In 1937, at the age of nineteen, Ralph Hall, suicidal, revealed his sexual orientation to his grandmother, knowing she would comfort him. He was out for three years afterwards, until an indiscretion sent him back into the closet. At twenty-four, while in the army, he met and married Irene. The couple made their home on the San Francisco Peninsula and had four children. Ralph was an attentive husband and father—albeit with an intense interest in interior design, flower arranging, and fine objects—and a diligent worker who rose to payroll accountant at Standard Oil.
It wasn't until 1975 that Ralph came out to his middle daughter, Laura, telling her that he had once considered his sexuality an aberration, an affliction. She was shocked, as the possibility her father might be gay had never crossed her mind. Irene had known Ralph’s secret for eighteen years, but the two remained married until she died. It was only then that this charismatic man and devoted father, by now in his eighties, could freely express his authentic, gay self.
Here, Laura paints a vivid and honest portrait of her beloved father and the effect his secret had on her own life.
WINNER LGBTQ+: Nonfiction 2023 International Book Awards
Transparency is one of the most effective tools we have that can help us heal. It can also help us understand ourselves better as well as other people. What would you do if you believed you only had months to live? How would you feel if your community was stolen from you? Could you survive living on the streets for any length of time? Can you imagine what it's like to try to find a job when you have felonies on your record? Are there any words to describe the heart of a mother as she watches her youngest child die?
It’s taken my whole life to realize that the main person I’ve been battling against has been me. As such, my memoir delves into raw detail about my war with my myself. I open up about my crystal meth addiction and how I became a drug dealer in Houston, Tx. The pain of growing up in poverty under the hand of an abusive dad is also put on display. The time I spent serving in the Air Force during Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and the promiscuity that went along with it, is divulged as well. I talk about how I received my HIV + diagnosis on a voicemail and my Hep B + diagnosis in the postal mail. My story gets more intense as I share about how I got 3 felonies, the time I spent in jail, and how I ended up homeless after S.W.A.T. kicked my door in. I talk about the biggest heartbreak in my life which happened when I was kicked out of a megachurch, that I had served with my whole soul for years, just because I am a member of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and refused to accept the conversion therapy package they offered.
So often people judge those who have been in similar situations. My hope is that my honesty can offer a glimpse into these issues from the inside, rather than from the outside looking in.
I struggled with dividing my memoir into two separate books, but I felt it would be more impactful to tell everything all at once. My memoir is my testament and it’s the greatest form of outreach I have ever offered to the world. I hope that I can earn your trust and attention with the words I have written within these pages.