The Inheritance of Shame. Peter Gajdics. Brown Paper Press, 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-941932-08-7. 355 pages. $17.99.
Unfortunately, a book about surviving conversion therapy is still necessary.
Author Peter Gajdics spent six years in a bizarre form of conversion therapy that attempted to “cure” him of his homosexuality. Kept with other patients in a cult-like home in British Columbia, Canada, Gajdics was under the authority of a dominating, rogue psychiatrist who controlled his patients, in part, by creating and exploiting a false sense of family. Juxtaposed against his parents’ tormented past― his mother’s incarceration and escape from a communist concentration camp in post-World War II Yugoslavia, and his father’s upbringing as an orphan in war-torn Hungary―The Inheritance of Shame: A Memoir explores the universal themes of childhood trauma, oppression, and intergenerational pain. Told over a period of decades, the story shows us the damaging repercussions of conversion therapy and reminds us that resilience, compassion, and the courage to speak the truth exist within us all.
This is a powerfully moving book, well-written, and especially appropriate for anyone still fumbling around in the closet. It is also appropriate for anyone who has survived conversion therapy.
Peter Gajdics is an award-winning writer whose essays, short memoir and poetry have appeared in, among others, The Advocate, New York Tyrant, The Gay and Lesbian Review / Worldwide, Cosmonauts Avenue, and Opium. He is a recipient of writers grants from Canada Council for the Arts (for nonfiction and fiction), a fellowship from The Summer Literary Seminars, and an alumni of Lambda Literary Foundation’s “Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices.” The Inheritance of Shame: A Memoir is his first book.