Saturday, May 23, 2009

Family's viewpoint adds much needed perspective to documentary

KrysAnne Hembrough in her home, November, 2008

As production continues on my latest documentary, Gen Silent, the relatives of one of our subjects, KrysAnne Hembrough, are revealing a new side of their troubled relationship with her.
Before her death, Hembrough claimed that she was abandoned by loved ones when she (then known as Kevin) became a woman. Original post

Not true and very oversimplified, according to a younger brother, Patrick, who took the time to email me with his family's concern about how they were being portrayed.
His very insightful response is unedited below and I'm grateful to be in communication with him- to gain more understanding:

My Contribution to KrysAnne's Story

Growing up in a family of 11 children is challenging enough. Add to that an authoritarian, unapproachable, and psychologically abusive father and a mother who everyone calls a 'living saint'. Catholics will understand that all saints must suffer in silence. Our mother excelled at this. But our mother is a nurturing woman - not strong, not powerful - but full of love and empathy for all beings. Her love more than compensated for what we did not get from our father. Not exactly The Brady Bunch but not a family deserving of pity either.

As the eldest son, Kevin followed the only role model he had. As a teenager, man, husband and father he assumed this outwardly authoritarian and unapproachable role. But this was a conflicted role and one that never quite fit. His heart, and often his words, reached out for a more nurturing, harmonious, more 'family' environment but he had neither the tools nor the skills to fulfill this role. Frustrated in this role, Kevin chose alcohol, drugs and, finally, he chose complete abandonment of his family...choices made many years before this transformation.

Having lived abroad now for 7 years, I knew Kevin. I did not know KrysAnne except through emails and phone conversations. In these emails and conversations with me over the past few years, the tone remained bitter and resentful for a life ruined by circumstances with blame and animosity for all family members.

Our brothers and sisters have all grown and matured more or less successfully despite the same demons. Each accepts responsibility for his/her fate. I'm afraid I never heard a word from Kevin/KrysAnne accepting responsibility for his/her fate. I received one of those letters. I did not return mine. I opened it and read words of contempt, anger and bitterness. Given the child-like writing, I suspect his own son sent the letter posted in your blog. I can not speak for all of my siblings, however, had KrysAnne made any heartfelt attempt to reach out to her family, as she did to me in the last few years, far more of us would have provided support and made a sincere effort to understand and help.

In her final days, we spoke on the telephone and she still expressed her contempt for our mother's inability to stand up to the tyrant and 'protect' us. That was more than 40 years ago. KrysAnne said she intended to confront our mother yet again about this subject before dying. A sad way to live and a sadder way to die. I will never know the full story of why and what drove Kevin to pursue this remedy for his troubled life. Perhaps this was a new and more comfortable role. However, this new role was still tainted. A bit of the the victim and the martyr came through.

Throughout his life, Kevin threw out the terms 'sissy' and 'fag' with ease, often directed at me. However, if this new role brought some comfort and peace...even joy, to this tortured soul, I am truly happy.

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