Monday, September 9, 2013

Confessions of a Fairy's Daughter: Growing Up with a Gay Dad by Alison Wearing

It was pure chance that I read Alison Wearing's Confessions of a Fairy's Daughter back-to-back with another memoir about a gay father, Fairyland by Alysia Abbott. The books both came in on hold for me at the library at the same time.

Of the two, Confessions of a Fairy's Daughter is much funnier. Alison is in a better position to write something uplifting because both of her parents are alive, healthy and even on good terms with each other. But it's her storytelling style that I found especially entertaining.

The Wearing family had a pair of Bichon Frise dogs that they bred for puppies. "The day rust appeared in my underwear (at the embarrassingly advanced age of fourteen), I gathered up my canine-inspired vocabulary and approached my mother in her bedroom, producing the evidence and announcing solemnly, 'I think I'm in heat.'"

"Once I had mastered the art of hiding menstruation from the world, I got back to the secret of having a pansy father."

Alison's father liked to sing show tunes while skipping down the sidewalk in Peterborough, Ontario. Somehow, it was still a shock to everyone when he came out in the 70s.

Alison looks back on her mother's situation with great sympathy. "My father flitted in and out of the nest of our lives like most men of his time, but I thought of my mother as the spiral of sticks itself, her limbs the very twigs that held our home together. It never occurred to me that she might have been less than fulfilled in her role as Circle of Twigs, that there might have been things she wanted to do in her life besides shop for groceries, make spaghetti, load the dishwasher and do our laundry."

Like Fairyland, Confessions of a Fairy's Daughter encompasses people and events that are central to gay history. The Toronto bathhouse raids that were the catalyst for LGBTQ human rights activism in Canada, for example. I came out in the late 70s, so I remember a lot of the stuff Alison describes. It is such a great book!

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