Monday, September 1, 2014

Finding My Own Way... to happy & gay by Barbara Castle-Farmer #review

Title: Finding My Own Way… to happy & gay
Author: Barbara Castle-Farmer, 2014

After many years of democracy in a country with possibly one of the most liberal constitution in the world, it can be argued that LGBTI people do not face the same challenges that they did during the apartheid years. Though there are, undeniably, many issues that need to be dealt with, such as corrective rape of black lesbians in townships, we can now walk down the road, hand in hand with our partners; we can adopt children; and we can commit to our loved ones in a legally recognised civil partnership. None of this had been previously possible, and we should never forget that we’ve worked hard to get there.

What is immediately apparent when one picks up a copy of Finding My Own Way… by Barbara Castle-Farmer, is that she writes from the heart, and has opened a book that is important to read, whether you are gay or straight.

She bravely tells her life story, warts and all, from her earliest days when she had her first inkling that she was somehow different, to her initial explorations in same-sex relationships.

Something to bear in mind is that during the mid-1900s, there were no helpful resources available to LGBT people, who often lived in great isolation. Homosexuality was misunderstood and reviled, and young gay people really had to flounder around in the dark, so to speak, with little or no guidance.

This was an immense challenge that Castle-Farmer faced, especially here in South Africa, where there were so many restrictive laws. Yet this did not stop her from entering into relationships or building a career – and she forged ahead, which is inspiring to read.

Yet this book is more than a memoir. Castle-Farmer dispels many myths, and also serves to impart fascinating and relevant snippets of information at the start of every chapter – drawing one’s attention to important historical details that should not be lost in the mists of time.

Perhaps the only criticism that can be levelled against this book is the fact that there are numerous typographical errors throughout, which should have been picked up by a diligent proofreader. That being said, Castle-Farmer’s writing is thoroughly engaging, and I found that I could not put down this book until it was done. Thank you, lady, for sharing your story, and here’s hoping that it will light the way for others on this path.

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