BOOK REVIEW, September 19, 2021, Saurabh Sharma
“Laura Hall in her exquisitely crafted and deeply moving memoir Affliction: Growing Up with a Closeted Gay Dad (She Writes Press, 2021) unearths answers to these questions, treading expertly the personal and political with her measured and taut recollection of her family life in the San Francisco Peninsula…” (Click here to read more.)
BOOK REVIEW, July 19, 2021 – KIRKUS
A deeply moving personal remembrance… (Click on link to read more.)
BOOK REVIEW, July 2, 2021 – Gay in the Cle (Views of a Southern Gay Man Living in Cleveland)
This opening sentence of the prologue was one that stuck me to my very core. It was a feeling I had at a very young age, when I first knew I was different. It was this one sentence that sold me on this book. What kept me engaged is the fashion in which this writer shares her stories. It is arranged in flashbacks of moments in their history where small secrets are hinted at and the truths of the world’s hardships are exposed. It brought me back to my childhood listening to my grandfather recount his memories to us, in hopes to impart wisdom for us to navigate our lives… (Click on link to read more.)
San Francisco Chronicle – Open Forum
By Laura Hall
October 20, 2015
The text of the article:
Hillary Rodham Clinton wants to revise the records of LGBT service members who were unfairly dismissed from the military. According to American Veterans for Equal Rights, from World War II to 2011 approximately 114,000 received dishonorable discharges because of their sexual orientation.
Speaking at a Human Rights Campaign event on Oct. 3, Clinton, a Democratic presidential candidate, proposed that the records of these dismissed service members be amended to honorable discharges.
I hope this happens and that it also extends to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civilian federal employees who experienced such discrimination.
From 1950 until 1975, the U.S. Civil Service Commission could fire employees for being gay. My father was one of them.
At the time, he was employed as a bookkeeper at what was then called the Veterans Administration hospital in San Francisco. By then, he’d been doing this type of work for more than two decades, including four years while serving in the Army during World War II and almost 20 years for a plumbing contractor on the Peninsula.
He was so good at his job, he told me, his fellow employees accused him of being “one of those efficiency experts.” He got a kick out of that. “I’m just doing my job,” he chuckled.
In 1967, the Civil Service Commission discovered he was gay. At age 49, and as the sole wage earner for our family of six, the VA hospital dismissed him.
With a now-blemished work record, he accepted a night clerk position at a shabby motel near San Francisco International Airport, returning home to us only on weekends.
Midway through my sophomore year, my parents pulled me out of Notre Dame High School and re-enrolled me at Carlmont, the local public high school.
My father turned in our two cars, only partially paid for, and returned with a single Volkswagen bug. The six of us would never travel in a single vehicle again.
Mom took a low-paying job developing wedding photos. In her journal at the time, she wrote, “Left 4 children at home.” Working while we were all still in school wasn’t something she’d ever planned to do. Ranging in age from 13 to 17, all of us but my younger sister took after-school jobs.
There still wasn’t enough money to cover our fixed expenses.
Dad filed for bankruptcy. The bill collectors descended. My siblings and I weren’t allowed to answer the phone or the doorbell unless our parents were home.
From behind the closed door of my bedroom, I could hear my parents’ anxious whispers coming from the dark hallways of our house.
Overnight, our world was turned upside-down, and I didn’t know why.
My father wouldn’t come out to me for another eight years.
To make amends to him and to all LGBT people who similarly lost their jobs, I propose that the U.S. government do the following: Issue a written apology to all civilian federal employees who were dismissed from their jobs for being LGBT.
I’d be honored to accept the apology on behalf of my father, who died in 2008 at the age of 90.
My father was a good man. He was a good bookkeeper.
Laura Hall is writing a memoir about growing up on the Peninsula in the 1950s and ’60s with a closeted gay father and a straight mother. She and her husband live in San Francisco.