The Inheritance of Shame: A Memoir

The Inheritance of Shame: A Memoir

by Peter Gajdics


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A page-turner, at once fascinating and deeply moving, "The Inheritance of Shame" is a memoir with shades of "A Little Life" by Hanya Yanagihara and enough hope and joy to inspire anyone who has ever been shamed by their family or society.

Author Peter Gajdics spent six years in a bizarre form of conversion therapy (delivered in the form of primal therapy) that attempted to "cure" him of his homosexuality. Kept with other patients in a cult-like home in British Columbia, Canada, Gajdics was under the authority of a dominating, rogue psychiatrist who controlled his patients, in part, by creating and exploiting a false sense of family. Juxtaposed against his parents' tormented past–his mother's incarceration and escape from a communist concentration camp in post-World War II Yugoslavia, and his father's upbringing as an orphan in war-torn Hungary, "The Inheritance of Shame" explores the universal themes of childhood trauma, oppression, and intergenerational pain. Told over a period of decades, the story shows us the damaging repercussions of conversion therapy and reminds us that resilience, compassion, and the courage to speak the truth exist within us all.

All over the United States and Canada, districts, cities and states are banning conversion, ex-gay and reparative therapies. This book offers the most complete and compelling reason for those bans to date. A groundbreaking memoir, "The Inheritance of Shame" offers insights into overcoming all kinds of shame, especially that which has trickled down from previous generations, and into the complicated but all-too-worthwhile process of forgiveness.

This work also is a powerful example of "healing through memoir."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781941932087
Publisher: Dokument Forlag
Publication date: 05/16/2017
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 934,800
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Peter Gajdics is a recipient of a writers grant from Canada Council for the Arts, a fellowship from The Summer Literary Seminars, and an alumni of Lambda Literary Foundation's "Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices." When not in Budapest, Hungary, his home away from home, Peter lives in Vancouver, Canada. This is his first book.

Read an Excerpt

In my grade nine sex-education class at my all-boys Catholic high school, I learned all about the "lifestyle of the homosexual," which sounded frighteningly similar to the life that I was already living. Like a revised Book of Revelation, the final chapter of our textbook explained it all, beginning with the homosexual’s choice to act on an immoral and intrinsically disordered behavior and ending with their self-imposed misery, diseased body, and assured annihilation. There was no happy ending for the homosexual.

If I thought of anything during the endless hours of English, French, Mathematics, Catechism, History, and Social Studies, I thought only of how I could divide myself in two, like a wishbone, stray as far away from my desires as possible. Instead of homework each night, I lip-synched songs from my black Denon portable turntable: Elton John's "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" . . . Three Dog Night's "The Show Must Go On." The Rolling Stones scared me because [my sister] Kriska had listened to the Stones before she ran away from home. Maybe if I listened to the Stones then I, too, would end up like her: an outcast, unloved, a runaway. So I listened to Queen instead, alone in my bedroom after dinner, acting out the lyrics to "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality . . .

Despite my prayers the night before, the blinding light of day forced me up and out of the house each morning and back to school where facts and figures from all my classes flowed over me. Nothing stuck; nothing was absorbed. If the Catholic Brothers, each of them cassocked and clutching long wooden rulers, didn't mock me, make fun of my endless failed exams, my sixteen percents, then, when they read my grades aloud for all to scorn, they'd pronounce the first syllable of my last name like the severest of punishments.

"Let's see how poorly Mr. 'Gay-dicks' did on his French exam today, shall we?" Or else the other boys crowded 'round me during recess like crows around a carcass, chanting "Gay-dicks . . . Gay-dicks . . . Gay-dicks," as if my name were the worst thing I could be.

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