This was brought home to me again in spades last Monday night, January 28, when I spoke before a group of gay men near my home in South Florida at a book signing where I also read from my new memoir SAINT UNSHAMED: A GAY MORMON’S LIFE—Healing From the Shame of Religion, Rape, Conversion Therapy & Cancer To Find My True Self, which goes on sale on March 27, 2019.
The memoir is the most personal, powerful and hence, the most political work I have written to date. In essence, in daring to tell all of the truth about my life, even in sharing the most sexually explicit and graphic details of my violent rape at the age of 18, in talking about aspects of my life and personality and character traits that most would never dare to say publicly, it takes to task the intolerance that exists among the overtly religious in our present-day world.
In the narration of the book, I talk about my fears in going “all the way” in my truth telling:
“In writing one’s memoir, and choosing to go public with the most sexually intimate details of one’s life—as I do within these pages—it’s scary. It’s like opening up one’s private diary to everyone on the planet. Was I absolutely certain that I wanted to share my most hidden and well-kept secrets with the world? How would the members of my Mormon family react once my book was published? Would the conservative members of my family shun me once they read the graphic details of my sexual experiences, particularly the most vile and violent details of my rape? Would sharing these true experiences from my life with the world, even matter?”
It is one thing to share the truth and nothing but the truth in the writing of my new memoir, and quite another to read aloud before a packed room of peopled, from a particularly sexually intimate passage from my book.
While onstage, with only a podium as protection, and reading the explicitly sexual passage before a group of other gay men, I felt extremely exposed. This, in itself, was a very political act, and it took a lot of inner courage to expose myself publicly in this way. But that, in essence, goes with the act of putting oneself out there in the world, writing of the most intimate details from my life, and ultimately sharing it with the public. As I performed the passage from the book the other night, I realized that this is the final step in a long coming-out process, going fully public. In this this, I can have no control over what people think of my work, of my reading, or of my life experience for that matter. Like all art, literature is subjective. What a reader experiences in reading it, like those who hear me in public reading passages from the book, depends entirely upon the experiences they bring to the book. Whether I reach them or not, as I would hope, an whether or not the work touches them and speaks to their experience is up to them; in essence, I have done my part, and now it is up to them. All I can do is do my very best to get my book reviewed, to promote it as best I can and get it out to the world.
Thus far, all of the advance reviews of my book have all been raves, and I am extremely grateful for the extremely positive reviews that the memoir has received thus far…just as I was pleased by the audience’s reaction to my reading on Monday night. It always helps when an author can sell his work. When each customer buys a copy of my work, it is one more affirmation that I must be doing something right. But how critics react, how readers respond, and how book sales add up, are all factors that are now in the hands of the universe, not mine.
By the way, the hardcover book, which officially goes on sale on March 27, 2019, can be purchased now on my author’s website at www.KerryAshton.com at the reduced price of $25, or you can officially pre-order either the hardcover or E-Book at all online outlets, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.