Now that A Family by Any Other Name has been released, I’d like to continue introducing you to some of the book’s contributors.
Kate Barker is a writer based in Toronto. Her essay is called “Wife.”
How did you find out about the project?
Bruce invited me to submit an essay.
Why did you decide to contribute?
I was thrilled to be asked so of course I said yes.
How did you decide what to write about?
I knew I would write about Kim because for years she wouldn’t let me. When I wrote a column for Xtra, I could never use her name. So I’d execute ridiculous semantic contortions around it. I think she read “loved one” one too many times in relation to herself, or maybe it was “she who must be obeyed.” When I told her about this she was very gracious. She now fully accepts the fallout that comes with marrying a writer — and it only took 18 years.
Tell us a bit about yourself, both your life and writing experience.
I’m a writer. I began as a playwright and who knows how I’ll end up, but it will always have something to do with writing. Professionally, I’ve been a magazine writer and editor for 15 years. Now I also teach as an instructor at Ryerson’s journalism school. And for the past two years, I’ve been a full-time graduate student in history at York. I did my master’s last year, and I’m finishing my PhD course work right now. When I have an extra five minutes, which is never, I keep a blog about it: The Gradual Student.
Did writing about your own experiences prove challenging?
The call for submissions came when I was up to my eyeballs in essays and readings, so, yes, it was a challenge just to get my head around it. But when I sat down to write about Kim, no, I wouldn’t say it was a challenge. It was more like a gift. I finally had her permission, and this wonderful opportunity to write about the most important person in my life. I ran with it.
What did you get out of writing an essay for this collection?
My approach to writing personal essays hasn’t changed since I was a teenager. I knew then what I know now — you can’t hide in this format. A personal essay should scare the hell out of you if you’re doing it right. I’m very proud to be a part of a group of queer writers who are all so clearly doing it right.
Do you have any new or upcoming projects you’d like readers to know about?
Keeping my sanity — at least until I write my comps in November.