book has a message in it that so many people in our current culture need to hear, especially those who come from a conservative Christian background. Amber’s story is both heartbreaking and full of hope. She has written her story in a beautiful way that exposes the pain, but also shines hope for those who are going through a similar experience or for those who want to understand the journey for an LGBTQ person, especially one who doesn’t want to loose their faith. I highly recommend this book!” –Bethany W.
“Amber has triumphed due in no small part to the tenacity of her faith in God. Definitely worth the read, as this is no simple cookie cutter memoir. She challenges all of us past a simple theology and prescribed life.” –Joyce
“There are not enough good things to say about this book! It will take you through a roller coaster of emotions and bring about thought provoking questions regarding the church and treatment of LGBT people. There are so many relatable parts for anyone who has ever struggled with aligning their faith and sexuality and Amber does an excellent job at not holding back the details that so many people on the outside never see. Highly recommended not only for those in similar situations, but for family, friends, and allies as well.” –Morgan
“This book made me feel less alone. It made me see that it is indeed possible to love both God and my wife. This story will without a doubt save peoples lives when they need hope most.” –Anonymous
“Cantorna’s words are self-baring, honest, and vulnerable, and full of compassion towards her parents.” –Sarah
“Refocusing My Family will open your eyes and your heart to those who love in different ways. A must read for all.” -Pay