Book Review: The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon

I’m only on Ch. 19, but I have to get in this review now.

I’m blessed to call Moira Greyland one of my friends.  We met on Facebook through mutual friends; she is the daughter of gays, I am the ex-wife of one. We have exchanged numerous comments and messages; a number of months ago, she became my voice coach, and we have talked numerous times.  She is a joyous woman, enormously talented, expert in several fields, energetic, cheerful, and beautiful.

She is also a walking miracle.

And a very fine writer.

Moira’s parents were famous writers; I’d come across Marion Zimmer Bradley through her Mists of Avalon (which I bought but never could get into, and eventually threw away), but I wasn’t acquainted with the name of Walter Breen until I met Moira.  Both Marion and Walter were brilliant and famous in their respective fields; I was surprised to learn that she was one of the cofounders of the Society of Creative Anachronisms, and other Faires.

Walter, it turns out, was paranoid schizophrenic. Marion didn’t have a formal diagnosis, having never been institutionalized, but my hunch is that it would have been very bad, had there been one.  Nevertheless, both of them were brutal child molesters and abusers.  Moira was raped by both her parents, she watched her father bring into their home and seduce dozens of young boys, her mother go through bouts of insane and irrational rages.  How she has emerged from that hellhole to be the vibrant and powerful — if sometimes shell-shocked — woman that she is leaves me in utter awe.

There are moments in this book of wry humor (Walter would have sex with “anything with a pulse” — in my head, I can see and hear Moira speaking those words). There are recountings that are so carefully navigated to avoid the salacious but still leave one wanting to scream with fury, to reach through the pages and to rescue that little girl she was.  Moira had told me she has panic attacks in the shower, and now I fully understand why.

But the book is more than just her story; it is also the story of the fomentation of the gay rights and pederasty movement (I’m sorry, the two really are inescapably linked — and Breen wrote about “Greek love”) out of Berkeley in the 1960s and 70s. Walter’s schizophrenia thankfully left him incapable of playing the system by self-editing his thoughts and words, any more than his impulses, he was very vocal in his advocacy of sex with children, and wrote about it, and his words and attitudes have been recounted by more than just Moira, which allows us to see the train of thought of an active pederast. His testimony in the criminal trial that put him in prison for the rest of his life was appallingly candid; he actually seems to have believed he could persuade the judge that he was in the right in seducing young boys, that he was doing them an enormous favor. Moira weaves others’ writings, remembrances, and testimony through her own story to demonstrate that these events she recounts were not the creation of her own mind but a well-documented, publicly-known “secret” in the various communities where the family were connected.

There are hard paragraphs to read, yes, but overall The Last Closet is a story of survival and of triumph of love.  Moira shows us the brokenness that each of her parents brought into their marriage, and the tragic and twisted love they shared (they were so in tune with one another on many levels, that they would regularly buy one another the same gift). She shows us her carefully-forged escapes and survival techniques.

As I said in opening, I’m on Ch. 19.  But I know how the story will end, because I know Moira:  in triumph.

Right now, The Last Closet is only available in Kindle format. It will be available in hard copy soon.  And — I don’t know where she’s going to find the strength to do it all — in audiobook.  Yes, Moira’s going to record it herself.

It’s All Okay

Much better the day after that last post.  Most of the time I do very well.  This one took me unprepared.

There are days I know will be difficult:  my daughters’ birthdays. Our anniversary.  Christmas.  As those approach I give myself a bit extra pampering, allow myself a bit of grieving, buy myself a good chocolate bar and maybe some other delicacy.  I take extra naps.  In advance, I might take extra vitamins and immune boosters, since being low in spirits often coincides with a lowering of resistance to sickness.

I’m not a cry-er; it would probably be better for me if I were.

But what the mind doesn’t consciously identify, the body often will know and react to.  This can be brutally hard at times. Suddenly finding oneself low and not knowing why is almost more distressing than being low in itself.  When I’m low on certain expected dates, I know it’s because it’s that date and will pass by the time I wake up, tomorrow morning; but when I’m leveled and don’t know why, it leers at me and threatens to become my permanent state.  This is unrealistic, of course, but sometimes the feeling dominates all.

The good news is that I got through a couple of anniversaries, this past year, with barely a wobble.  There is a lot to be grateful for:  if time doesn’t heal all wounds, it does generally make them less acute.

Thirty Years

Thirty Years.  It’s been thirty years since the morning he came in and announced he was leaving. “I can’t take it any more,” he said.

Of course, he dropped this bombshell on me as I was changing clothes to go to my first final exam of the semester — timing I can’t help but feel was not an accident. He had sabotaged me before. This time the sabotage was only a bump in the road; I still completed my work.

But how those years have flown by! Thirty years! In some ways it seems like just a couple weeks.  There are hours and days when I still feel fragile and raw, uncertain where to step, when my wounds still feel raw and I feel timid and weak.

There are times when I grieve deeply for lost family, dreams, and possibilities. I look back on the thirty years when, under other circumstances, I might have remarried, had another family, known love. . . but for the wounds and scars left by the very disordered relationship of marriage with a gay man.

“You need to find yourself a straight man and get married again,” he counseled me, when my first social outing was a large school event, and my way was paid by two gay colleagues. But he himself never acknowledged to me that he is gay, and he denied to others that his homosexuality had anything to do with our divorce,

So how could he admit that the dysfunctional relationship between the two of us had done any damage to my mind and soul, at all?  He couldn’t, and all these years later, still can’t. Or won’t.

I get by.  Right now, anniversaries being low points, that’s the best I can do.  Forty-eight hours ago I was happy and hopeful; perhaps in forty-eight more I shall be there again. But right now I am low.

It passes, so I hang on.

Protecting your children: Media

You know we have enough difficulty protecting our children without big family media pushing a homosexual presence and agenda and trying to normalize the very dangerous and heartbreaking behaviors we want to shelter our kids from.

Disney has been pushing homosexuality for more than twenty-five years, now. They began with “Gay Day” back in 1991, and have gently, incrementally, been pushing the boundaries of propriety ever since.  It’s also an “open secret” that Disney has a big ol’ thick Gay “glass ceiling” in the company’s management, any more.

Disney used to be a wonderful, wholesome, educational family entertainment provider — now the “educational” component is NOT what most of us want for our children.



Tough decisions

When a woman loves a man with SSA (Same-Sex Attraction), she takes on a lot. If that isn’t the understatement of the year, I don’t know what is.  But she does – and she does it willingly because she sees so much more of that man she loves than his SSA.

Some of them will say, “This is not who I am, and I don’t want to be trapped here,” and they do a lot of hard work to get beyond  . . . to discover a stronger and better, more whole self — because although it’s not a popular thing to say, SSA is a soul wound.  That probably deserves a lot more consideration than I have time for right now, but I’ll say it again: SSA is a soul wound.

And so often, the man she loves too often hangs his identity on that SSA.

So this woman, she loves her man. And she sees in him a nobility of spirit and a beauty not only of form but also of soul that goes well beyond the physical, and she believes in him, and she invests herself in him –because that’s how women do things – and she looks for ways to help and support and encourage him —

Sometimes those ways aren’t wise. Sometimes we get so caught up in trying to shelter the people we love that we can start to treat them like our child instead of our equal.  He has these struggles, these anxiety issues on top of everything else, how can I help him? and meaning to do the best, she sends the message that, in her eyes, he is small and weak and can’t do it without her . . . which is part of that soul wound, to begin with, that he’s small and weak.

“He’s got all these struggles and I’ve got to support him — I’ve got to take care of all this other stuff so he can take care of himself.”  I hear it said with a raw panic in the wife’s voice. “I don’t know what to do to help him, but he needs my help. I have to help him!”

Well, there might be a bit more to consider.  If he’s getting appropriate professional help with some of these issues —

I think it’s got to be one of the hardest things a woman can do, to look at her man, to see his wounds, his fears, his weakness . . . and take her paws off the things she could so easily fix for him if only he’d let her . . . and let him deal with it.

Because that’s what a man needs to do. He needs to deal with it – whatever “It” is.  He needs to know he’s competent and capable. That he’s strong. And that’s really the best way a woman can tell her man that she sees him as a Man, simply by backing off.

“Well, I know you can handle this. I believe in you.”

But it only works if she backs off, detaches, and lets him fight it out by himself — whether it’s anxiety disorder or depression or the plumbing crisis under the kitchen sink.

Even when it feels as if the roof is going to collapse over her head and the earth is going to open up beneath her feet, she’s got to keep her paws off.  Even when she sees just what he ought to be doing but he isn’t seeing it and she wants so badly to get in there and fix it for him . . . she’s got to turn her back and get about her proper business and let him struggle.

A woman can’t fill the need a man has to be validated by another man (ideally his Dad), but she can meet his need to be respected as a man. Even when he can’t see that need, it’s there. We can’t replace the absent masculine affirmation every boy needs, ours has its own value.

And if we withhold that respect, we can do a whole lot of damage.

Sometimes the best support we can give a man is just to get the heck out of his way.  Make a safe place for him to collapse when he needs it, maybe —  safe from humiliation and belittling or patronizing — but basically stay out of his way and let him be and do the normal things men do as a matter of course.