“Why do people catfish? People don’t feel confident in who they are, so they pretend they’re someone else.” William Dameron’s selfie was stolen countless times. It would even show up as a Google image search for “forty-year-old, white male.” Many women were victims to scams perpetrated by men who assumed his image as their own. It seems like a pretty good theme for his memoir. Though he had pretended to be someone else for years, the tables were turned. His own, true orientation would mock the Google search results.
Married at twenty-three to Katherine, the union produced two daughters, Olivia and Clare. Married life began in Greensboro, NC. When the second child arrived, Dameron reduced his work schedule to part-time to help his wife with the raising of the small children. After being laid-off from a bank in Greensboro, the family relocates to Roanoke, VA. When that firm files for bankruptcy, the family moves to Franklin, MA.
It was a loveless marriage. You initially learn of Bill’s agony, being a gay man, trapped in a heterosexual marriage and feeling despair. As the story progresses, you begin to realize that the agony is shared. Instead of just telling of his own struggle, he wisely owns up to the fact that his wife is just as miserable. The fights are unpleasant but it helps to remind readers that the story is not just about the protagonist but also about the other people in his life. Every time you think Katherine is being unreasonable, or even cruel, you are reminded that this is not the outcome she expected in life. I give him credit for couching his story as not just one of his personal turmoil but a conflict that damages other people.
Another revelation, aside from his sexuality, is Bill’s use of steroids. Katherine discovers his stash and confronts him with the daughters present. That seems a bit harsh but weaves into the story of deceptions, secrets and lies. Is every part of his being based on a lie? Probably so.
After coming out to his family, Bill faces the daunting task of creating a new life. Two of the most wonderful characters in the book are the middle-aged lesbians, Linda and Debra, who rent their basement apartment to him. They are incredibly kind and generous and ease his transition to a new life. He is lucky to have encountered them as they smooth out so many complications and build up his confidence and self-worth.
Just like real life, family and friends react with a range of love and support to outright rejection of his revelation. Fortunately for Bill, he eventually meets Paul, another man who fathered children. Though a bit shaky at first, the union of two gay fathers and five children, works.
The book is a testament to a time that is (hopefully) receding. Gay people do not have to live a lie. No one should have to wait until age forty-three to come out. The collateral damage inflicted on others should not happen but inevitably, it does.
William Dameron is an award winning blogger, memoirist, essayist and the author of “The LIE, A Memoir of Two Marriages, Catfishing & Coming Out.” His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Salon, The Huffington post, and in the book, Fashionably Late: Gay, Bi and Trans Men Who Came Out Later in Life. He is an IT Director for a global economic consulting firm, where he educates users on the perils of social engineering in cybersecurity. William, his husband, and blended family of five children split their time between Boston and the coast of southern Maine.
REVIEW: STEPHEN COY