Leaving Isn't the Hardest Thing
“Lauren Hough has led a more interesting life than you, but no need to be jealous: this life includes growing up traveling the world in a sex cult, getting kicked out of the Air Force under Don't Ask Don't Tell, and a 7 day stint in the SHU without even having her arrest processed. And as a former cable guy and gay bar bouncer, she has seen more of the weird, wild, and insufferable parts of human nature than most of us ever will. The essays in this book are Hough processing the terror of being gay in the South and in the military in the 90s, the trauma and shame of her childhood (it took her longer to come out as a cult survivor than it did to come out as a lesbian) and learning, through all of the noise and violence, to stop trying to fit in for the sake of love and belonging and instead finding the liberation in just being herself. Hough does all of this with essays as poignant as they are laugh-out-loud funny, with a singular voice that is ready to call out the bullshit. (CW: rape, child sexual assault, violence against LGBT folk.)”
Rachel, The Book Table
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"A memoir in essays about so many things—growing up in an abusive cult, coming of age as a lesbian in the military, forced out by homophobia, living on the margins as a working class woman and what it’s like to grow into the person you are meant to be. Hough’s writing will break your heart." —Roxane Gay
Searing and extremely personal essays, shot through with the darkest elements America can manifest, while discovering light and humor in unexpected corners.
As an adult, Lauren Hough has had many identities: an airman in the U.S. Air Force, a cable guy, a bouncer at a gay club. As a child, however, she had none. Growing up as a member of the infamous cult The Children of God, Hough had her own self robbed from her. The cult took her all over the globe--to Germany, Japan, Texas, Chile—but it wasn't until she finally left for good that Lauren understood she could have a life beyond "The Family."
Along the way, she's loaded up her car and started over, trading one life for the next. She's taken pilgrimages to the sights of her youth, been kept in solitary confinement, dated a lot of women, dabbled in drugs, and eventually found herself as what she always wanted to be: a writer. Here, as she sweeps through the underbelly of America—relying on friends, family, and strangers alike—she begins to excavate a new identity even as her past continues to trail her and color her world, relationships, and perceptions of self.
At once razor-sharp, profoundly brave, and often very, very funny, the essays in Leaving Isn't the Hardest Thing interrogate our notions of ecstasy, queerness, and what it means to live freely. Each piece is a reckoning: of survival, identity, and how to reclaim one's past when carving out a future.
A VINTAGE ORIGINAL