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mickey mikkelson
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Light Come Out of the Closet: Memoir of a Gay Soul
When a joyful boy realizes he is gay, he fights against family and religious prejudices to reclaim the God of love he learned about in hopes of discovering what it means to be a gay soul.
Growing up, before he knew much, Leslie had a firm grasp on three facets of his identity: “I love God. I love my family. I am gay.” Though those three pillars have stood firm throughout Leslie’s life, and throughout this vivid memoir, the process through which he reconciled them during his childhood, adolescence, and eventual coming-out proved long, lonely, and at times seemingly hopeless, due to his Catholic family’s zero-tolerance beliefs regarding homosexuality and literary and pop culture’s distinct lack of out gay figures during the 1960’s and ‘70s. At times, Leslie’s depression reached critical points of severity, but what pulled him from the depths time and time again was his persistent faith.

Leslie is the author of several spiritual/inspirational guides (Divine Destiny, My Last First Year), but in his memoir, he focuses on his childhood and adolescence, with particular emphasis on his complex relationships with his emotionally absent mother and with a God who, Leslie was told, would condemn him to hell. In clear, direct prose, Leslie recounts a childhood marked by loneliness and discomfort, yet facing this adversity he managed to engage in the challenging psychological and theological questioning it took to harmonize his faith, sexuality, and love of family and forge an unshakable identity from the ashes of despair.

Though the emphasis on loneliness and depression at times can be repetitive, this focus does elevate the impact of Leslie’s eventual spiritual and sexual transcendence at the conclusion, while also serving as corollary of Leslie’s theory that heaven can be accessed in life through dedicated spiritual work. As he puts it, “the Universe provides us with Heaven at birth. But as reflections of God, we must claim Heaven ourselves.” Leslie makes the case that only through such a journey could he experience this spiritual change and “earn [his] place among the seraphim.”

Takeaway: Touching memoir of finding one’s self and faith growing up gay and Catholic.

Comparable Titles: Kate Bornstein’s A Queer and Pleasant Danger, Kevin Sessums’s Mississippi Sissy.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A