A Queer and Pleasant Danger: A Memoir
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“I was born male and now I’ve got medical and government documents that say I’m female—but I don’t call myself a woman, and I know I’m not a man. . . .”
Scientologist, husband and father, tranny, sailor, slave, playwright, dyke, gender outlaw—these are just a few words which have defined Kate Bornstein during her extraordinary life. For the first time, it all comes together in A Queer and Pleasant Danger, Kate Bornstein’s stunningly original memoir that’s set to change lives and enrapture readers.
Wickedly funny and disarmingly honest, this is Bornstein’s most intimate book yet. With wisdom, wit, and an unwavering resolution to tell the truth (“I must not tell lies”), Bornstein shares her story: from a nice Jewish boy growing up in New Jersey to a strappingly handsome lieutenant of the Church of Scientology’s Sea flagship vessel, and later to 1990s Seattle, where she becomes a rising star in the lesbian community. In between there are wives and lovers, heartbreak and triumph, bridges mended and broken, and a journey of self-discovery that will mesmerize readers.
much everything else. All I knew is that I wanted to stop wanting to be a girl. Maybe ruthless would help. I turned the book over to read the back jacket, which claimed that Scientology could make the blind see, the lame walk, and bring sanity to the insane. If you were already sane, it said, Scientology would make you more sane. I mentally threw my lot in with the insane in need of some sanity. And . . . past lives?! “Who’s Elron Hubbard?” “It’s the letter L, for Lafayette, and
carefully and unquestioningly as fundamentalists of any religion might follow their own texts, word for word. So, here’s what L. Ron Hubbard says Scientologists must do—must do—about suppressive persons like me. First, we’re publicly declared enemies of the Church, and I have been. You can walk into most any Church of Scientology in the world, and there should be a bright yellow piece of paper that reads, “Al Bornstein is an enemy of the Church.” And from the moment I was declared an enemy
“And you enjoyed it, right?” “Fuck yes, I enjoyed it, Greg. I like sex with guys. I just don’t want to live with one.” I’d heard a bisexual woman use that line in an AA meeting, and I was proud to be using it myself. But Greg came right back at me. “I think that makes you homophobic, Al.” Homophobia was a new word I’d learned at a gay AA meeting, and I was impressed that Greg knew and could use it. “You learned your homophobia from your father and from L. Ron Hubbard, and you
Oh, no. Oh, no. Chapter 13. Over the Borderline “So, you never told him how angry you were with him about all his macho demands on you?” “Nope.” Greg was unsuccessfully prompting me to talk about my father. My heart beat against my ribs. “The two of you were a time bomb waiting to go off, Al. No wonder you wanted to spit on his grave. That must have been one hell of a funeral.” “Oh, yes. It was.” I didn’t cry at the funeral, but now the tears were streaming down
my face. I felt shattered—again. It seemed to me like there’d never been a time in my life when I wasn’t shattered. “Al? What?” “I’m . . . scared. So. Fucking. Scared.” “Of what?” I didn’t have a clue what I was scared of, but I’d learned how to deflect a question like that. I made myself stop crying, and I told Greg he was the only guy in my life that I could talk with about any of my deep truths. “You know me better than even my AA sponsor.” Greg steepled his