An Upper Arlington native's newest book chronicles her journey to find the father she grew up with but never truly knew because of a secret her parents kept until he died.

Karen McClintock, a 1971 graduate of Upper Arlington High School, lived an idyllic growing up in UA in the 1950s and '60s. Back then, she said, children congregated unsupervised and after dark on neighborhood streets to play flashlight tag.

Her family seemed typical, with two children -- McClintock and her sister, Marsha -- and a mother and father -- Alice and Charles, later known as Mac -- who spent their courtship dancing to Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians and remained together until her father died in his late 60s.

But shortly after her father's death, McClintock's mother revealed that he was gay.

"My Father's Closet," being released this month by Ohio State University's Trillium Press, tells that story and chronicles McClintock's quest to find the father she never really knew.

"I wanted to get to know my father," McClintock said recently during a telephone interview from Ashland, Oregon, where she now lives.

"I've been searching my whole life for the gay father who was in there within the father I thought I knew."

She is now a psychologist specializing in family secrets and shame-recovery who teaches human sexuality at Southern Oregon University.

McClintock has written books addressing issues of "sexual shame" and how patterns of shame limit interpersonal connections.

"My Father's Closet" continues those discussions, but McClintock said it has more pain and love in it than her three earlier releases.

Her personal journey and reflection were part of writing the book, but beyond that, she said she hopes it will help the world "to stop shaming people for their sexualities."

McClintock also seeks to aid those coping with uncovered family secrets such as sexual orientation and infidelity.

"The individual hiding an important or integral part of their identity -- their child doesn't get access to their whole parent," she said.

"(The child) ends up longing to know the real person.

"I would love it if I could have known my father, the whole person. I want people to really see inside the complexity of love," she said.

In addition to unfolding clue after clue to the mystery of her father's life with each chapter -- including the discovery of a journal from 1939 in which he describes having a "sexual experimentation with a man" -- readers will find many depictions of bygone Upper Arlington and Columbus-area landscapes and life throughout the book.

A publicity tour for "My Father's Closet" in April and May will bring McClintock back to her roots.

A reading and book-signing has been scheduled at Barnes & Noble's Ohio State University Bookstore, 1598 N. High St., for April 18, and a visit to the Grandview Heights Public Library, 1685 W. First Ave., is planned for April 20.

Other area appearances will include "An Evening with Karen McClintock" at the Ohio History Connection, 800 E. 17th Ave., on April 19, and a reading and signing tentatively scheduled for April 29 at the Barnes and & Noble Bookstore at Kingsdale Center, 3280 Tremont Road.

A full list of McClintock's Columbus-area planned appearances is available through an "upcoming events" link on her website, karenmcclintockauthor.com.

nellis@thisweeknews.com

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