I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
A moving memoir about growing up with a gay father in the 1980s, and a tribute to the power of truth, humour, acceptance and familial love.
Alison Wearing led a largely carefree childhood until she learned, at the age of 12, that her family was a little more complex than she had realized. Sure her father had always been unusual compared to the other dads in the neighbourhood: he loved to bake croissants, wear silk pyjamas around the house, and skip down the street singing songs from Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. But when he came out of the closet in the 1970s, when homosexuality was still a cardinal taboo, it was a shock to everyone in the quiet community of Peterborough, Ontario—especially to his wife and three children.
“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”
L.P. Harley (The Go-Between)
I remember the 1970s because I was in junior high and high school during that decade. That said, it was before I became aware of politics or a sense history being created. I was still reading Black Stallion books, just discovering Tolkien, and participating in 4-H Horse Club.
So the change in Canada’s laws on homosexuality made absolutely no impression on me. That was completely out of my ken. Alison Wearing did not have the luxury of ignorance—this impinged directly on her parents and her family. This book is her chronicle of the experience of having her dad come out of the closet and try to forge a life for himself that includes his children. It is a challenge, as being a gay dad is an absolutely foreign concept at that time. A large part of the book relates to Alison’s own experience, but she also devotes sections to both her father’s and mother’s view-points.
The love between Alison and her parents is wonderful to observe. Not to say that everything was easy—it wasn’t—but they all tried valiantly to make things work. Her father observes at one point that if he’d been born 10 years earlier, he would probably never have come out and if born 10 years later, he probably would never have married in the first place. Reading this book made me realize how far we have come as a society in our acceptance of the LGBT community, and that pleases me a great deal.