Learning how to be gay and Christian.
From an early age, Barth knew she was different than other girls, and she knew she had to keep this difference a secret. Raised in the Midwest in an old-fashioned Presbyterian home, the author was trained to view homosexuality as deviant and sinful. As such, she could not accept her sexuality and certainly could not reconcile it with her faith. As Barth grew to more fully recognize her attraction to her own gender, she reacted by shutting herself off as much as possible from that very attraction, pretending to be straight. Eventually, she found herself diving into Christian fundamentalism as a way out of her dilemma, going so far as to take part in a class designed to change her sexual preference. Throughout, she was accompanied on and off by an “imaginary Jesus.” Barth’s concept of her imaginary Jesus may be difficult to grasp for many readers. He is an imaginary friend, an inner voice, someone for her to cry out to in times of desperation, but he is certainly not the divine Jesus Christ of organized Christianity. Barth recalls her youth and young adulthood with vivid detail and imagery. Though much of the book centers on her faith or life amid various faith traditions, she also weaves detailed stories about her relationships with others, including the woman she would go on to marry.
At times, the narrative becomes dull as Barth veers down paths few readers will find of interest—e.g., a discussion of her good credit report when she applied for a home loan. Apart from such divergences, however, the author provides an intriguing life story.