Jane Lynch’s “Happy Accidents” is deliberately wonderful


I have a confession to make: I picked up Jane Lynch‘s memoir, Happy Accidents, as soon as it hit bookstore shelves yesterday with the intention of scanning “the gay parts” to write an AfterEllen-specific review for today — but once I opened it up, I read every single word, from cover to cover, in one happily accidental sitting.

It’s a memoir-eat-memoir world out there. Every day, a celebrity or politician (or a washed-up variation thereof) releases a tell-all biography. But engaging stories of lives well lived are a lot harder to come by. Lynch, however, starts at the beginning — the moment she was “born with an extra helping of angst” — and works all the way through to her 2010 Golden Globe win — “Please don’t say Jane Lynch, please don’t say Jane Lynch. But when they said ‘Jane Lynch,’ I thought, You’re damn right, Jane Lynch!” — with such candor and self-deprecating charm that I laughed and cried my way through the whole book.

You never know how much “gay stuff” is going to make it into the memoir of an openly gay celebrity, but Lynch’s sexuality is one of the central themes of Happy Accidents. She brings it up in the first few pages of the book, remembering back to being twelve years old:

Jill and Michelle Stevenson were in my class at school, and every year during spring break they went with their parents to South Florida. They told me about a weird thing they’d seen there. “Sometimes,” Jill said, “you’ll see boys holding hands with each other on the beach instead of girls. It’s because they’re gay.”

Oh my God, I thought, that’s what I have. I’m the girl version of that.

It was 20 years later before she finally came out to her parents, and she charts her journey of sexual acceptance — her “big gay secret” — in the most Lynch-y way possible. From her first celebrity crush: “Like any good, closeted young lesbian of the seventies, I developed a raging crush on Ron Howard.” To her first real life crush: “She was deaf. I imagined romantically rescuing her from her alienated existence [in Algebra class] and making her feel that her thoughts and dreams were understood. To her first grown-up crush: “That she was straight didn’t matter. I wasn’t thinking I would ever actually win her love. And when I daydreamed about kissing her, I imagined myself as a handsome boy. I still wasn’t entirely on board with the whole ‘gay’ thing.” To her marriage to her wife Lara Embry.

One of the last chapters of the book is dedicated to her relationship with Embry, and it is the sweetest damn thing I have read in ages. Of course, it’s hilarious too. I don’t even want to tell you anything about it because I want you to swoon and giggle when you read it for yourself.

The other main theme of Lynch’s memoir is her journey to really making it as an actress, but her battles are so universally human that anyone who’s ever pursued a dream will relate to them. She talks about her struggle with with low self-esteem, her struggle with alcoholism, and her struggles committing to a relationship. And she gives behind the scenes tidbits for every show and movie she’s ever worked on, including, of course, Glee and The L Word. Again, there are some TLW tidbits you should unearth yourself, but my personal favorite was her confession that she accidentally slipped Laurel Holloman some tongue when filming Joyce and Tina’s second season kiss. (Don’t worry, she apologized.)

If you’re on the fence about Happy Accidents, you should read it. If you’re not on the fence, you should get on the fence. It’s a validating, hilarious read for gay ladies everywhere.

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