When actor and activist Harry Cook migrated to Australia at the age of ten homosexuality had only been recently decriminalised. A few years later he would struggle with coming-out to his parents. He says acceptance was hard, because there weren’t many queer-positive stories around at the time (in fact, homophobic propaganda was rife during the AIDs and HIV epidemics). His new memoir, Pink Ink, then is like a breath of fresh air, a book which fights against this hatred, and offers an honest and frank account of one man’s grapples with his sexuality.
Cook is twenty-seven years old, naturally some people may think this is quite young to be penning his first memoir, but the actor has had some exciting things happen during his short life. He has starred opposite Geena Davis in Accidents Happen, and he publicly came out by way of a viral YouTube video at the age of twenty two. He is now happily married to Liam Davis, and the pair have two fur babies AKA two gorgeous English bulldogs.
Pink Ink sees Cook deliver a collection of stories which detail his experiences growing up, and the realisation he was gay. This book is a significant one, because Cook’s story will be relatable for many LGBTQI teens and adults. It should also offer some comfort for those who, thanks to our society and culture, may have internalised shame. It will also hopefully reassure readers that they too can overcome this bullshit and triumph over it all.
Whilst Pink Ink may feature some simple prose, that doesn’t make it an easy read. There is an interesting story involving a Snow White dress that takes a devastating turn. There are also some difficult moments where Cook lays things bare; describing some violent episodes and his struggles with addiction. It can be quite horrendous stuff to read but it’s important these stories are told, because only then can we learn from past mistakes.
Pink Ink is an impressive debut from one candid storyteller. Cook’s memoir doesn’t sugarcoat things in pink icing, nor does he try to make things more palatable for readers. Rather, in this straight-up account of his experiences, Cook proves that he walks to the beat of his own drum and in doing so, is unashamedly his own unique self.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Pink Ink by Harry Cook is available now through Finch Publishing