A Gay Son's Search for His Father
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 An absorbing memoir of a tormented upbringing in the fundamentalist Christian South. The author made headlines as a college student in 1993 when his father, Marine Col. Fred Peck, testified before Congress that, although he loved his gay son, there was ``no place in the military for him.'' In his first book, Peck gives a scrupulously honest account of what led to this episode: the intermeshed processes of his break with conservative Christianity and acceptance of his sexuality. He thrusts us into violence and confusion at the start, telling of his vicious stepfather, his real father's mysterious absence, and the frigid Calvinism of his maternal grandparents, shared in part by his mother. Peck attended fundamentalist schools, and before he was ten he was aware of his attraction to other boys, a trait that everyone he knew considered an abomination. For a brief time he joined a charismatic group that encouraged speaking in tongues, providing him with a means of masked self-expression. He reunited intermittently with the father who existed only as a photographic ideal throughout his early childhood; his attempts to define this relationship were compromised until finally he came out to Dad on the eve of the Congressional hearings about gays in the military. Peck avoids polemical argument against fundamentalist beliefs: He recalls without rancor (but, unfortunately, with somewhat overwrought rhetoric) his adolescent attempts to immerse himself in religion while harboring his secret, and he treats his nemeses fairly--even his terrifying grandmother. He never lectures, either about gay activism or about gays in the military. Instead, he negotiates the story of his emotional coming-of-age with a relentless candor that underscores the excruciatingly repressive effects of bigoted dogma and the bravery needed to surmount them. With vivid expressiveness, Peck charts a particularly hazardous passage of self-discovery. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-02-595362-1
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1995