Push Play, Then Work

Posted on May 10, 2018. Filed under: Art, Family, Gay parent, Poems, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

May 10, 2018

Greg and Emily 1956

Dad & Me circa 1956

I’ve been busy. Not just busy, but crazy busy. You might not see it because so much of what I’ve been up to means I’m buried in my office. I’m knee-deep in a memoir about Gregory Thornton, my dad (or maybe these are short stories?). If you know me, you probably are aware that my Dad was an eccentric, gay artist. Like gay men of his time, he stayed in the closet, had a family and, after the culture shifted he torched his marriage—and not in a passionate way. Starting in 1977, he also fairly consistently recorded his life on audio tapes. When he passed away in 2000, he accumulated 10K hours of cassettes (yes, 10000 hours!!) Earlier he arranged to have the Kinsey Institute archive them. He thought they would make a fascinating book. I think so too.

When I started this book project a few years back, I traveled to Bloomington, Indiana to visit the Institute and listen to the tapes. I stayed for as many days as my hotel budget could tolerate and listened to my dad ramble mostly familiar stories. Sometimes I transcribed an interesting segment.

By last year, I gained enough credibility with my Kinsey contacts to trust me with tapes outside the Institute.  Now, I am privileged to receive a package of ten tapes via FedEx every few weeks. Meanwhile, my master-geek husband discovered Audacity, a nifty sound program that allows me to digitize the cassettes. After duplicating the batch, I send them back and return to listening until the next batch arrives.

My dad had a big personality, a voice that carried throughout the house and an ego to match. In telling this story, my biggest challenge is to not feel cast into his shadow, which is where most people ended up when they were in his presence. Don’t get me wrong. We were great friends, but I have to pay attention to my own voice to write this story. I think writing this blog will help. And, since I’m often asked how the book is going, this is an easy way to share updates.

So feel free ask me questions. If you know any books about having a gay parent—not BEING a gay parent—let me know. In preparing a book proposal, I could use some help finding competitive literature. Gotta go.  Gotta change the tape!

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    A writer and cancer survivor chronicles her renewed dedication to art and words..

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