Author: Kevin Jennings
Rating: One Thumb Up/ One Down
I have read memoirs where there are colorful characters, many funny anecdotes, and much action. This one kind of goes on a train ride and keeps you going in one speed. Being raised back in the 80’s when gay bashing was big, parents blamed each other for their child gone gay, and having to be like Clark Kent and lead a secret double life was the name of the game. Especially if your in a strict religious family; even more so if your dad is the preacher. I’m sure there could have been a little more going on in this author’s life to kind of liven up the book.
By age six, Kevin Jennings knew he was going straight to hell. His father, an evangelist preacher, as much as told him so. During the 1960’s, Kevin’s family moved from one trailer park in the south to another as his dad fought to hold onto a pulpit. Then Kevin’s eighth birthday, Kevin’s father suffered a heart attack as Kevin stood, helpless, at his side. When he cried at the funeral, Kevin’s older brothers admonished him, -Don’t be a faggot.” The warning was a key lesson. In school, -Faggot” became more familiar to Kevin than his own name. Nobody watching the regular torture of Kevin’s school days could have anticipated that he would ever want to return to the classroom.
Kevin’s father may have preached damnation, but his mother showed him the road to salvation. Forced to drop out of school at the age of nine, Alice Verna Johnson Jennings fervently believed in the power education held for her children. While working a series of blue-collar jobs to support her family, she struggled with her conservative Appalachian roots when her oldest son married a black woman and her youngest came out.
‘s story is a powerful account of a woman’s triumph over huge obstacles, including her own prejudices.
–Kevin Jennings’s memoir is a potent story, beautifully told, of the daily struggle as well as the love and courage required to maintain pride and live with integrity in the face of deep-seated prejudice.” , Otis Charles, Episcopal Bishop of Utah, retired