OUTbooks – Ghostwife by Michelle Dicinoski

ghostwifeMichelle was desperate to escape from her hometown of Rockhampton, Queensland, because she knew that the town had a way of shaping you “until you forget who you were in the first place, or what you could have become.” Her parents wanted her to settle down in a good job, marry a good partner, have kids and live an uneventful life “of hard work and stability.” After falling in love, she travelled from an Australian summer to below zero Toronto to marry her girlfriend Heather because the Australian government didn’t (and still doesn’t) allow same-sex marriages.

But there’s more to Michelle’s story as she explains her need to have a legally binding marriage contract. She is sick of the notable absences in her family history and omissions in history as a whole. “The more invisible you make something, the harder it is to prove that it matters,” she writes as she unearths members of her family who have disappeared and stories of ghost marriages.

Michelle reflects on the power of acceptance and hopes her story will help end the silence and the fear that has confined people who live outside social norms. Her parents have had difficulties acknowledging her relationship with Heather, claiming that they are from a different generation and Michelle is very patient with her attempts to win them over. This is more than a personal reflection as Michelle weaves her journey with the journeys of so many that have preceded her and left only ghostly marks on history.

Lezly Herbert