My Father's Closet

By Karen McClintock

Page 2 of 2

Author McClintock win’s pitch prize

soldier boys with parentsHere’s the Ashland Daily Tidings Story by Vickie Aldous on the win!


Posted Aug. 21, 2015 at 12:01 AM

Ashland author Karen McClintock crafted a pitch about her book project that is short enough to deliver during an elevator ride.

This month she won top honors in an “elevator pitch” contest at a Portland conference for authors and literary agents.

McClintock’s 45-second elevator pitch describes “My Father’s Closet,” a memoir that chronicles her journey to uncover the truth about her gay father, a World War II veteran who was married and had children.

Her elevator pitch is a condensed version of a longer pitch she gave in speed-dating style meetings with agents at the conference.

“You have about six to eight minutes to explain the book, your background and why you can sell a million books,” she said. “When I met with agents for the longer pitches, it was nice to be able to say I won the elevator pitch contest.”

Already a published author of nonfiction books about church congregations and sexuality, McClintock is in the midst of hunting for a publisher for “My Father’s Closet.”

McClintock learned about her father’s secret identity when she found a box in an attic that contained a journal her father penned when he was a high school senior. He wrote about the early days of his courtship with McClintock’s mother — then described a sexual experience he had with a man.

During WWII, he was stationed in New York City, tasked with watching out for invading submarines. After the war, McClintock’s parents married.

“They went ahead and got married because that’s what you did back then,” McClintock said.

McClintock’s father had a long-term intimate relationship with a man while he was married. He went to Broadway shows every year with his “friend” — leaving behind playbills from the trips in the attic.

Still, he remained loyal to his family and did not abandon his children, McClintock said.

Her father was grief-stricken when his intimate partner died in a plane crash over Central America.

McClintock said she hopes “My Father’s Closet” will encourage people to be open about their sexual orientation. At the same time, the book provides historical insight into events and attitudes through the decades that forced people to stay in the closet.

Both her parents have passed away. McClintock said she believes her father would have been amazed by the recent Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage across the country.

“He wants me to share his story. I feel like Dad and I are celebrating,” she said.

For more information about “My Father’s Closet” and McClintock’s journey to uncover the truth, visit

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or Follow her on Twitter at




My mother thinks grandma made him gay.


Baby Charles

Baby Charles

“In this picture,” my mother says, “you can see how grandma dressed him.  I think he’s about two years old–what do you think?”  She doesn’t wait for my response.  She slides her glasses down her nose and peers over them.  She rubs her hands around the picture’s edges like she was feeling the lace on his gown.

“What’s he sitting on?”

“An old wicker chair that sat in their living room for decades.  They picked it up on one of their summer road trips to California.  Someone must have put him up on a pillow, he’s a little king on his throne. Grandma dressed him in lace and even scotch-taped a pink bow to his head until he went off to school.  She treated him like her baby doll because she wanted a girl.”

“Mom, ” I say, my voice turning whiny and thin.  I know where this is headed.  “It wasn’t grandma’s fault, cross-dressing didn’t make him gay, that’s a myth mom.”

“Well I’m not sure,” she says, taking a big breath and exhaling forty three years of resentment.

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