Yesterday was a big day. First, A Family by Any Other Name went on sale officially. That means you can now order it through Amazon and Indigo (both the trade paperback and the e-book version) or at your favourite local bookstore. You can also buy the iBook version through the iTunes Store. You might also consider recommending it to your local school or public library.
Thanks to a miracle of scheduling, which almost never happens, the launch party for A Family by Any Other Name was also held yesterday at Ben McNally Books in Toronto. Ben and his staff were terrific hosts, as usual, and I’m delighted to say that we packed the place. And for a nonfiction book, let alone an anthology of personal essays, put out by a small (but mighty!) independent publisher, that’s really something.
By my count, we had between 85 and 100 people there, plus our eight contributors who read excerpts from their essays. The night surpassed my expectations in every way, so thanks to everyone who came out to support the book and the brave folks who read from their essays. It’s one thing to write a personal essay – it’s another all together to read it to a crowd of strangers. It was also great for me to be able to meet so many of the contributors in person. Although I worked with them during the past year on their essays, I didn’t know most of them and had not actually met them until last night.
To back up a bit, if you live in the Toronto area, you may also have heard contributor Maya Saibil and me on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning yesterday, talking to Matt Galloway about the book and queer families. If you missed it, you can listen to it here. Maya and I had a great time, and I was delighted to hear from a number of people at the launch that they’d decided to join us after hearing about it on the CBC. Long live public broadcasting! (And for everyone who asked: yes, Galloway is every bit as warm and charming in person as he is on the air.)
One of those people was a long-time friend of my mother, who had heard me on the radio and decided to come to the launch. She was probably the first queer person I ever met and certainly the first one I knew was a lesbian. She and my mom are both in their sixties but have been friends since their summer camp days. She told me last night how proud she was of me and how happy she was that a book like A Family by Any Other Name exists. She said that among the many reasons why she always liked my mother so much was the fact that even after she came out to her, way back when, she didn’t care and still continued to bring my brother and me to visit her, which she said was not the way most people reacted at the time.
I could tell by the way she spoke that that seemingly simple gesture on my mother’s part meant a lot to her, and it reinforced for me the importance of being able to choose our own families and was a great note on which to end the evening.