My Father's Closet

My Father's Closet

by Karen A. McClintock


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Thirty years after her father’s death, Karen McClintock sets out to find the gay father she never really knew. As we follow the unraveling family secret, we find ourselves drawn into her story as they stumble into infidelity, grieve heartbreaking losses, and remain loyal in love.

Set in Columbus, Ohio, My Father’s Closet tells the story of how just before the war, McClintock’s parents fell in love and married, while overseas in Germany the man whom she believes became her father’s lover was concealing his Jewish and gay identities in order to escape to America. A set of her father’s journals, letters her parents sent to each other during the Second World War, and a mysterious painting all lead her toward the truth about her gay father. McClintock weaves a complex secret into the fabric of lives we truly care about. And in the process, she leads us out of her father’s closet.

This gripping memoir captures the longing children feel for a distant or hidden parent and taps into the complexity of human connection and abandonment. The characters are resilient and vibrant. The hidden lovers, the nosey neighbors, and surprise lovers all show up. In the end, this extraordinary family finds ways to connect and freedom to love. Anyone who grew up with a family secret will appreciate the dynamics afoot in this fast-paced and compelling story. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814253960
Publisher: Ohio State University Press
Publication date: 04/04/2017
Edition description: 1
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Karen A. McClintock, PhD, is a psychologist specializing in family secrets and shame recovery. She is a national workshop leader and teaches human sexuality at Southern Oregon University. She is the author of four previous books, including Sexual Shame: An Urgent Call to Healing and Shame-Less Lives, Grace-Full Congregations.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Prologue xi

Winged Cupid

Chapter 1 Winged Cupid 3

Chapter 2 Grandma Wanted a Girl 13

Chapter 3 Courtship by Pie 17

Chapter 4 The Porch Swing 25

Chapter 5 Awestruck 31

Chapter 6 Hamburg, Germany 36

Chapter 7 The Radio Show 44

Chapter 8 The Lesson 51

Separated by War

Chapter 9 Pearl Harbor Day 65

Chapter 10 Farewell 70

Chapter 11 Boot Camp 74

Chapter 12 Engagement Letter 84

Chapter 13 Gathered Here 86

Early Years

Chapter 14 Groundbreaking 95

Chapter 15 Thanksgiving 103

Chapter 16 Mom's Little Ditties 108

Chapter 17 Independence Days 114

Chapter 18 No One Dives Deep 120

Chapter 19 The Columbs Gallery of Fine Arts 124

Chapter 20 Our New Basement 129

Chapter 21 An Accident Waiting to Happen 136

Forbidden Love

Chapter 22 The Faculty Club 145

Chapter 23 Student Protests 150

Chapter 24 The New York Gay Liberation March 155

Chapter 25 Stephanie 164

Chapter 26 No Going Back 168

Chapter 27 New York Underground 179

Chapter 28 The Pipes Might Freeze 187

Out of the Closet

Chapter 29 The Crash 195

Chapter 30 The AIDS Epidemic 200

Chapter 31 Last Days 205

Chapter 32 The Shiny Blue Casket 212

Chapter 33 Saying Goodbye 216

Chapter 34 The Wake 220

Chapter 35 Mom Comes Out at Last 224

Chapter 36 The Bust 229

Chapter 37 National Coming Out Day 234

Epilogue 242

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