Good-bye, I Love You
Gold Leaf Press (Carson City, Nevada), 1995.
This book was a major experience for me. I'm still not sure exactly how towrite this review. There is so much to say about what led to my desire toread it, and my reaction to doing so that, at first, I wasn't sure if Ishould break it up and make it a "standard" book review, with a separatereply to it, or just keep it all together. I finally opted for the second,with the purpose of continuity of thought in mind.
Reading this book caused a small amount of controversy at my place. My wife, Elizabeth, has shown some concern over my "interest in homosexual activity". I've tried to convince her that I have absolutely no interest in pursuing this lifestyle. My only motive is to try to understand some of the struggles and trials that the people suffering from "Same Sex Attraction" (SSA) go through.
A lot of this stems from the time when I was 17 years old and my closest friend was "Gay". We were almost inseparable, and we could talk about nearly anything. (Or so I thought.) About three or four months after I met him, he started talking about the cruel kids in his school, where he used to live, that would always tease him, and call him gay, or fairy, etc. Every now and then he would bring this up as an off-hand comment. Unfortunately, at that time I was too naive to consider the possibility that any of my friends could actually be gay. After awhile though, I began to wonder if he was trying to tell me something.
We did a lot together. Went on double dates (with girls :-), to rock concerts (Aerosmith, Rush, etc.) Oh, and, uh...The Osmonds (He was seriously into them, but I forgave him... :-) Oddly enough, that was how he was introduced to, and joined the church!) Sometimes, we just hung out and killed time together. The one thing we never did, was seriously talk about SSA.
Yes, he had "the walk", and yes, he had "the talk", but those were stereotypes, and I didn't believe in stereotypes back then, and for the most part don't hold to them to this day. I had my suspicions, but I didn't think he could feel comfortable talking to me about it and I didn't want to put him in the position of lying to me, so I just never asked. And, I guess more than anything else, I hoped I was wrong, and if I was wrong and still brought it up, I would have been just like those cruel kids from his old school. It was just better left alone.
Then, over the period of about a year or so, he started drifting away from me, and getting involved with people that I felt were really bad influences on him. I saw less and less of him over the next few years, and the little that I saw, and heard caused me more and more concern.
Finally, about fours years after I first met him, he told me he was moving with his family to Florida. He promised to write, but I never heard from him again. (In case you're wondering, a good cyber-friend of mine already suggested http://www.switchboard.com but that search came up with only one name match, and he wasn't my old friend.) (It did help my wife find an old friend though... Thanks, Rex)
BTW, this actually is a book review. The above, I felt was necessary tolet you know my mind set in approaching this book. I think it will mostlikely be a different book for each person, depending on their mind set.
One of my purposes in reading this book (I wanted to go out and buy it, but I was afraid Elizabeth would have been even more concerned.) was to learn a little about what my friend might have been struggling with and the things he may have been thinking.
I learned a lot. I learned that I'm very uncomfortable with the choices that Gerald Pearson made. My friend may have made the same choices, and the sad possibility is he may have met the same fate. I also learned that I'm no longer convinced that SSA is an addiction. (A year ago, I thought otherwise, and this also bothers Elizabeth. Fortunately, a husband and wife aren't commanded to agree in all things.)
One of the ways I looked at it was; do other addictive behaviors tend tohave (admittedly stereotypical) personality traits associated with them?Are alcoholics more sensitive or artistic than the average? On the otherhand; have these other addictions been treated with extreme methods such asshock therapy with positive results
I also learned that the "official church policy" on treatment of SSA, atthat time, left a lot to be desired. I know my friend had several sessionswith LDS SS, and I now wonder what treatment they were recommending then(late 70's).
Did this book raise my level of understanding?
I don't know.
It definately changed my understanding, but it also created new questionsfor me. Questions, that to my way of thinking, probably won't be answeredin my lifetime.
As you might imagine, Carol Lynn has some of these questions herself.Quoting from her afterword (which is written 11 years after Gerald's death)she says,
"Of course I wonder what life would have been like if Gerald had found thatmythical "cure" he sought so long, or if he had simply disciplined himselfinto leaving his homosexuality unexplored. There was more pain than Iguessed when I looked at the bright faces of my young children lightingtheir candles at their father's memorial service. But I have to believethat we can take the wounds we receive and let them make us stronger andwiser. Emily, John, Aaron, and Katy will continue to do that."
No one knows the scars and pain a child will bear through the years, becauseof our mistakes today.
Can I recommend this book to others?
There are some catches though. You must have an open mind. And you must be prepared to learn about true forgiveness. Including, how to condemn the sin and not the sinner. I'm quite certain I couldn't have done anything near what she did. She is truely an amazing woman.
© 1996 Russell L. Hansen