I’m not sure how many songs have been written about reconciling with a parent thanks to that parent coming out as transgender. There could be dozens of them. But I’ve only heard this one, and even though I personally can’t relate specifically to the subject, it’s still very relatable thanks to the themes of forgiveness and letting go that run through it. By the end, you genuinely feel happy for them. Definitely worthy of repeat listens.
It’s a true story. That seems like an obvious statement once you’ve heard the song, but it’s one worth making since it’s not as though there aren’t thousands of songs written from the point of view of someone else.
In 2015, after years of bitter estrangement and decades of acrimony, Turner saw his 72-year-old parent, a banker turned bookshop owner, at the funeral of a family friend. In their 30-second encounter, she told Turner she was thinking of beginning the process of transitioning.
“I just was like: ‘OK, cool, whatever’, and walked away from it,” Turner says. At the time, the pair had not been on speaking terms: “I wasn’t in a good place.” But as a fundamentally inclusive person (Turner works with the US LGBTQ+ charity The Ally Coalition and frequently raises money for them at his gigs), his hot-headedness soon gave way to understanding. “Obviously, right from the beginning, it was like: ‘If this is serious, then I will back it,’” he says. The root of Turner’s animosity lies in early childhood. Another FTHC song, Fatherless, digs back into Turner’s despair at being “shipped off to a dormitory” at prep school at eight and then to Eton, where he “cried myself to sleep each night” until he felt “dead inside”. It is only through recent therapy that he realised it was “really fucked up. That’s how my dad was raised, and it was kind of expected I would do the same thing. But I found it extremely traumatic … I had a long history of self-harm and mental health issues as a kid that was entirely and completely caused by that, and I have scars to prove it. The second that I became even vaguely socially or politically conscious, all I wanted to do was escape that world and have nothing to do with it ever again.”
His temper-prone father was, he says, “filled with rage” at Turner’s teenage lifestyle, and they had “volcanic” rows over tattoos or his DIY mohawk aged 16 that “looked quite a lot like mange … It was never violent, but it was everything up to that, and it was extremely fucking unpleasant.”