The Reappearing Act by Kate Fagan is a memoir that everyone who has ever had an experience with coming out, personally or indirectly, needs to read. Fagan not only shares one of the hardest times in her life, she also exemplifies that when coming out as gay, acceptance is as important as acknowledgement.
Before Kate Fagan was a feature writer for ESPN, she was a student athlete at the University of Colorado. Going to an elite college and playing for a nationally ranked basketball team is hard enough when all she has to worry about is going to classes, getting good grades, and playing a demanding basketball schedule. But Kate has something else to worry about. Kate is gay.
Growing up, Kate knew her feelings for girls were different, yet she didn’t have the vocabulary to discuss exactly what those feelings were. When she arrived in Colorado, Kate immersed herself in her love for basketball and her religious teammates. But there was something in the back of Kate’s mind that wouldn’t let her settle into this world she had created. Even joining her friends at Colorado’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ weekly bible studies couldn’t tamper the sense of otherness inside her. All Kate was able to do was learn all about Christianity. This made her feel even more like an outsider, especially when the topic of homosexuality came up.
It was a time of struggle in Kate’s life. A time marked by finding her identity, questioning Christianity, losing loyal friends, and gaining new relationships. It’s a story infused with humor and wit, along with heartache and tears, as Kate shows us how she slowly began to accept her new reality and embrace her true self.
The Writing Style
When you first pick up this book, you may be surprised to find the writing kind of soft. By that, I mean it feels light and humorous, which is something one wouldn’t expect to find in a memoir about a young woman struggling to come out. There’s wit interjected with memories of bible study discussions about homosexuality. And sarcasm is noted in discussions with Kate’s best friend, Dee, when she explains to Kate that “God is not okay with you being gay.” It all feels a little out of place. However, as you continue reading, you realize that this style of writing, the humor and the sarcasm, was as much a way of coping as much as it was about sharing the experience.
Fagan released The Reappearing Act in 2014, one year after the book ends with Fagan working for ESPN in 2013. What this tells me is that she was still processing that time in her life and how it ultimately led to the choices and actions she made. I can’t fault her for this. In fact, I find her commendable by sharing her past while continuing her journey to self-acceptance and happiness.
Fagan shows us that coming out is not just about shouting “I’m gay!” from the rafters. It’s about coming to your own personal conclusions about your sexuality. By taking us on her personal journey, Fagan reveals that even after the initial self-acknowledgment, it was still a long road to self-acceptance. I feel this was an important aspect because I’m sure there are people out there who are wondering why they didn’t have this huge sense of relief after they came out. Through The Reappearing Act, we realize that coming out is truly a process, and it may take years to achieve self-acceptance. It’s a constant journey that will continue to educate us about ourselves, our personal resiliencies, and the people in our lives.
I must admit, the end of this book felt abrupt. But again, I reflected on who Kate Fagan was when she wrote this story. Based on my assumptions, then this type of ending is perfect. It will allow Fagan, if she so chooses, to return and fill in the details of how her life has evolved and continued to become self-gratifying through her experiences.
Coming out is a struggle, and Fagan bares just how far her struggle has come by opening up about her time in Colorado. She highlights the denial, the isolation, and ultimately the acceptance and reconciliation with being a lesbian. Her insight allows others to understand exactly what the coming out process can be like, and just how important it is to have compassion and understanding in such a trying time. Whether you are thinking about coming out, have already come out, or are close to someone who has come out, this book is a wonderful guide to providing understanding, support, and above all, love.
Excerpt from The Reappearing Act by Kate Fagan
I chucked my backpack into my locker and looked down at my hands…then started rubbing them together, as if warming them by a fire. I sat like that for a while, competing thoughts swirling in my mind, until the first of my teammates arrived…I stood and started executing the first item on my pregame list, undressing and putting on my uniform.
Two hours later, the stands were filled with six thousand people. Beads of sweat dripped across my eyebrows, and I kept wiping them away. I looked at the referee, who was holding the game ball and watching the official scorer, waiting for ESPN to signal a return from commercial. I pretended to glance at the scoreboard, but really I was looking in the stands, high up in the corner for someone who wasn’t there. The referee blew the whistle signaling we were ready, then walked to the center court, the ball resting on her palm as if on a tray. I arranged my feet around the jump circle, something I had done a thousand times in my life.
But this time was different. Because this time, as the ball flew into the air for the opening tip, I wasn’t thinking about tracking it down while fighting for position with the player next to me. I wasn’t even thinking about basketball. In that moment, my mind was focused on one thing in particular.
Holy shit…I’m definitely gay.
Get This Book On Amazon
(this link works for Amazon UK, US and Canada)
Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781629142050
- Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Kate Fagan Online
If you enjoyed this book then you should also look at