This evening I had a very pleasant time with Holly, which began with her mentioning how much she liked the song “Across the Universe” and me playing her the version of the song by Laibach, which has always been my favourite. “Dad,” she said, happily, “This was the version of the song I knew as a little girl. You used to play it. I always wondered why the Beatles one sounded different from the way I expected. I mean you could understand the words for a start.” Then we sat in front of the computer for a few hours and I made her a playlist of more songs she had loved as a small girl, the ones she’d remembered and the ones she’d forgotten, which led to our having The Conversation. You know, the one I’ve known was coming for the last almost-nineteen years.
I dragged songs from her childhood over to the playlist — “Barcelona” and “Nothing Compares 2 U” and “I Don’t Like Mondays” and “These Foolish Things” and then came Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side”. “You named me from this song, didn’t you?” said Holly as the first bass notes sang. “Yup,” I said.
Lou started singing.
Holly listened to the first verse, and for the first time, actually heard the words.
"Shaved her legs and then he was a she…? He?"
"That’s right," I said, and bit the bullet. We were having The Conversation. "You were named after a drag queen in a Lou Reed song."
She grinned like a light going on. “Oh dad. I do love you,” she said. Then she picked up an envelope and wrote what I’d just said down on the back, in case she forgot it.
I’m not sure that I’d ever expected The Conversation to go quite like that.- http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2004/05/in-which-author-finally-has.asp (and Holly, nine years later an out queer milliner, is to be found at http://hollyherself.tumblr.com/)
Last night I held my father’s hand while he dozed in the car next to me, tired and sad about Lou Reed’s death. A few silent tears fell onto my cheeks, not so much for Lou but more for my dad and his sorrow. I know Lou Reed meant so much to him he named his daughter after a line in one of his songs.
I’m so proud to be named for this song. It’s always been a part of me. When I was little I loved doing the “do do do do do”s. When I was 19 and just coming out for the first time realising my namesake was non-heteronormative meant so much to me, it made vocalising my sexuality feel infinitely safer. Now I’m so proud to be queer, and an important part of that for me is striving to be an ally to the trans* community. Thank you, dad, and thank you, Lou, for making that something as intrinsically part of me as my name.
Ah. So much love…