All hell broke loose when Casey Parks came out to her family. But amid all their weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, there was a bright spark that came to dominate Parks’ personal and professional life for over a decade, which she recounts in Diary of a Misfit (14.5 hours). Parks’ stern, conservative grandmother took her aside and told her a secret: “I grew up across the street from a woman who lived as a man.” Parks’ search for this person sent her back to her childhood homes in Louisiana and Mississippi, and her investigation becomes entwined with her own story of growing up gay in the Deep South.
Parks has been deeply wounded by her family and her church, and as both author and narrator, she tells her story at some remove, as if she’s faithfully recounting it to a friend or therapist while trying not to relive her pain. Ironically, her restraint makes the scars she bears more evident—but it also makes her reconciliation with her past more triumphant.