A Queer and Pleasant Danger: A Book Review

By Kate Bornstein

 

When I heard the writer Kate Bornstein’s interview (and advice) on an edition of Savage Lovecast, I realized I should probably check out her book A Queer and Pleasant Danger—a memoir brimming with incredible stories of spiritual confusion, gender identity, and (lots of) sex. The story begins with Kate as a young Jewish boy named Al, who never seems comfortable in her body. As she grows up, the discomfort never subsides, and she even makes plans commit suicide in the Rocky Mountains. Before she has a chance, however, she stumbles into a Scientology org in Denver and is immediately intrigued by the concept of a thetan—a genderless, everlasting source of life, similar to a soul that every human possesses. After she joins the church, Kate spends years in the “Sea Organization,” sailing across the world as a member of L. Ron Hubbard’s inner circle. During one of the expeditions, she marries her first wife in order to climb the ranks of Scientology and procreate. The union produces her only daughter, whom her wife more or less kidnaps just before serving Kate with divorce papers. Eventually, Bornstein is excommunicated from the church after she unwittingly stumbles upon evidence of Hubbard’s financial malfeasance on a business trip in Europe. After losing an additional pair of wives, she commits fully to identifying as a woman and undergoes gender reassignment surgery. Once she’s out, she moves to the West Coast where she discovers the worlds of BDSM, lesbian theater, and writing. The book concludes with a heart-wrenching letter to her daughter, who she may never see again. A couple of the reviews I read online state that this book isn’t for everyone, and I suppose that’s true, but I wish it didn’t have to be. Because the only folks this book really isn’t for is the closed-minded, anti-everyone, chauvinistic demographic who is so entrenched in denial that it doesn’t want its lily white world “corrupted” with the real life struggles of actual people. Everyone else should check it out for themselves.

The movie version: http://katebornsteinthemovie.com/

 

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