Confessions of A Fairy's Daughter

Confessions of A Fairy's Daughter

Growing up With A Gay Dad

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
Rate this:

NATIONAL BESTSELLER ( The Globe and Mail )

Finalist for the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction [2014]
Longlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize [2014]

A moving memoir about growing up with a gay father in the 1980s, and a tribute to the power of truth, humour, acceptance and familial love.

Alison Wearing led a largely carefree childhood until she learned, at the age of 12, that her family was a little more complex than she had realized. Sure her father had always been unusual compared to the other dads in the neighbourhood: he loved to bake croissants, wear silk pyjamas around the house, and skip down the street singing songs from Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. But when he came out of the closet in the 1970s, when homosexuality was still a cardinal taboo, it was a shock to everyone in the quiet community of Peterborough, Ontario--especially to his wife and three children.

Alison's father was a professor of political science and amateur choral conductor, her mother was an accomplished pianist and marathon runner, and together they had fed the family a steady diet of arts, adventures, mishaps, normal frustrations and inexhaustible laughter. Yet despite these agreeable circumstances, Joe's internal life was haunted by conflicting desires. As he began to explore and understand the truth about himself, he became determined to find a way to live both as a gay man and also a devoted father, something almost unheard of at the time. Through extraordinary excerpts from his own letters and journals from the years of his coming out, we read of Joe's private struggle to make sense and beauty of his life, to take inspiration from an evolving society and become part of the vanguard of the gay revolution in Canada.

Confessions of a Fairy's Daughter is also the story of "coming out" as the daughter of a gay father. Already wrestling with an adolescent's search for identity when her father came out of the closet, Alison promptly "went in," concealing his sexual orientation from her friends and spinning extravagant stories about all of the "great straight things" they did together. Over time, Alison came to see that life with her father was surprisingly interesting and entertaining, even oddly inspiring, and in fact, there was nothing to hide.

Balancing intimacy, history and downright hilarity, Confessions of a Fairy's Daughter is a captivating tale of family life: deliciously imperfect, riotously challenging, and full of life's great lessons in love. Alison brings her story to life with a skillfully light touch in this warm, heartfelt and revelatory memoir.

Publisher: Toronto : Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2013
ISBN: 9780345807571
Branch Call Number: 306.874208664 Wea
Characteristics: 292 p. : ill


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Oct 18, 2016

Simply sensational. I often found myself smiling and laughing with goosebumps. I felt genuine fondness and care for Wearing and her family, and was grateful for her (and her father) publishing this account of their lives. It is a great look into part of history from the perspective of very intelligent and articulate people. I'm not a fan of memoirs, so this must not be one! *Smile*

Jan 03, 2016

I bought this book on a whim, and will read Wearing's other book as a consequence. Another fine Canadian writer.
This is Wearing's memoir, centering around her Father who didn't come out until he was 40, disrupting the nuclear family in which she'd been raised. We get three different perspectives, from her and her parents, and the writing varies (in timbre) along a spectrum of fun to deep. This is heavy material, and the author is painfully honest in telling the story. It is great work.
This book may draw interest as a LGBT favorite, but it is a fine memoir, regardless of interest.

Bierlingen Nov 10, 2014

Wonderful, sensitive book with laugh out loud moments. One thing that comes through loud and clear is that the presence of love in a family eventually overrides any adversity.

blue May 20, 2014

A fun book to read, I laughed and cried.
Alison is a wonderful writer. I felt that I had known this family all my life.

Jan 06, 2014

a fairy's tale with a happy ending.

Dec 12, 2013

A loving and lovely exploration of the author's childhood and her father's role in it. She's funny, compassionate and open-minded, recalling and understanding her mother's actions in the family, as well. She describes the little details that made up her childhood, the type of details we all just accept as children and then, once we grow up and begin putting the pieces in place, begin to see as demonstrating our parents being actual persons living actual lives, not merely adjuncts of our own lives. This is a really great book.

Nov 21, 2013

An entertaining and uplifting memoir that encompasses people and events central to Canadian gay history, such as the Toronto bathhouse raids that were the catalyst for LGBTQ human rights activism in Canada.

sjustice Jul 20, 2013

Brilliant. Touching. Poetic. Humourous. Poignant. Explores the complexities of human nature, love, and family. A quick read because you just don't want to put it down...

Jun 29, 2013

Real. Genuine. Uplifting. Heart-breaking. Mellow. Touching . . . and much much more. Simply Outstanding.

bibliotechnocrat Jun 22, 2013

Great book. This memoir of growing up with a gay father is absorbing and engaging. Don't pick it up just as you're preparing to move...

The book is structured to give the various points of view of the main players. First is the author's childhood (and later) gradual realization that her father is not like the others - with her subsequent retreat into the closet of denial, even as her father makes the opposite journey. Next is a description of the same time span from the father's point of view (based on journals, notes, letters, and so on). The mother's experiences are given brief attention with a final section bringing the narrative up to date with the way the family now functions.

It's often forgotten that the family of an out person must themselves also be 'outed' as the relations of gay people. This book explores this experience from both sides of the coin. Well worth your time.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at WPL

To Top