Holly and Amanda, have I thanked you recently for twisting my (rubber) arm to participate in the 2015 TBR Pile Challenge? Because for real, I’ve made such a dent in my TBR pile this year thanks to this challenge and I never would have gone for it if it wasn’t for you guys!
I had been wanting to read Alison Wearing’s memoir, Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter: Growing Up With a Gay Dad for a long time. And thanks to the challenge (and my amazing foresight of putting this book on the list, obv) I’ve finally read it.
Wearing grew up outside of Toronto in Peterborough, in the 1970s and early 1980s. Her descriptions of her childhood made me laugh so hard. Wearing is very self deprecating when it comes to describing her looks and attitude and the weird things she did as a child which makes it so identifiable. She grew up with an older and younger brother, her mom a classically trained pianist who had a hard time relegated to the traditional roles of wife and mother and her dad, a professor who thought that soufflé was the perfect child’s birthday party food, sang showtunes and loved to bake and cook.
Honestly, Wearing’s childhood was kind of amazing.
But Wearing’s dad had a secret: he was gay. The way she tells the story of his coming out to his family and finally exploring what this meant (homosexuality was still illegal at the time) really affected me. It is tender and loving and wonderful. She splits the book into three sections: the way she saw it, the way her dad saw it and the way her mom saw it. Unbeknownst to her until she started writing the book, her dad had kept all kinds of newspaper clippings and articles tracking the gay movement at the time, as well as writing in a journal about his own struggles to come to terms with the person he was, to come out as a gay man but to still be a loving, present father. I was surprised to learn that this was pretty well unheard of at the time.
Reading this I was struck by how lovingly Wearing writes about both of her parents. She is respectful and honest and funny and I thought how proud her parents must be to be able to read how much she loves them both.
I also know that I’m extremely lucky to live in a place and time where I read this book and am surprised by how horrible a thing being gay was before. I’m glad that Wearing wrote this book if only to educate me and others like me, who maybe take for granted the ways we are free to love now.