June brings summer and Father’s Day, and is also a time of special significance to the gay,
lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer community (LGBTQ).
June was chosen as Gay Pride Month to serve as a reminder of a pivotal moment in the fight for gay rights. It was June 28, 1969 in New York City when police raided a bar frequented by LGBTQ people. The raid sparked off a riotous outrage and significant backlash from the community who had silently endured this sort of persecution (and worse) for years. This event, called the Stonewall Riot, is regarded as being the catalyst for the gay liberation movement in the United States.
Twelve years later, in February 1981, a similar police raid took place on four bathhouses in Toronto, Ontario. In a still tersely homophobic country, these bathhouses were havens for gay men to congregate. Over $50,000 worth of damage was caused by the police, and nearly 300 men were arrested, all for suspicion of conduct. The following day, more than 3,000 people marched in protest of the police’s actions, signifying Canada’s own movement towards gay rights and freedoms.
During these revolutionary years, a Peterborough, Ontario man began acknowledging and coming to terms with his own homosexuality. A professor, husband and devoted father of three, Joseph Wearing found coming out both exhilarating in its honesty, and terrifying in the implications it would hold for himself and his family. Despite homosexuality’s decriminalization in Canada in 1969, it was still permissible to discriminate against someone for being gay. Page 103 of a pamphlet circulated by the League Against Homosexuals in 1980 reads, “Any sane, rational, healthy society does not need queers for anything.”
In the face of all this intolerance, though, Joseph Wearing was determined to be true to himself and also continue being the best father he be for his children. Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter: Growing Up with a Gay Dad is the memoir written by his daughter, Alison Wearing. She notes in the prelude that although some may take offence to her use of the term “fairy,” she has “never felt or used it in anything but the most endearing terms, so have only affectionate associations, as does my father. My apologies to those who equate the word with anything but playful acceptance.”
Informative, personal, and entertaining, this memoir is an easy but powerful read that hits all the marks. Capturing funny and endearing family moments while navigating the personal and national landscape of the gay experience, and all the injustices and triumphs along the way.
In Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter: Growing Up with a Gay Dad she writes: “The thing about having a gay parent is that so long as the rest of society can get over it, the ‘gay’ part isn’t nearly as important as the ‘parent’ part; in fact, it’s incidental. Constancy of love, truthfulness of heart, and joyfulness of life count infinitely more than who is doing what with which gender in the bedroom. Being in the presence of love is being in the presence of love; ultimately, it is the only thing that truly matters.”
Alison Wearing’s book is available at Whitehorse Public Library.