In a queer nod to Veterans Day, we bring you writer Lauren Hough. She grew up in Christian free-love “doomsday” cult The Family, which her father had joined around 1970 to dodge the Vietnam War draft. At 18, Hough fled to the Air Force, where she got anti-lesbian death threats and her car was set ablaze.

The Air Force court-martialed Hough, accusing her of setting her own car on fire. The military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in place at the time kept her from citing the homophobic death threats in her defense. Her book of essays, “Leaving Isn’t The Hardest Thing,” details this and other horrors, with scathing critiques on U.S. society tempered with sardonic humor.

On this week’s Out in the Bay, Hough reads from her essays and talks about “life in the margins,” where so many people in the US dwell. After her USAF service, Hough was homeless for a while; was incarcerated briefly; and worked as a bouncer, a barista, a bartender and a “cable guy” before becoming a professional writer. Learn more and find links to Hough’s articles and other work on her website,

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This episode of Out in the Bay was produced by Kendra Klang and edited by Lusen Mendel. It first aired in June 2021.

Photo of essayist Lauren Hough by Karl Poss IV, courtesy of Vintage Books.

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