It isn't easy growing up in the Bible Belt of East Tennessee when you start having same-sex fantasies as a child, especially when your father is a preacher who thinks that homosexuality is a sin.
Moments of pleasure and the torment of guilt intersect in this memoir by Jeffrey L. Carrier. He relates the exploration of his nature and his effort to make sense of his feelings, taking us along on his journey of acceptance. Beginning with his childhood in the 1960s, he introduces us to the many people he meets along the way, including his grandmothers, an aunt with a refreshingly open mind, two strong southern women who taught the boy some important life lessons and a kind and nurturing professor’s wife in Michigan. He presents his father as a man of contrasts, a beloved pastor devoted to his profession whose priorities shift when his wife dies and he quickly remarries.
The joy and pain of loving another man for the first time while attending a Baptist college climaxes with a suicide attempt. We follow Jeffrey’s journey as he leaves the hills of Tennessee for the skyscrapers of Manhattan. There he finally comes to terms with his sexuality and takes his first steps into an openly gay lifestyle, the AIDS crisis of the 1980s looming large in the background. His life takes another turn when he meets silent film star Patsy Ruth Miller. Trying to reclaim lost fame by penning her memoirs, she introduces him to a life of old-Hollywood glamour.
Other highlights include a life-changing experience in Northern Michigan, working at a hectic advertising agency, and discovering faded gay love letters in the basement of a Brooklyn brownstone. By turns romantic, heart-wrenching and sentimental, the book offers something for anyone seeking more understanding of the challenges facing the LGBTQ community.