By: Sandra Worsham
Publisher: Third Lung Press
Publication Date: August 2017
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Sandra Worsham bares her soul in her moving memoir Going to Wings.
Worsham opens her debut in 1975, the year she earmarks “The Telling” when she reveals to her mother the extramarital affair she had in 1969 with not a man, but a woman—Ellen, a fellow teacher. The result is devastating. Her mother’s rejection compels her to cut off her relationship with Ellen and find a way to “fit in” regardless of her unrelenting attraction to females. Guilt-ridden, she determines to please her mother. Making her marriage work is her first order of business, but fitting into her wifely duties is easier said than done.
Two years after her stint with Ellen, Worsham meets Mary-Louise, a flamboyant church organist who is a woman twice her age. A Pygmalion relationship ensues. Worsham is a willing participant, committed to taking on a new identity via this teacher-student connection until rumors arise about her close ties to the worldly woman. More identify changes occur with Teeny, another fellow teacher, in 1975. Although their platonic relationship lasts for thirty years (2005), the last ten years are filled with unresolved conflict after the death of her mother (1995). With life appearing gloomier than ever, the last thing she expects—and in the most unexpected of circumstances—is true love.
Worsham covers a near fifty-year span of time in her page-turning memoir. Delicately covering the nuances of a heavily-laced patriarchal society in the heart of the Bible Belt, Worsham candidly lays out her past, voluntarily airing out her dirty laundry. What she spells out in her presentation is embarrassing, to be sure, but at the same time, not uncommon to anyone in the LGBTQ community who has struggled with issues of right and wrong, good and evil, and overcoming fear in various forms in the fight for truth and identity.
A captivating raconteur, Worsham fast forwards slightly before taking readers through a chronological journey riddled with pain and the hope for a better tomorrow. Her writing style is frank but not crass. Sections dealing with sex are straightforward but not explicit. Her human-interest stories flow—at least to this reviewer—like a Harper Lee novel.
Divided into four sections, Going to Wings provides readers with so much more than personal identity as Worsham explores spirituality and realities that come with losing loved ones.
Quill says: Going to Wings is a powerful must-read and a delightfully welcomed addition to the LQBTQ literary collection.