It must have taken a lot of courage for Wearing’s father to come out in the late 70’s when attitudes were much different than today. He was a university professor which would be have a liberal atmosphere. He travelled for work which gave him room to explore. Wearing describes her father as always being eccentric: hands waving as he talked, listening to opera as he cooked elaborate meals and skipping down the street. Being a child when he came out Wearing was most accepting. Though she never discussed the issue with her brothers, she did have a close friend to confess. Her friend whose parents are constantly fighting points out, “So your father’s a faggot, big whoop. At least he’s not a lying, cheating, son-of-a-bitch, drunken asshole.” As her father meets other gay fathers and realizes he isn’t the only man who married a woman in order to conform to social norms. Both her parents are very loving and have always taken care of her and her siblings. Still, Wearing’s father’s homosexuality does cause the end of his marriage, and Wearing deals with the experience of coming from a broken home with sensitivity and honesty. “It never occurred to me to hate Dad for being gay. What I did hate was the Greyhound bus, that long sprint on the dog’s back to and from Toronto. I hated the shame my mother wore in her eyes. But more than anything else, I hated all the stories I needed to invent about my life, the dancing pink elephant in the room that I spent my adolescence trying to conceal.”
The book has an interesting structure in that it is told from four points of view: the author’s is the majority of the book, for her father’s he provided her with a box of letters and a journal, for her mother’s she interviewed her and lastly “The Way We See It Now” thirty years later.
It’s a good read.